Sept. 1, 2008
Every Monday during the 2008 women’s soccer season, one of the three team captains will visit GamecocksOnline.com to give an inside look into what it is like to be a South Carolina women’s soccer student-athlete. Bookmark the Captains’ Blog and check back frequently for the stories told by senior Danila Monteiro and juniors Blakely Mattern and Kim Miller.
September 1, 2008 – Blakely Mattern
I would like to first reiterate what both Dani and Kim have said the past two weeks in their blogs by saying thank you to everyone who is involved in and supports the women’s soccer program here at South Carolina. Playing here at this university is a dream come true for me and I am so honored to represent this school and this team. As a junior, with half my college career already behind me, I can definitely say that these four years go by so quickly. I will never forget the day I walked into the locker room as a freshman for the first time and saw all these shirts, shorts and new shoes sitting in a locker with my name on it. It was like Christmas in August, and that was the moment it hit me that from that point on I was a Division I athlete and wearing these clothes meant something more.
It has been an awesome two years since that first day in the locker room. This past spring I was fortunate enough to get voted upon by my teammates as one of the captains of our team, along with Kim and Dani. Being captain is big role and a lot of hard work, but every minute of it is worth it because I know I am serving this great group of girls and doing my best to help the team achieve our goals. It is great to work along side both Kim and Dani as captains. We each have such distinct personalities, which I think allows the team to connect with us so well. The three of us also have a lot of trust in each other and communicate well together which shows both on and off the field.
Season is finally underway!! After out first game on Saturday we finally got into somewhat of a rhythm with practice this week. We had the day off on Sunday since it was the day after a game, but got right back to work on Monday with practice in the afternoon. Practice did end a little earlier than normal because of lighting in the area and we had to run up to the field house from the practice field. That run is probably the worst run ever! By the time we finally reach the “bubble” as we call it, our calves are on fire so much that we can barely walk.
We continued practices on Tuesday and Wednesday. Despite the bad weather predictions, both days the rain held off until after practice was over. On Tuesday we were walking out to the stadium for practice and saw that the grounds crew had painted our field in preparation for Thursday’s game. The big “C” with the gamecock looked amazing in the middle of the field and got all of us even more pumped and excited for our first home game of the season. Then on Wednesday we had a film session prior to practice. Watching yourself in action on video is always a good way to see what you did wrong and fix mistakes as well as see the things you did correctly. Coaches do a great job of getting specific clips from the last game together and show us particular plays and areas which we can improve.
Finally it was Thursday!!!! GAMEDAY!!!! It was our first home game of the season and the team could not have been more psyched to return to “The Graveyard.” I speak for all the returners in saying that we all have a lot of pride when we’re playing at home and expect to win here. And for the freshman, it was exciting to finally play a real game at our stadium after years of watching games as a recruit. The game was a lot of fun. We played well in our first home match, passing with each other and creating a lot of chances to score. Unfortunately, we didn’t collect a goal in the run of play but Sammi put us on top with a PK in the first half. We hung on to the lead and won 1-0. Coaches say and we believe that one of our goals this season is to get better each game and I think we did that in this game. We got our first win of the season, which is awesome, and also did a lot of things better that we had worked on all week in practice.
After some frigid ice baths, it was on to the first football game of the season. All the sports teams were going to be recognized at halftime on the football field, so our team quickly got ready and got over to the game just before halftime, wearing our khaki shorts and nice, new Under Armour polos. Halftime was awesome! We walked out behind our Women’s Soccer banner into the exact center of the field and gave a big wave when our sport was called. It is nice that the university recognizes all their other sports teams along with football. This school has so many talented student-athletes, and I think it is important that they all get noticed for their hard work. Afterwards, some of us hung around to watch some more of the game as our boys beat NC State 34-0!
Friday and Saturday we continued practicing but both were pretty moderate since we were recovering from our game Thursday and preparing for our second match of the weekend on Sunday night! In preparation we also had a walk through practice Sunday morning and then a pre-game lunch together right after.
After a long afternoon of resting and drinking lots of water, it was game time! And this was our first home night game of the season!! It is always exciting when we get to play under the lights at our stadium and tonight was our first time. We would face a tough opponent in Boston University though. We knew that this was going to be a tougher test, but our team rose to the challenge. We came out firing in the game and had multiple chances to score in the first twenty minutes. The game kind of settled down after that and was back and forth for a while. In the second half, we started strong as well. After ten minutes or so, Smallsy scored a great goal, which was the first goal of her career. It was a total team effort. Miller played a great ball into the box which Shannon challenged for and caused a knock down. Smallsy was right there and finished with a beautiful shot to the near post. This was our team’s first goal this season in the run of play and we were pumped. That goal propelled us through the rest of the game and we fought hard for the last thirty minutes, including through a torrential downpour for the last twenty. That was a great win for our team and I think one that will bring us even closer together!
Now after a day off Monday, we start preparing this week and focusing for our big rivalry game Friday night when Clemson comes to town. I know the team is all ready excited and pumped up to play them and for sure will be ready to go Friday night!
Thanks again to everyone, especially all you fans that come out to watch and support us…you guys are awesome and we love you!