Going into this season I knew our opening stretch would be a challenge. I knew with a young team it was a tough stretch to open up against strong conference opponents that would test our mental toughness just as much as they would test our skill set.
In these two loses we have learned a lot. We’ve seen how talented we are at times, but we haven’t put our best foot forward yet. The biggest thing we’re still learning is how quickly 60 minutes goes by. How hard it is to bounce back from a bad half or even a bad 10 minutes? For our younger players, they will soon realize how quickly a season flies by and, before you know it, your college career is over. Our seniors can surely attest to how “it was just yesterday that…”
The reality is there are no “do-overs.” No mulligans. Those losses are in the books. No one will look back and remember that we were up in both games. There’s no asterisk next to the record indicating our incredible comeback against San Diego State after playing flat for 30 minutes. There’s nothing in record books noting that our first half against UC Davis is the best we’ve played all year and the second half was an aberration.
We’ve certainly played well at times this year. We just haven’t been consistent. We have had mental lapses at critical moments. We’ve lost our focus for long stretches allowing teams to go on multiple goal runs. We’ve failed to be disciplined at the end of games, giving up critical free-positions and even suffering yellow cards at the least opportune times. The bad news is we’re making mistakes an inexperienced team makes. The good news is we’re gaining the experience we need to be a better team.
What is encouraging is that we are a far better team than we’ve showed on game day to this point. As I told the team today, we can’t go back. We can only go forward and learn from our play to this point. I know the sting of these two losses will be felt for a while, and I know that we’re eager to get back out on Wednesday against another opponent and compete.
We are in the process of learning how to be a championship caliber team. Championship teams know how to finish a team when they’re ahead. They know how to respond in adverse situations and how to keep their composure even when things don’t go exactly as planned. Championship caliber teams don’t panic in tight games, but they also know how to play with urgency. Urgency to change the momentum and urgency to get a goal when we need one. Championship caliber teams don’t take a game for granted, a half for granted or even a single possession. Championship caliber teams find a way. They refuse to lose.
While we may not be that team now in this very moment, we are learning how to be that team. We are certainly learning the hard way, but I’m confident we are learning. We have improved with every game this season and I know we aren’t satisfied. We are working hard to put together the 60 minutes we need to get back on track against a tough Siena team. Stay tuned Bear fans!