University of New Mexico Soccer has experienced a very "surreal" three-game stretch. Highs and lows, luck, fate, circumstance, redemption, "staying the course", "in due time", "reap what you sow"……..there are a million clichés, justifications and rationalizations for outcomes in sport. As coaches, we try to identify and define what went right, what went wrong and the rationale behind every result. We try to make it a science rather than an art. Sometimes logic and sense are trumped by luck? Rather than re-live the past two games (not sure I can handle it), I'm going to give you the short and skinny version.
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 23RD 7:00 PM LOBOS VS DRAKE AT LOBO SOCCER COMPLEX
Not sure what my thinking was coming into this match. We lost a tough one the previous Sunday and luck hadn't gone our way. Drake is a good team, not a great team. They’re very defensive, with nothing to lose coming to New Mexico. I was confident in our team and excited to get things back on track. The boys were sharp from the kickoff. It was a pretty dominant performance offensively: 13-4 advantage in shots, 7-2 in corner kicks and our keeper was not challenged to make a single save the entire match. As the game progressed, the self-imposed pressure and stress began to take a toll on our team. We wanted it so bad that we began to really push…not the mark of a mature, confident team (which I think we are). With 2:30 left on the clock, a series of miscues and a perfectly lofted ball found a Drake attacker between our center backs. One-time finish and it was 1-0 Drake.
We battled and created a final quality chance but found ourselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard. Incredible! Two matches in a row where we dominated, failed to take our chances and came away devastated. Never happened before (two in a row), but there were some great lessons learned…..for all of us. We have to control what we have control over and never lose confidence or let pressure/stress get the upper hand. Understand that the result will come if patient and detail-oriented. Don't push too hard, don't get stretched and stick to the process. Despite the loss, the team was remarkably understanding and confident in our ability. I was really proud of their reaction and everyone was ready to get back on the field versus Santa Barbara three days later.
LOBOS VS CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA MONDAY SEPTEMBER 23RD 7:00 SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA
What a great test for the team. Coming off two dominating performances resulting in losses, what would our response be to a match against an excellent team in one of the most challenging environments in college soccer? The Lobo performance was a tremendous one! We were tough, focused, confident and patient. Santa Barbara was very dangerous for the opening 25 minutes and put us under a great deal of pressure via direct play. Our defenders stayed the course, defended well, as we made some adjustments and weathered the storm. We re-gained our footing and got a hold of the game the final 15 minutes of the first half.
The second half was ours! The boys kept the ball, defended intelligently, ferociously and played with patience and confidence. As the clock wound down to the final minutes of the match, it looked like overtime. With 15 seconds left on the clock, James Rogers got ahold of the ball deep in the UCSB half…pass to Niko Hansen in the box….Hansen with a near post blast with twelve seconds remaining on the clock. It was 1-0 Lobos with a well-deserved outstanding victory. In a fairly even match statistically, it was an 8-6 Lobo advantage in shots, 8-5 corners and Lisch challenged to make one save. I was really proud of the team and the display of maturity, focus and confidence.
Just filmed the latest episode of "Fish Off The Pitch" and spoke candidly with host Richard Stevens about the emotions experienced over the past two matches. It should post tonight. I went out on a limb and broke out one of my favorite shirts.
We are back home this Friday to close out non-conference play.
LOBOS VERSUS UC DAVIS FRIDAY - SEPTEMBER 27TH 7:30 PM - UNM SOCCER COMPLEX
Looking forward to getting back in front of our home crowd.
Thanks for all your support and GO LOBOS!
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