Monday, November 12, 2012

Over and Out

Laurie Bell, a sophomore on the 2012 Milwaukee men's soccer team, wrote the team blog all season on the UWM website. Today is his 12th and final entry of the year.


It has been an enjoyable, progressive and encouraging season. But now, sadly, it has come to an end.

Losing in the quarter final of the conference tournament on a miserable night in Valparaiso was a regrettable way to finish. I think we all genuinely believed we were capable of extending our postseason play further. And after watching from the sidelines, suspended due to yellow card accumulation and frustrated, I, like lots of the guys, was emotional as the final whistle blew on our competitive involvement this fall. But looking back over the last few months we have reason to be happy, as there is much to celebrate about the program and much to look forward to next year.

After summer we had to settle in quickly to a new set-up brought in by coaches who were appointed not long before our initial training began. We adapted successfully to this challenge and now a stable and content environment for the team to work in has been created – one I am confident that this program will thrive under in seasons to come. And our overall record is evidence of improvement already. Finishing 8-8-2 was superior to how we have fared in the last few years and our home record of 6-1 is a real achievement that is deserving of praise.

With 14 of our 18 games being decided by just 1 goal, we provided plenty of excitement for the spectators too. Perhaps this exposes our occasional inability to kill off opponents but it also proves the never-say-die attitude we showed throughout the season. Our team’s togetherness ensured we competed and still believed up until the final minutes – or the final second as was the case with a couple of our most dramatic games this year.

Ultimately, it has been a season to look back on with satisfaction even if a feeling of ‘what might have been’ still lingers. James Ashcroft, Aaron Horvat, Declan Rodriguez and myself received individual honors which is something to be proud of, but the whole squad is worthy of recognition for our achievements and attitudes this year. We won games, impressed spectators and enjoyed ourselves as we did it. Now we must say a sad goodbye to our seniors but also welcome some new guys who will only strengthen the team. We all look forward to a promising 2013 which will hopefully be a more successful season still. Just so long as we don’t schedule any more games in Ohio!

I would like to thank everybody who followed my blog this fall. I hope you have been entertained and not too confused by my British-ness and have had as much fun reading as I did writing.

Over and out.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Senior Night Success

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 11th entry of the year.


We said some official goodbyes Saturday night to our seniors and our home field, but managed to keep our season alive with a well-earned victory against Valparaiso.

The night started out emotionally with the presentation of senior awards to our three departing Panthers, Jamie Bladen, John Shakon and Cody Banks. Their parents were invited up to receive their deserved honors alongside them. Cody’s and John’s family proudly marched out their sons to cheers from the crowd. But as Jamie’s name was announced, he was accompanied by a man who looked suspiciously like our athletic trainer, John Ochsenwald, instead of any Bladen relation.

Nonetheless, in the absence of his real father on the night, who couldn’t make the trip across the Atlantic, Ox hugged him like a son to warm applause from the team for one of our star players this fall. All three seniors have indeed contributed hugely to the program over their years here and I’m sure everybody who knows them wishes them well in whatever futures lay ahead.

We also played our final game of the season at Engelmann field on Saturday. Finishing with a victory was both crucial for our post-season participation and fitting for the way we have played at home this year. A final record of 6-1 at Engelmann has provided the backbone for our team’s winning record and this has come about from a mixture of great crowd support, home confidence and familiarity of our surroundings.

We are thankful to all the fans who have cheered us on this fall and the Valparaiso game was no different. Our 2-1 win had a lot of positives. It was our first victory in four outings, it secured fifth place in the division and Kyle Neumann tallied his first goal of the year.

With a bit of luck next week’s blog will not be my last, as we look to extend our season for as long as possible. We all know there is a lot of hard work to do and some good teams standing in our way, but in the post-season we also know that anything can happen!