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Sept. 22, 2008

Captains’ Blog

Every Monday during the 2008 women’s soccer season, one of the three team captains will visit 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.

2178897.jpegDanila Monteiro 2155939.jpegBlakely Mattern 2155944.jpegKim Miller

September 22, 2008 – Blakely Mattern

Our team started this week very excited and with even more confidence and chemistry within our team. Coming off last weekend’s results from the tournament at Auburn, we all saw what we are capable of doing this season when we play to our potential and together as a team. The game last Sunday against Florida State was hot and long as we went into double overtime, but the difference in this year’s team is that we all play for each other and support each other no matter who is on the field or how many minutes we play. Everyone contributed last Sunday, and having teammates on the bench who stand up the whole game and are cheering every minute pushes those on the field to give it their all, and that was the difference for us last weekend.

That said, our team came into Tuesday’s practice feeling good and ready to carry that momentum from last weekend and build to get ready for Friday night. Tuesday is our hard practice of the week, where we usually run a bit more and really get better on the things we weren’t our best at in the last games. The defense concentrated on specifics, like staying tight together and recovery runs, which are crucial to our goal of a shutout. The offense then worked on finishing under pressure, which is always something we can continue to work on. We finally came together and worked on 1v1, and then we did some team sprints to end practice. Although it was a tough, physically demanding practice, it was important things that we needed to concentrate on in order to get better for our next games.

On Wednesday and Thursday our practices were not as difficult physically, however we were working hard to prepare mentally for our game on Friday. Coaches always do a great job getting us ready for our games and particular opponents.

Then it was GAMEDAY!!!! Our team was excited to be back at the Graveyard and in front of our fans playing under the lights on our field. We were definitely ready to go at kickoff. We started strong and we were all over the goal from the beginning. Roomie (Danila Monteiro) scored a great goal within the first ten minutes to get us going. It was an awesome ball through the defense by Brooke Jacobs. As a defender, it is always nice when we score early. It relaxes the defense so we can kind of settle in and play. A few minutes later Smallsy (Lindsay Small) put us up by two goals with a great finish from inside the box after Kayla Grimsley played the ball back and across the six-yard box. Soon after, Smalls returned the favor by playing a beautiful ball through the whole tam and in behind right into the stride of Kayla who placed the ball right passed the keeper into the net. Then right before the first half ended Brittiny Rhoades took a great corner that came right into the center of the box and I headed it into the goal. I was so happy to finally score on a set piece for my first goal of the season. Britt does a great job getting the corners into a dangerous area and we finally connected for a goal.

Our team played great for the rest of the game. The four-goal lead allowed us to get everyone a chance to play some minutes in the second half. It was awesome to see all of the girls out there working hard and showing the great depth of our team. I was excited too for Roya (Mojarab) to see a couple minutes at the end of the game. She did a great job in there, including her slide tackle to win the ball outside the box even though that play scared Brittiny and I to death. Anyways, I was so happy that all the girls got a chance to play and they all did extremely well.

The next day we met for a short practice in the morning. We went through a couple adjustments from Friday night and a little preparation for our Sunday game. After practice, we had a couple hours to get packed and ready to travel to North Carolina. We met and left around 3 p.m. that afternoon. We stopped and had a really good dinner at Outback on the way and got to Cullowhee around 8:30 Saturday night.

Sunday’s game was against Western Carolina and when we got to the field everyone seemed excited and ready to go. It was a tough game from the start. The team was very physical and was kicking us from behind and grabbing us every time we got the ball. Early in the game, Dani went down with an injury to her knee and could not return to play for us. We fought hard throughout the game, but unfortunately, we gave up a cheap goal in the second half and could not score during the remaining minutes. It was a frustrating game and a disappointing result after such a great tournament the weekend before. Our team will learn from our mistakes in the game and build this week at practice to get ready for the start of conference play next weekend.

The SEC is an extremely tough conference where every game is important. That is why it is crucial that we prepare this week and come out ready to play on Friday night. I know how strong our team is and I have no doubt that we will bounce back and build for our games this weekend.

I want to say thank you again to all the fans and people who support our team. We hope to see everyone on Friday night when the Tennessee Vols come to town and we look to start off conference play with a victory.