Brutal road trip to the east coast! Time change, traffic, humidity, lots of people, delays…..very different environment from the “Land if Enchantment”. There was also no green chile either. The University of New Mexico Lobo Soccer Team covered quite a few miles and time zones this past weekend. We departed early Thursday morning for Richmond, Virginia and a Friday night match versus newly 17th ranked Virginia Commonwealth. 4
Our hotel was right in the middle of the historic district. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War with southern hospitality and a very different vibe. Southern Colonial architecture and a constant reminder of the South and the “War Between the States”. The boys didn't comment too much about the significance of this time in our country’s history. The international boys were very intrigued and seemed to show the greatest interest. From Richmond, we traveled two hours to Washington D.C. Saturday afternoon, for Sunday's match versus eleventh-ranked Georgetown. The Hoyas were a NCAA finalist last year and are coached by Albuquerque native, Brian Weise. Two big time matches on the road. We would know a lot more about our team come Sunday night!
I have officially switched into "in-season coaching mode". It’s four and hopefully, five months of total immersion. Coaching is an emotional roller-coaster. I think winning is more about relief and getting to live another day or week. Losing, is painful and the walls seem to be coming down on top of you. As a collegiate coach, you try to rationalize that you are working for an educational institution, you are developing young men, you are a community servant…..winning is secondary. The reality, is that the majority of people gauge your success by the numbers following your name. To watch my contemporaries go through the emotions of a game is painful. Experiencing them myself, even more so... Regardless of the level we are coaching, you want to win more than anything in the world!
I just got done watching the post-game interview of an old friend’s first game as a head coach in the NFL. My first job was at Fort Lewis College and Casey Bradley came in with me as a first year assistant football coach. We both were ambitious and competitive….too competitive. Basketball, fishing, recruiting, who could work harder and longer hours….it never stopped. After watching his interview following a drubbing at the hands of Kansas City (his first game as head coach), I felt for him. He is making millions of dollars, but dying inside. The ones who want you to win the most, are your family members. If you win, things are good at home. If you lose, sleepless nights and a zombie buying time until the next game and a chance for redemption. Luckily, all is good in my house……for at least another week!
LOBOS VS. #17 VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH RAMS
VCU is a very talented team with plenty of firepower. We played them in 2004 and this year’s team was very similar: speed, skill and wide open play. We came out very strong and had the upper hand from the opening. The only time VCU threatened, was a result of direct play over the top or second balls in high areas. We defended well and scored a great goal in the 43rd minute. James Wypych got service from the left flank for a James Rogers finish. It was 1-0 Lobos heading into halftime. We came out strong in the second and the game was very comfortable. In the 55th minute, big ball over the top and our GK hesitated on his line. Their blazing forward got a toe on the ball and found the back of the net. 1-1 with the goal coming against the run of play. Play evened out a bit and the match finished in a very disappointing 1-1 tie. We outshot VCU 21-5 and hit the post on two occasions. It was a tough one. VCU proved to be a class team, beating #5 Maryland 3-2 on Sunday. After playing 110 minutes of soccer, I was worried if the boys would have their legs on Sunday at #11 Georgetown?
LOBOS VS. #11 GEORGETOWN HOYAS
BIG MATCH! Two top collegiate teams figuring out how good they are early season! The boys seemed fresh and very focused. A real testament to the work they put in over the summer. We were tremendous in the first half. Excellent on the ball and our defense was stellar. We created chances, but couldn't find the net. Things evened out in the second half, but neither team could finish and we entered overtime for the second time in three days. It was a true test of our fitness and resolve. Four minutes into the second overtime period, James Rogers wriggled free for a close range shot….reflex save by the Hoya keeper and the ball bounced back to freshman Nick Rochowski. "Big Chow' unleashed a left footed rocket far post and found only net. 1-0 Lobos in overtime. A great win for the entire team and a real confidence builder. Can't say enough about our teams toughness and resiliency. For the match, we outshot Georgetown 15-7 and had 9 corner kicks to their 0. A very mature and well-rounded performance!
Two great tests this weekend at the Lobo Soccer Complex, as we host our annual TLC Heating, Plumbing and Cool Invitational. We play Santa Clara this Friday night at 7:00 pm and #11 ranked Cal State Northridge Sunday at 6:00 pm. Two challenging matches and the boys are itching to get back on the field.
We need your support and your membership in our booster club, the Golden Goal Club. Here's the link to the brochure.
This week's episode of "Fish Off The Pitch" will air late this afternoon.
Thanks for your support and see you Friday night at 7:00 pm.
To read The FishBlog in its entirety, click here.