Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Closing Out October

Peter Sanger, a senior on the 2010 Milwaukee men's soccer team, will be blogging all season long on the UWM website. Today is his 10th blog entry.


Last Saturday night’s win over Loyola was a great win, but following a day off on Sunday, we had a quick turnaround for a midweek game at Oakland in Michigan on Wednesday afternoon. Our team had suffered a couple knocks, so myself and Tony Maxey were unavailable to travel, plus a lot of other players traveling were definitely struggling a bit going into the match. No matter how much work you put into your fitness and physical well being during the season, once October rolls around, the injuries tend to start mounting up. The college soccer season isn’t necessarily very long, but it’s a lot of games, backed into a short bit of time.

Thankfully, we were able to grab an early lead and boss the game, allowing some players to get some much needed rest during the match and pulled out a 2-0 result against a tough non-conference team. Despite not being there to see it, Andrew Wiedabach was the man of the match setting up our first goal to Rexy (Jordan Record) and personally supplying the insurance goal later in the game. Also, John Shakon provided some fine goalkeeping; coming up with a lot of crucial interventions which prevented a shift in the tides during the match.

Once again, Saturday was another quick turnaround. UIC has been a quality opponent that we just haven’t been able to beat since I’ve been here at UWM. They’re a side predicated on keeping possession and sitting deep behind the ball when defending. We felt pretty confident going into the game though, on the heels of a two-game winning streak. Personally, I was excited for us to get back on our home field and excited about getting back from injury. No matter how hard the work is in practice, it’s always worth it in the end when you get to play the games and there’s nothing worse than having to sit out.

The game started somewhat slowly as both teams seemed to be undergoing a bit of a feeling out process of one another. We had a couple half-chances, but went into half-time level at 0-0. Once again, we talked about how we just knew it was a matter of raising our own level and working harder to get the job done. We spent the entire second half taking the game to them. We dominated the possession, shots, shots on goal, and corners, but just couldn’t find the game winner.

Before we knew it, 90 minutes was up and overtime was beckoning. Having just won our last conference game in overtime, it was just a matter of converting one chance to put it away and clinch a berth in the conference tournament. Unfortunately, we squandered a couple golden chances and were left made to pay as our back-line dropped too far off of their striker and he converted a bending shot to win the game off of the near post.

For not the first time, we were left to look back on a game knowing we thoroughly outplayed our opponents, but dropped the result. Perhaps we’re still lacking a bit of that winning mentality. It always seems like there’s so little that divides teams in sports, but that little bit that separates the losers from the winners proves to be paramount in the end. We’ve come a long way since the 0-8 start my freshman year, but change always takes time.

Unfortunately, for myself and the other seniors, we’re rapidly running out of that. The biggest positive for us is that there are still games to play. We get another chance at in-state rivals UW-Madison on Wednesday followed by a HUGE last conference match-up against Wright State. Luckily, we’ll be playing at home and they’ll be forced to travel all the way from Ohio to play us.

So if I could please just ask one favor of the fans: please come out this upcoming Saturday night, October 30th, to support us against the Raiders of Wright State at 7 p.m. on Engelmann Field.

This week, I want to thank not only our athletic training staff, headed by John Ochsenwald, but also PT Calvin Deutsch for helping me get back and playing so quickly. It really took a cooperative effort to get me back playing so fast from my ankle injury and if Calvin hadn’t taken time out of his busy schedule to help me out, there’s no way I would’ve been on the field against UIC. For an aspiring physical therapist and an obsessed soccer fan, I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be helping me out. Just for kicks, I’m attaching a couple of pictures of what super swollen sprained ankle looks like.

The first one is of it just looking fat as can be and the other is after compressing it for a couple of hours with a horse-shoe shaped pad to attempt to push some of the swelling out of that area. Well, not to let Ashy down, until next week’s post…

Joga Bonito

P.S. Ashy-how does it feel to finally win, yet still be mired in the relegation zone? ALLEZ ARSENAL!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Overtime Again?!?

