Monday, October 29, 2012

Food for Thought

Laurie Bell, a sophomore on the 2012 Milwaukee men's soccer team, will be blogging all season long on the UWM website. Today is his 10th entry of the year.


After leaving Ohio for the fourth time this season without a win, I feel like there isn’t much to add to previous accounts of our troubled travels. The 1-0 loss to Wright State was our most disappointing performance of the season. Perhaps we were still jaded from a hard fought 10-man loss to Detroit in midweek. Personally, I blame forgetting my lucky underwear. Whatever the reason, nothing seemed to work for us this weekend and we had to endure the recognizable journey home knowing our final conference fixture against Valparaiso is now absolutely crucial if we are to qualify for postseason play.

No matter what adversities we have faced this season though, one consistent feature that shouldn’t be overlooked is the food. As in-season athletes, fueling our bodies correctly is important both before games as well as when recovering. We have enjoyed many nice meals this fall at various restaurants which has proved beneficial to our bodies. Getting the necessary calories in to replenish those we expend when playing and practicing can be a costly business. Also finding the time to feed ourselves well can be a challenge. So visits to Via, Carini’s and personal favorite Pancake House in Milwaukee have been an enjoyable and advantageous feature of our schedule. Equally, team trips to Olive Garden and Applebee’s when on the road have ensured we get the right foods in at the right times. Even though Kevin Ferron stretched our meal limitations this weekend by ordering himself 3 pre-match desserts, generally we are all satisfied with our budget allowance. So I would definitely say getting well fed is one of the major perks of being a student-athlete!

All our efforts our now concentrated on Saturday’s game, as a win will be enough to secure our place in the conference tournament. If you were to ask any of the players or staff I’m sure we would all agree that we could, and should, have achieved that feat already. But the way our results have unfolded means there is now extra significance on this game against rivals Valparaiso.

We will go into the match confident of being able to complete the job, especially as we are playing on Engelmann and have a strong home record. However, we know it is going to be a difficult task. If we manage to qualify, we know anything can then happen so it is an exciting opportunity for all of us, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. All the support possible will be greatly appreciated so come on down and cheer us on!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

5 and 0 but Ohio Woe

Laurie Bell, a sophomore on the 2012 Milwaukee men's soccer team, will be blogging all season long on the UWM website. Today is his ninth entry of the year.


Our two games this past week left us with another non-conference win, but saw our Horizon League standings take a hit after an overtime defeat at Cleveland State.

By beating Nebraska-Omaha we remained perfect at Engelmann Stadium, moving to 5-0 at home and proving what a difficult place Milwaukee is for opposition teams to come and play. Two early goals were enough to secure our win. Robbie Boyd earned an overdue first point for his great efforts this season by assisting Horvat’s game winner. And even though we couldn’t extend our lead in the second half, we defended well and saw out the game comfortably without conceding.

Our weekend game involved another long bus ride to Ohio – this time to take on Cleveland State. The game, like others we have had in the state, didn’t quite go as planned with a chaotic 5 minutes seeing us lose out, 2-1, in the early stages of overtime.

Encouragingly, the final moments of the game served to prove that Andrew Wiedabach cannot be stopped from getting his name on the score sheet for the Panthers despite being unable to play this season. The game’s commentator and the provisional statistics both credited the striker with my equalizing goal. That has subsequently been corrected, but we are all looking forward to having him scoring goals for us again for real in the future. Likewise, it will be good to have all the other guys who have had to sit this fall out because of transfer rules to come in and strengthen our squad next season.

Instead of dwelling on the match, I will talk in more detail about the accommodation aspect of the trip. The hotel we stayed in was right in the heart of Cleveland which is unusual for us, as we are normally situated in less busy regions of the cities we visit. This came as a pleasant change and provided an opportunity for many of the guys to view the city for the first time. Personally, I enjoyed our comfortable hotel, seeing the close by sports stadiums and experiencing the place as a whole but others in the team seemed to have some negative things to say about Cleveland. The comment “I can see why LeBron left” was commonly used. But seeing as though I’m not sure what ‘LeBron’ is I didn’t quite understand the reference and I remained impressed by the city nonetheless.

We will attempt to break our Ohio curse next weekend when we go on the road again to take on Wright State. Before that though we will look to beat Detroit on Wednesday, with a win guaranteeing us a place in the conference tournament. Come down to Engelmann to support us in our effort to go 6-0 at home!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Freshening Up

Laurie Bell, a sophomore on the 2012 Milwaukee men's soccer team, will be blogging all season long on the UWM website. Today is his eighth entry of the year.


