September 27, 2006
Hey there Husky fans! It's been three weeks, five games, and several half-finished diary entries since I have actually submitted an addition to the 2006 Diary. I apologize for the break as I am sure you have been dying to get the behind-the-scenes look at our team as we have extended our winning streak to 8 games! We have experienced a lot over the last few weeks including our first come-from-behind win, our first overtime win, and most importantly our first Pac-10 win. As we prepare to for our games this weekend, UCLA and SDSU away, we understand it will be our biggest challenge yet.
Before I talk about this weekend I want to share about the last few weekends. This includes our trip to Wisconsin, the Husky Fever Classic, and last weekend's Pac-10 opener against Oregon State:
The Middleton Cycle and Fitness Invitational took us to Madison, Wisconsin, and for most of us it was our first time on a Big 10 campus. I was impressed with the geographical size of the campus; it stretched out and basically made up the whole downtown of Madison. It is located right on the large Lake Mendota, which freezes over in the winter enough for people to walk, ice skate, and even drive on it. I was also impressed with the masses of Badger red on College Football Saturday. Apart from campus life though, the city is really small and quiet. It was funny because the Holiday Inn where we stayed claimed to have 'the only indoor water park in the state!' This 'water park' consisted just of a pool that goes no deeper than 3 or 4 feet with a one small water slide and a play boat for little kids. It didn't really fit my vision of a 'water park,' but we all had fun in it anyway. The trip went well as did the results. The cloudy, rainy weather in Madison on Sunday didn't match our moods as we left with a pair of wins against two tough Midwest teams. I think we were all relieved to arrive back home to Seattle with the crisp fall air, changing leaves, and our more picturesque Lake Washington!
Training back home, the energy in the team was great as we looked forward to finally hosting a tournament of our own! The Husky Fever Classic matched us up against NIU and Marshall. We had never played NIU in the programs' history but we certainly weren't intimidated. The only intimidation occurring in that game was a result of George John's new protective face mask (a result of a broken nose in Wisconsin). I was just glad we were on the same team! We rolled to a 5-0 victory that night, and began preparing for Marshall, our Sunday opponent. Sunday was an important game for us because it tested our ability to keep our focus throughout the weekend and produce a good result on Sunday as well as Friday. We saw Portland put up a 6-0 victory vs. Marshall on Friday night only to lose to NIU on Sunday. We were not planning on reproducing that result swing. Fortunately we came out on Sunday with a pro mentality and got the job done, earning the Husky Fever Classic trophy.
With a successful preseason behind us, our team prepared to start Pac-10 play. For our first weekend we only had one game on a Sunday, so we had a couple extra training days to prepare for Oregon State. I was glad to open at home against OSU, because last season I watched our team close the season at home against them, with a 4-1 loss. Our team is confident, and our confidence doesn't hinge on a single win or loss, so we just went out relaxed on Sunday and played our game. The weather was really nice, and it turned out to be a fun game for us as we finished with a 3-1 victory in front of a great home crowd!
And now this brings us to the present as we look forward to continuing Pac-10 play down in Southern Cal. School also starts this week which will bring a big change to the daily lives of the players. I am actually looking forward to school because it gives me the chance to meet more people, see friends that I haven't seen all summer, and it forces me to do something productive with my spare time. I think the team will adjust well because 6 weeks of soccer without school is enough, and change will be nice.
Our training and strategy in preparation for the weekend has a lot to do with the health of forward Ely Allen. If he is ready, then our team will stay close to the same, but if not we have to move guys around to different positions to adjust for his absence. But even with an altered line up we still put a strong team on the field. With the crazy results thus far in Pac-10 play, I am excited to see how our team holds up to this next test.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to freshman forward Daniel Phelps and freshman goalie Stephen Fung. Both of these guys are redshirting their first season to avoid burning a year with only limited playing minutes. But they are still at training every day, working hard to make all the guys around them better. It's not a glorified job and it can be hard sometimes, but they both have bright futures here as Huskies to look forward to. So watch for those names in the coming years!