Peter Sanger, a senior on the 2010 Milwaukee men's soccer team, will be blogging all season long on the UWM website. Today is his ninth blog entry.


Following the gut-wrenching loss to Green Bay, when Monday rolled around we knew it was time to brush ourselves off and get back to work. A good week of practice followed and we went into Saturday night’s match against Loyola feeling confident about getting back to a .500 record in Horizon League play.

The game started slow for us again, which unfortunately seems to be becoming a habit of ours. However, we got into halftime level at 0-0 and knew that we could make amends in the second half. As Coach Shepherd put it, “a couple weeks from now, nobody’s going to remember the bad first 45 minutes once we win the game in the second half.”

Starting the half with that attitude, we began to take the game to the Ramblers. Although we didn’t get a goal in regular time, we felt that we were really knocking on the door going into extra time. Finally with only about a minutes time to spare, freshman Riley Weiner used some intelligent skill on the ball to jink his way past a couple defenders at the top of the box and slotted the ball far-post and into the back of the net.

Our bench exploded onto the field in a similar fashion as we did after Robbie Boyd’s winner at Valpo earlier in the season. Personally, I fell off the bench as I kind of forgot about the fact that I was icing an injured ankle at the time, but the pain and embarrassment was worth it when getting to celebrate with the rest of the team on their field.

Once again we proved to not only ourselves but the rest of the league that in any given game, against any given team, we’re definitely a squad to be reckoned with and that the goal can come from anywhere. Furthermore, we have two conference home games to look forward to in our attempt to break into the upper echelon of the league. We’ll hope to carry this momentum forward when we face Oakland in a tough non-conference match-up on Wednesday and then UIC at home on Saturday night.

This week I just want to thank the traveling fans that have made our seemingly never-ending road games a lot easier. But in particular, I want to thank one fan who made it down this weekend that’s been not only one of the soccer team’s biggest fans, but a fan of all of the sports here at UWM: Michael Poll. If you don’t know Mike, you’re really missing out. He’s a ubiquitous presence on campus and his unwavering support towards all athletes at UWM is a huge lift. He’s one of the loudest fans at games, which really boosts your morale when you’re playing in the game.

So whether he’s shooting hoops at the Klotchke, wooing some ladies around campus, or coming into the locker room to give us the latest run-down on his latest travels of the day, Michael never fails to put a smile on your face and is truly the best 12th man we could ever have. Cheers Mike! Until next week,

Joga Bonito

Monday, October 11, 2010

The New Home Field is Ready

Peter Sanger, a senior on the 2010 Milwaukee men's soccer team, will be blogging all season long on the UWM website. Today is his eighth blog entry.


Upon arriving back from Cleveland State, a sweet reward was waiting for us; a newly finished Engelmann Field. That meant we could spend our entire week practicing on campus for the first time since I’ve been at UWM. It was a great way to start preparing for one of the biggest games of the season against Green Bay.

Throughout the week we got a good chance to get a feel for the new turf field and it really is the best artificial surface I’ve ever played on. I was never a big fan of turf and was really disappointed when I first found out that Engelmann would be undergoing the switch, but I’m slowly warming up to it now.

I think a big part of that has to do with the fact that UWM went out and found the best possible surface for us to get, leaving us with a FIFA approved field, the only one of it’s kind in all of North America. Not only will this provide us with a more convenient practice location, but it will also allow us to increase the amount of playing on our home field, allow for less maintenance costs, allow us to schedule classes closer to training times, increase campus awareness of the team and even allow us to use it as a recruiting tool when showing it to potential incoming recruits. All in all, the field looks great, plays great and is definitely a positive addition to UWM Soccer.

