Wednesday, October 21, 2015

In Search of A Winning Spark

Dustin Ashley, a captain on the 2015 Milwaukee men's soccer team, will be the new blog author for the squad this season. He will be blogging all year long on the UWM website.

Today is his sixth entry of the campaign as he chronicles the adventures of the team during his senior season.


It’s been quite a relief being at home for these last few weeks. I apologize to all the readers for not getting a blog out sooner. It has been a busy last couple of weeks with classes and coaching, as well as both midweek and weekend games.

Last Wednesday we hosted in-state rival Green Bay in the final cup game of the season, playing to host the Chancellor’s Cup, and we were in need of another conference win as well. The boys were certainly up for the importance of the game, but we fell to the Phoenix in a 2-0 battle.

This past weekend also we were lucky to have another home conference game against Wright State, the team that eliminated us from the Horizon League Tournament last year, so we had a bone to pick with them. As a group, we made a few tactical changes to put ourselves in the best position to get a result against a very good Wright State team, but we were unable to find the back of the net and suffered a 1-0 defeat.

A few of the guys have picked up some knocks along the way as well. Freshman left back and English dream boy Josh Kaye has been most likely sidelined with an ankle injury for the remainder of the season. He can be found crutching around campus if anyone wishes to piggyback him to class. Some of the mothers of the team have been teaming up and making us meals for after our games, and the spread has been incredible. There was a taco/pasta salad that was a heavy hit and the recipe was immediately asked for by fellow captain Declan Rodriguez. It was good to see him pursuing other meals to cook at home as he’s recently been going with routine microwaved smores.

Despite not getting the results we have been hoping for as of late, the guys are still in good spirits. Everyone shows up every day ready to work to get out of this little slump we are in, and we will. We have a very good group of players and we will find a way to grind out games. We know what we need to achieve to allow us to find a way into postseason play and we are very committed to fulfilling that, as we all hold the same expectations. We have instilled a mindset that every game, every play matters, and we strive to be sharp at all moments of the game.

The guys have been getting the job done off the field as well with their commitments in the classroom. Tuesday night at the women’s volleyball game, the athletic department acknowledged the student athletes from each team that reached a 3.0 GPA last semester in the classroom and we had a good number of our guys that achieved that.

Next up, our last in-state rival, the Wisconsin Badgers will be coming to Engelmann Field Wednesday night. Both teams are looking to bounce back with a win, making it a key showdown. Next time checking in with my blog followers, I will be sharing with you winning results instead!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sticking To Our LeWang Ways

Dustin Ashley, a captain on the 2015 Milwaukee men's soccer team, will be the new blog author for the squad this season. He will be blogging all year long on the UWM website.

Today is his fifth entry of the campaign as he chronicles the adventures of the team during his senior season.


Pumpkins are hitting the porches, green and gold are filling campus on Packer game days, and stadium coats and pants are coming out for night games. Fall is an awesome time of the year. There is always so much going on within the city of Milwaukee and Horizon League soccer is getting into the heart of conference play. It has been a pleasant change having a few games back at Englemann to play in front of our home fans and not having to travel as much. It was a key last couple of weeks with us being able to get some quality training sessions in and get the guys with some knocks the proper treatment to get healthy again. The athletic department has been generous enough to help us athletes with our recovery after training sessions by getting us chocolate milk, granola bars and fruit. We have been very appreciative of having these recovery snacks to enjoy while ice bathing after a few hours of hard work on the field. But you must keep a look out for Ox, our team trainer, as if one has an open chocolate milk on the carpeting, you’re in for an ear full.

We had yet another home conference match against Valparaiso, a regionally-ranked opponent who has been grinding out wins as of late. It was a chilly Saturday night, with fan bundled in blankets and the hot chocolate was in full force. The game was wide open for a majority of the match, both teams struggling to find a chance to bury away. Unfortunately, Valpo caught us out of shape and countered to score what would be the games only goal. It was our team’s first conference and home loss. It was good to see the guys so upset with the result though, as we, as an entire group have been playing great football and our team expectations are extremely high this year. We just need to start picking up the results we deserve to show for our efforts. We couldn’t dwell on the game though. Talking as a group, we felt that we needed to be better in the final 3rd, meaning in front of the goal, we had to finish our chances. Our training sessions were structured around just that. Our staff challenged us the following week of training in various finishing games, combination activities, and lots of repetitions of crossing and finishing.

We also were able to squeeze our annual team photo in this last week for the 2015 fall squad. The team photos have been said to be hot commodities around campus amongst the female student body. Just what I have heard. Also, a roster update. Our goal keepers always wear different colors at training and what a pleasant surprise it is to see the blue/red wearing goof balls in full force again. Freshman Sam Glass is back to consistent training after battling an ankle issue. And ... there has been a return of the legendary John Stahr, a great goal keeper who has put in lots of time and commitment the past few years who stepped away after last fall. It is great having Johnny Stahr back in the locker room and on the pitch, as he always brings great leadership to the group by leading by example with his training work ethic.

Tuesday night, we set off for a road game to DeKalb, Illinois to take on annual opponents, Northern Illinois. This is one of our three cup games, where the winner takes possession of the LeWang Cup. I personally told the group in our pre-match chat, that this is my fourth season here at UWM and not once have we allowed NIU to take possession of the LeWang Cup, and tonight wasn’t going to be any different. They were also a regionally-ranked team coming into the night. We conceded a set piece goal that we felt was a soft goal to give up. The second half, we challenged the group to test our character and see how hard we could fight to get back into this game, and we rose to the test. John Stadler came on in the second half and found himself on the end of a set piece back post and buried it. A few minutes later, Nick Moon created some space on his own and whipped a curing shot in around the keeper. And once again we raised the Lewang trophy at the end of the night. It is personally sitting right next to me on the bus in the seat next to me. Assistant coach Luke Goodnetter, former teammate of mine, approached me at half time and told me to really get the guys going and jacked up to battle the second half, as we can’t let games slip away from us. The season flies by and he told me as a senior, if that happened, I would certainly regret it. It’s nights like these that make college soccer special. Tonight was a night that I will remember where our guys found a way to get the job done, and get this trophy right back to coach’s office where it belongs.

This win honestly feels like a momentum change. With the style of football we play and how well we keep the ball for the majority of games, we deserve to win games. We will use this game as a standard and example of how we need finish games out and find ways to pick up 3 points. Off to Belmont this weekend for the program’s first road game at their university. The team has every intention of sticking to our winning ways and securing another conference win. Maybe even throwing on the cowboy boots and flannels and getting out to see a bit of the historic musical city. Looking forward to the game, not the 10-hour trek. For all the local Milwaukee Panther fans, while we are away, follow along with the game, but hope you can all get out and enjoy Oktoberfest in the city. See you all back home next week!