This year we got off to a slower start than preferred, but the team has come together and fed off of one another, and appears ready to change the outcome of the season. We have risen to the challenge of the last few games, and minus a hiccup or two, have played very well, and continued to improve from game-to-game. The team has not backed down from their opponents, regardless of what the weekly rankings say, and have fought hard during every contest. The team has won their last three matches, including their first overtime/shootout of the season. With many of the ranked opponents from the conference behind us, we are looking to make waves during the last half of the season, just in time for a playoff run.
Overall, the team has a lot of new faces, and mixed with a handful of returners, have made themselves a team to be reckoned with on any given day/night. Due to increased numbers in our program, we made the roster larger than in most other years, and getting players minutes has sometimes been a challenge. All of the players have been practicing well, and challenging one another, which is certainly helping with some of the adversity we have faced. On any given night, any one of our 25 players could end up being the Man of the Match…an award voted on by his peers after every game.
I told the team early on, as long as we are at our best at the end of the season, we have a chance to return to Des Moines. With the State’s current playoff system, every team gets a chance in the post-season; many times the favorites advance, but it is never a given. I look forward to the next few week’s with this group of care-free, funny, and passionate soccer players.
Hard to believe that we are at the midpoint of the season already. It seems like just yesterday we were stepping on the grass/turf for the first time; perhaps that is in part to the crazy weather so far this year. With cold temps and snow more than once it was hard to find adequate time to fit in a good quality practice. This was evidence in our back to back loses to start off our season. The team faced some tough choices after those first two games. Would it continue to play overly physical while allowing the opposition to get into their heads (which kept us from playing to our potential) or would they adjust their focus and control those aspects of the game (all of which have a direct impact on playing together, communicating, and getting better each day)?
As it turns out we have done an exceptional job with our focus, as of late. We’ve adjusted our playing our style, while still being physical, which has allowed us to score at least 1 goal in each of our games after our first two losses. Our focus on what needs to be done has been to be successful, has also been much better. We have improved to a 5-2 record and have 5 straight wins. In addition, we’ve had multiple goal-scorers along the way and have shown great team effort. We’ve recorded 3 clean sheets so far and have only been shutout once.
All of the players have shown improvement since our first day together and I know with even more hard work we’ll get better during each practice and game. I, for one, am looking forward to the second half of the season and what it might bring for our players!
This season has been a very rewarding one for me. Every practice and every single game I can see some improvements from the players and their attempt to play up to their potential. As a soccer coach, my goal is to have my players to be able to look, think and play while moving. For some players, it may be a very strange experience practicing with me, especially because I am not from around here. But I love seeing our players trying to figure out the way to play even if they are confused by the unique rules and instructions in some drills. Finally, some things are starting to click and we are able to connect so many more passes in a game than we were able to do in the first game of the season.
Throughout the first half of the season, we have had some tough losses and some dominant wins as we improved to a record of 2-4. Some of the schools we have played so far have different makeup of teams; we have often played against an opponent that contains many upperclassmen and even some varsity level players. I am satisfied with how we have been playing even when we are physically or technically overwhelmed. This experience will definitely be beneficial for the players moving forward during their remaining high school soccer experiences. I am hoping that we can gain some mental toughness as a team, that keeps us playing hard, even when we are down on the scoreboard; this will be one of my biggest challenges.
I am very excited to see what our team and our players can achieve in the second half of the season, as we continue to get better, as both soccer players and human beings.