However, that wasn’t the only exciting new development for the soccer program this week. We underwent some human performance tests this week measuring our heart rate, oxygen consumption, lactate levels, etc., and will begin to start wearing heart rate monitors during training this fall. Why is this exciting or important you might ask? Well, now during practice our coaches can have an idea of how hard they’re pushing us and whether we need to scale our practices down, increase the intensity, or continue as we are. The human body is an amazing thing and to be able to have the opportunity to use such advanced equipment will definitely only benefit our team.

Going into Saturday’s game we spent a lot of time at practice focusing on keeping our tempo high on offense and moving the ball a lot all around the field when in possession. Against Cleveland State we had a lot of success when we limited our touches and worked the ball around, ultimately tiring them out, allowing us to score the game winner in overtime. Furthermore, we knew Green Bay was a quality side, possessing a true match-winner in the form of All-American JC Banks.

We went into the game knowing that if we played our game well, we could get a positive result, so we were really confident going into our first home game Saturday night. Saturday was a beautiful day and come 7 p.m., there was a huge crowd, clear skies and an overall electric atmosphere.

We started the game with a lot of desire, but spent the majority of the first half playing far too direct and found ourselves heading into the locker room down 1-0 off of a goal from JC following a corner. We didn’t stay with our marks and really only had ourselves to blame. We weren’t ready to throw in the towel however, and after a productive half-time talk, we came out playing our soccer in the second half.

Much more passing and movement on the ball resulted in a much-deserved equalizer not too long into the half. I was able to cut inside of my defender on the left side, slide in a cross to Andrew Wiedabach, who flicked it on for Cody Banks to stab home from the six-yard box. It was a great goal and we really started to feel the momentum turn for us. Unfortunately, late in the second half, we were reduced to ten men. Freshman defender James Ashcroft was ruled to have taken down JC Banks as the last defender and shown a red card for his offense. It looked to me like minimal contact, but JC went down leaving the ref with a game-changing decision to make.

Much to our dismay, he went straight into his pocket for the red and we found ourselves at a numerical disadvantage. We made it to overtime at 1-1 and decided we weren’t going to let the numbers game hold us back and vowed to continue attacking when possible, because we knew only a win would get us the Chancellor's Cup back. We created the most dangerous of the chances in overtime, but a mistake in the back allowed JC to slip in his second goal of the match, ending the game in the second overtime.

It was a tough result to handle, as we had put so much into the game, dominated the second half, and then lost in front of our home crowd, on a play we could have prevented. It just goes to show that you have to be mentally switched on to play a full 90, and sometimes 110 minutes if you’re going to succeed at this level. It’s something we’re still working on and will continue to do for the rest of the season.

Fortunately, now we have a week to recover and regroup before heading to Loyola this Saturday night with a chance to get back in the win column.

For this week, I want to make sure to thank all of those supporting us in the Athletic Department at UWM. This includes Kathy Litzau, Tom Vollman, Kevin Fitzgerald, Chris Zills, as well as former Athletic Director George Koonce and the many more that I might be forgetting to mention. The first three years here for me was a bit of a mess at times, but when the Athletic Department stepped in and brought us an excellent new coaching staff and a brand new state of the art field, it really showed us players their commitment to making UWM Men’s soccer something that we’d be proud to be a part of. I know that the program is only going to continue to improve from now on and I just wanted to make sure to thank all of those who have and continue to play a huge part in that.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Return to Engelmann Awaits...

Peter Sanger, a senior on the 2010 Milwaukee men's soccer team, will be blogging all season long on the UWM website. Today is his seventh blog entry.


Our second week of Horizon League play brought the dreaded bus rides from Milwaukee to Detroit, Detroit to Cleveland and then from Cleveland back to Milwaukee. They were two winnable conference games to elevate our status in the league. Following our loss to Butler, we talked about needing to cut out needless mistakes in the back and provide more clinical finishing up front. Training was pretty good throughout the week and we left Milwaukee on Thursday afternoon feeling confident about our chances of collecting six points from the weekend.