We headed into a week-long break in the schedule off the back of an impressive win against Madison last Wednesday. Our solid team performance was enough to beat the strong opposition who had chances to score, but ultimately couldn’t find a way through our defense.

Perhaps after tallying so many shots without many goals to show for them in previous games meant we were due a victory this time around despite being outshot. The clean sheet was also a notable achievement for our freshman goalkeeper Connor Revsbeck on his first start for the Panthers.

Our first weekend without games for a while came as a nice change and provided us welcome opportunity for recovery. Our recent overtime appearances have meant a lot of soccer and some tired legs. So a few days of just light training and some Manther teambuilding exercises have helped to restore our energies and hunger in preparation for our next game against Nebraska-Omaha and then into further conference fixtures.

Off the field we have made a tradition of pre-practice joke telling sessions to start the day off in a positive way. But it is fair to say that as a group we’re more suited to being soccer players than comedians. A couple of comic highlights have come through Richard Johnson’s witticisms, but I think players and coaches alike need to generally step up their humor in order to get more than mild chuckles from the audience or just a defiant clap from the joke teller himself!

We look forward to getting back to competitive action this Tuesday and hope to have plenty of supporting as we aim to continue our perfect record at Engelmann Stadium.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Homeward Bound

Laurie Bell, a sophomore on the 2012 Milwaukee men's soccer team, will be blogging all season long on the UWM website. Today is his seventh entry of the year.


When we finally returned from our stretch of games on the road, we proved what a fortress we have made Engelmann Stadium this fall, going 4-0-0 at home with a win against a strong UIC side this Saturday.

We have made a solid start to our conference play, remaining unbeaten after our first three games. Our recent win following a draw at Green Bay has put us in a strong position but left us heavy legged as our last four games have gone into overtime.

Some exciting displays for the fans have been somewhat nervy for us, but we finally managed to find our first golden goal of the year in our 2-1 win over the Chicago opposition.

Away from the field Halloween preparations have begun in some of the soccer houses with pumpkins being generously donated to us by certain members of the women’s team. Our carving skills may be slightly less impressive than our female counterparts’ but points for creativity definitely go to us.

From a personal perspective this last week has been very enjoyable as my sister and her partner made the trip across the Atlantic to come visit me and watch the Manthers playing live. Some exciting soccer certainly made it worth their while but their favorite experience from their Milwaukee trip came in the form of numerous bowls of the local frozen custard.

We have just the one game this week to concentrate on with a trip to Madison followed by a break in our schedule next weekend.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Road Warriors

Laurie Bell, a sophomore on the 2012 Milwaukee men's soccer team, will be blogging all season long on the UWM website. Today is his sixth entry of the year.


As the summer sun dwindles and the Wisconsin leaves turn Panther-gold, our quest for Horizon League success begins.

The final weekend in September staged our first conference match up, resulting in a tie away at Loyola. Dorian O’Lochlayne netted his first goal for Milwaukee and we created other chances that we were unable to convert in the 120 minutes of play – our second overtime involvement in a tiring week. Leaving Chicago without a win was a little disappointing, but the 1-1 outcome against difficult opposition is a platform that we can build upon as we prepare for further crucial contests in the coming days.

Wednesday nights exciting fixture against Green Bay is now the focus of all our attentions. With the Chancellors Cup on the line and a conference victory being fought for, the match will be played with a healthy rivalry between the two familiar teams. The game will be the culmination of our month on the road which has yielded mixed results while certainly helping to build team togetherness.

Last Tuesday’s trip to Ohio ended bitterly as we narrowly lost out to a golden goal at Bowling Green University. Despite our attacking soccer, dominant pressure and the encouragement from Monty Stevenson’s vuvuzela, we weren’t able to bring a win back with us on the increasingly familiar eight-hour journey home.

The midweek game involved another overnight stay in a hotel. Traveling has provided opportunities for us to spend concentrated time in one another’s company which has been good for the squad as a whole. It is particularly beneficial in helping the new guys to integrate into our close team environment so there have been a lot of positives to take out of our recent away days.

Now is time to turn our good team morale and some strong performances into results on the field. We have high ambitions for this fall and winning conference games is crucial for us to achieve our goals as a team.