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Sept. 4, 2012

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Hi, everyone! We had an up-and-down weekend as we opened our home schedule against two very good West Coast teams. During the days leading up to the weekend we spent some time fine-tuning our formation and preparing for the tactics we would face. Generally we have a day or two of good, hard training sessions during the week, and an easy “walk-through” the day before a game.

On Friday we entertained a very good California team and were able to pull out a win. We knew they would be similar to the Georgetown team we faced last week – experienced and organized. We had long stretches of sustained possession and scored a delectable goal to pull ahead. The momentum shifted a bit as Cal evened the game with a decent goal of its own, but we withstood the charge well. Our game-winner came off of a set-piece as two of our first-years combined on a corner kick in the waning moments of the match.

After the game, we all jumped into the cold tank (ice bath) and put on our recovery tights to get ready for a competitive UCLA team on Sunday. We held a short session on Saturday, which involved light training for the reserves, and recovery and treatment for those who played. UCLA played at Maryland on Friday night, so both teams had a quick turnaround from the previous game. We knew that fatigue would play a role in the match on Sunday.

Fatigue is an interesting phenomenon that affects teams. It blows our minds to think about how we all played four or five game tournaments on weekends while growing up. Now we consider two games in three days to be a handful. The physicality and energy at the collegiate level, not to mention the caliber of play, is unlike anything we experienced in our younger days. It certainly requires some adjustment, and our first-year players have adapted admirably. Still, neither team was very fresh going into Sunday.

UCLA was a very good side, among the best we will see this year. They were very organized, passed and combined well, and had a few special players who were difference-makers. They returned much of their line-up from last season’s College Cup team, and their quality was apparent. We did well for spells of the game, asserting ourselves defensively and limiting their chances. In the attack, we created several opportunities and almost scored on a shot that hit the crossbar. The scoreless battle ended on a tough scramble and shot in front of the goal with less than a minute left in the first overtime period. Another sudden-death heartbreaker.

Going forward from here, we need to be better during overtime, as we have lost both of our overtime games. We will take a look at the film to see where we can improve this week as we move into our ACC schedule. With Monday off, we have three days to prepare for Duke, and we will be hungry to bounce back from a disappointing loss. Opening our home schedule this weekend was a treat because we love playing in front of our supporters. With school back in session, many students made it out to the games, and it was good to hear their loud voices again. We appreciate all of the support from the UVa and Charlottesville communities; we are little without our fans. Be sure to follow and connect with the team via Facebook and Twitter, and we will see you all at Klockner this Friday night as we look to upend the Blue Devils!

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