I came on for the last 20 minutes against Yale, when the match was still 0-0. After some nice buildup play between our center midfielders Sean Fahy, Jake Zuniga, and Johnny Martinez, the ball was played wide to our left back George Newton. I was playing left wing at the time and as George ran with the ball I stayed wide to give him space to come inside. He looked up, took a touch and bent the ball into the right side netting of the goal. After withstanding Yale’s final pushes to equalize in the last 10 minutes, we escaped with a good 1-0 win.
With only two days rest in between games, we travelled to Brooklyn to play LIU. LIU’s home field was right in the middle of the city, with buildings on all four sides. It was a bit like playing in a cage. I was still not in the starting lineup, but I texted my friend Tiffany Weimer and told her I felt I was on the verge of getting into the team. “Keep positive and keep your head up, you’ll get your chance”, she told me. The match was a bit sluggish to start, with neither team really creating any clear-cut chances. Around the 35th minute, a ball was crossed into the box by the LIU left winger and their center forward got his head to it and put it in the bottom corner. 1-0 LIU. Five minutes later, I was in the game, playing as a right back, my most comfortable position. Halftime came and our coach told us we needed to push the tempo and put them on the back foot.
We knew the second goal wasn’t far away. As the overtime started, our central defender Adam Cowen stripped the center forward and played a ball into our center mid Dan Shaw. He played a great ball in behind the back four again, but this time to Tim West. Tim was playing on my side, and all I could see was his first touch that split two defenders, and then a toe-poke that flew into the top corner! We all jumped on top of Tim as he ripped his shirt off. We had beaten LIU 2-1 in overtime, and I had played the entire second half and overtime. After the game, I checked the Adidas Micoach that I have in my cleats, and in the second half alone it said I ran more than 5 miles. Typically, a fullback will run 5-6 miles over 90 minutes, which put into perspective for me, how hard I had worked to help us win the game.
Two days later, we prepared for our toughest test in Northeastern. I had been in the starting 11 for the two days before the game in training, so I had a feeling I was going to start. Even though I was starting, and despite the fact that Northeastern were going to be one of the best teams we’ve played, I wasn’t anxious at all. I felt that my preparation for this game started way back in January, so there was no need to be nervous. The game ended up being a very high intensity battle. We were on top for periods, and then Northeastern would have a period where they were on top of us. As I had done in the LIU game, I continued to press forward and get involved in the attack. I actually created some of good scoring chances in the match. The first was about halfway through the first half, our forward Reco played a ball back to me at the top of the box and I played it across the face of the goal. It was deflected back to me, and with my second attempt a defender inside the six-yard box blocked it. We continued to push for the winning goal during the second half, and continued to stay high up the pitch. Our back four was defending very well, and I was continuing to get involved going forward. As the play developed on the left flank, I began to sneak forward until one of our players got the ball and played me into the 18-yard box. As I ran toward the corner of the box to get the ball, one of the Northeastern players shoved me from behind without getting near to the ball. The spectators and my teammates shouted for a penalty, but nothing was given.
I’ve been reflecting on the game for the last few days, and the goal has still been bothering me. Today I finally had a chance to put it behind me as I watched the film of the game and know that I did everything I could to help us win the game. It just didn’t happen for us this time. When I watched the film, I kept track of the number of passes I had attempted and the number of passes I completed. I had 34 passes and completed 28 of them, which works out to 80%. The next game I play, I obviously want to improve that percentage to above 90%, and to the point where I never give the ball away. Regardless of whether I stay in the starting lineup the rest of the season, I am going to continue to work hard on my own to get better technically. The next game I play, I want us to win above all, and I want to complete 100% of my passes. Tim Tebow has a quote that I love, and it goes, “If you constantly try to reach pe.rfection at everything, you’re not going to reach it, but you’re going to get close. And that means that you’re going to get close to excellence and that’s what we’re always striving for”
Although we wanted to go 3-0-0 this week, we came 1 minute away from going unbeaten, and if we continue to try to do better every week as individuals and as a team, then the sky is the limit for how far we can go