WES JOHNSON - MEN'S SOCCER
September 28, 2007
Last week was a huge week for UAB soccer. Each practice was great, and everyone seemed to be getting in their groove. We knew that if we were going to be successful in Indiana, we'd have to bring our A-game.
And we did just that! It was a very long trip by bus up to Bloomington, Indiana. We don't usually take the whole team with us to away games, but this game was special, and every eligible player joined us. We could tell that Coach Getman was excited to get the chance to finally settle the score with Indiana, his alma mater. Up until Friday the 21st our overall record against Indiana was 0-1-2. Our new goalkeeper coach was also thrilled to be back in Indiana - seeing as Coach Yarborough played at Indiana from '91-'95.
The atmosphere was amazing on Friday night and we were in top form. We had control of the game throughout the first 20 minutes or so, especially after Dejan Jakovic scored for us in the 12th minute. After he scored, the crowd went completely silent except for 20 or so family members of the Blazers' squad. They snuck a goal in 14 minutes into the second half to tie it up, and we knew we had to hold it down defensively because they began to lead attack after attack on our goal.
In the 83rd minute the ref awarded the Hoosiers with a penalty kick (I say awarded because Indiana's ref denied us a penalty kick only a few minutes prior when Frank Brown was taken down hard in their box). I was praying so hard that I'd save it and keep us in the game. I made my decision and put it in my mind not to even hesitate, but to dive as hard as I could to my left side. Turns out, that's exactly where the ball went, and I safely parried it around the post. The guys were ecstatic and that was just enough to keep us pumped for the last 15 minutes or so. It was great hearing the crowd go silent too, and I could actually pick out my mom's screaming voice from the stands - everyone was so excited!
The game was so intense! And finally in the last minute of play, Bobby Chanthongpio gave Dejan a long ball using one of his clever karate-looking volleys and Dejan capitalized on the opportunity to put Indiana out of the game.
We beat the #10 ranked Hoosiers at their place 2-1 evening the overall record between us at 1-1-2. The feeling was indescribable. It was like winning an away championship game.
The trip back to Birmingham was obviously just as long, but it seemed to fly by. We stopped in Nashville at a mall near Opryland and visited the Nike store to stretch our legs before making our arrival in Birmingham. The atmosphere was great on the bus after that win and we knew that Sunday's game would be so important, especially after winning a big game over Indiana.
Unfortunately, despite going to bed early, getting treatment, and staying hydrated, our main 14 or so guys just didn't have the steam to take care of Jacksonville University. It was a real downer losing 1-0 to a team that we thought we should have beat.
Going into practice this week we had a new attitude after trying to forget the feeling of losing, while learning from it and applying it all week. We seem to be back in top form and ready for our first conference game of the season against South Carolina tomorrow night. We're hoping to get a lot of support and come 9:00 PM or so have one more victory added to our record.
Wish us luck! And until next week... Go Blazers!