If you’ve never been to Detroit, let me save you the trip and let you know right now it’s nothing to write home about. Hit hard by the recession, there were tons of empty buildings without businesses to fill them. At one point Rosie counted a liquor store on 10 straight blocks. Going into the match we knew Detroit was a hard working team who looked to make up for a lack of talent with an abundance of fight. The game started flat from both teams and another costly mistake in the back saw us head into half time 1-0 down.

The coaching staff obviously wasn’t pleased and we headed into the second half with 45 minutes to rescue the game. Unfortunately, about 10 minutes into the second half we found ourselves down 2-0 and in a bit of disbelief. Finally, the fight kicked in and we started playing like the team we are. We pulled a goal back via Tony Maxey’s fine header off of a nicely struck free kick from Ross. However, it was too little too late. We couldn’t find an equalizer despite a couple of great chances and could only blame ourselves when the final whistle blew.

The type of urgency we showed towards the end of the game is the type of energy we need to bring at the beginning of the games, not just when falling behind a goal or two. The only positive was that we knew we had another game just two days later to make amends for such a poor showing. We hopped on the bus and headed to Cleveland.

Saturday was spent recovering and focusing on what we needed to do better. A pool workout in the morning was followed by some tactics talk in the meeting room of the hotel. We didn’t focus too much on what Cleveland State would be bringing on Sunday, because we knew that as long as we do what we do well, the rest would take care of itself.

Following dinner that night, we went as a team to see the film The Social Network. Being an admittedly avid facebook user myself, it was a pretty interesting movie and a good alternative to spending the night sitting in our hotel rooms watching bad television.

On Sunday we packed up all of our stuff and got on the bus for our game against CSU. A much better start by us had CSU on the defensive from the beginning. We spent almost the entire first half in their end and it felt like it was only a matter of time before we scored. The Vikings provided a couple of scares on some counter attacks, but we were definitely in the driver’s seat. The second half was more of the same.

I remember specifically a 15-minute period, or so, where it’s hard to remember our opponents possessing the ball at all. Yet we still couldn’t find a goal, so we headed back towards our respective benches after 90 minutes squared at 0-0. In the first period of overtime, Andrew turned his defender nicely and got down the end line, pulling back the ball to Jordan Record, only for him to send his shot just high. We believed, though, and went into the second overtime just as confident about scoring the game-winning goal.

Finally we reaped our reward for our dominance in the game when Ross chipped a ball across the box to me and I squared it for Rexy (Jordan Record) to tap-in for the victory. Knowing that we ended their 17 game home-unbeaten streak made it all that much sweeter. Although we only came away with three of the six possible points for the weekend, it was a good way to end the weekend and definitely made the long ride home more bearable.

Sitting at 3-5-2 (2-2-0 in conference) might not be what we were aiming for, but if you consider that we have yet to play a real home game this season, it’s not all bad. We’ve already equaled our wins total from last season, so now it’s all about continuing to show how far we’ve come from last year. We’ll be looking to continue doing so come next Saturday, October 9. We take on UW-Green Bay at 7 p.m. at the newly-redone Engelmann field for our real home opener. We’ll be counting on a lot of fans to come out and support us as we look to start a little momentum within the Horizon League.

This week my thank you is for our Athletic Trainer John Ochsenwald. Not only has he provided me with tons of assistance via treatment, but also he’s been the one constant positive staff member throughout my career at UWM. Every season is a grind physically, but the mental and emotional tax can be the greatest. Having a staff member who constantly has your best interests in mind can make all the difference. The training room is somewhat of a safe haven at Engelmann, where you can go to get away from the stress and enjoy a laugh with John and fellow players. I can honestly say that if it weren’t for his positive influence, myself and the other seniors probably would not have made it through the past three years. Thus, whether it’s joking around with him in the back of the bus on a long road trip or trying to figure out the best way to get you back on the field after an injury, either way you know he’s got your back. So here’s to you “Ox”!

Until next time,

Joga Bonito