A Sad Day at Charlotte
Last weekend, we traveled to UNC- Charlotte to battle the 49ers in a crucial A-10 game. In a déjà vu-type game, we fought hard, played well, gave a soft goal, scored a great goal to tie it, and lost a heartbreaker in OT.
This was a game that we had to win to maintain a chance for an A-10 playoff berth. There are two ways to look at this. One, is that we drew a schedule where we play 6 of the top 6 teams in the A-10 and only 1 of the bottom 5 teams. This seems patently unfair. The other way to look at this is that we simply did not score enough goals or produce enough quality chances to beat the teams that we needed to beat. In our 4 OT losses and 2 ties, if we had scored only 6 goals: 1 more goal in each of 6 90-minute intervals, we would be 10-6 and in 2nd place in the A-10 and on our way to the NCAA Tournament. Such is the margin between “great” and “also ran”.
I like playing the best teams possible, and love the challenge of measuring ourselves against good teams. I think we had a great draw, and my only complaint is that a team will get in ahead of us who did not play nearly as tough a conference schedule as us. Having said that, we did not win enough.
I feel badly for the seniors who had such high hopes for the season and what they dreamed of accomplishing. However, as we took the field to practice Monday night in the 40 degree, pounding rain, I saw a group of dedicated, talented athletes who had absolutely no quit in them, who never felt sorry for themselves, or asked for excuses. I can’t help but feel tremendous pride in the collective character of this team. We may not have the weapons necessary to win a Championship this year, but we have accomplished two very important things:
1) We have laid a foundation for future success that the entire team can be proud of. Our seniors have been great role models: they have played hard, played hurt, and they have never wavered in their intensity, positive attitude, or commitment to their teammates and team. They have never pointed fingers, made excuses or felt sorry for themselves. They have mentored and led their teammates in uncounted ways to become better players and people.
2) Our younger players have experienced a season that will harden them to the realities of college soccer. Their disappointment and frustration will translate into renewed effort and a rededication to the goal of winning a championship.
We have much to celebrate and much to be proud of. Time and perspective that is not possible now will one day allow us to look back at the great times that we had, great games we played. I continue to love coaching this team. My only sadness will be saying farewell to these wonderful seniors.
I hope you can come out this weekend for our final curtain call as we battle URI Friday night (senior night) and UMass on Sunday.
Thanks for your support. I will report again next week.
From the touchline,