Blog: Tearing Down the Net w/ Tate McIntyre
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Hey everyone, welcome to my very last blog of the season. 

After putting together a string of four consecutive victories, this past week presented the chance for myself and the rest of the senior class to continue this great streak and end our careers on a high note. Our first challenge was to come on Thursday, when we would travel to Dallas, Texas to face a UTD team that has a tremendous amount of potential. This game was extra special to a number of our players who hail from the DFW area as it was one of the last times our families and friends would be able to see us play. Although this game was important to us for a number of reasons the weather was not cooperating at all, as extremely wet and windy conditions set in on the Metroplex just as we arrived in our bus from Shreveport. Since the soccer season lies in the fall, many of us had not played in this sort of weather since high-school and would take some time to warm up and get used to the slick surface.

We set out to the practice field to try and get the blood flowing and get used to the temperature. Although at first we were all bundled up in our sweats and any other warm clothes we had, the layers gradually began to come off in preparation for the game. We went through an extra thorough warm up and after about 45 minutes of running and stretching we were ready to take the field in search of our 12th win of the season. We began the game with a great deal of energy and threatened the UTD goal a number of times in the early minutes with the aid of a very strong wind at our backs. The UTD goalkeeper made a number of outstanding saves and was able to turn away every shot we faced him with in the first half. Although we were not able to score, the team looked lively and we kept UTD's scoring chances to a minimum and held them mostly to weak, long range attempts on goal. 

Halftime presented us with the challenge of staying warm after all of the activity of the first half; a task that wasn't the easiest considering the rain had soaked all of our warm clothes and the wind was stronger than it was at the start of the game. After a short team meeting we began to jog around again to loosen up for the second half. We took the field once again and the second half resumed. Just as the wind had been a huge advantage for us in the first half UTD began to utilize it in the second half, pumping ball after ball into our box in search of getting a lucky bounce and breaking open the scoreless tie. However, Robbie Ramirez was outstanding and dealt with every cross and shot that UTD could muster. Time became a factor, as we had created a few scoring chances against the wind but were unable to take advantage of them. Just as it seemed the game had hit a lull and was destined for overtime, we received a freekick just inside the UTD half of the field. In the days leading up to the UTD game, Coach Orr had implemented a new freekick play and this situation presented us with the perfect chance to use it. We all gathered together at the top of the box in an attempt to create confusion for the UTD defenders and Kyle Mehnert drove the ball directly into the huge scrum of players, the ball ricocheted right to Marcos Rodriguez who sent a bicycle kick cross in front of the UTD goal where Jihad Elaydi barreled in and sent a diving header over the UTD 'keeper for a 1-0 lead. As excited as we were to take the lead despite all of the adversity we had faced, there were still a few minutes left on the clock and we had to close out the game. We kept possession of the ball expertly and were able to waste the rest of the time, giving us our 12th win of the season and a very satisfying win in our second to last game of the season.

The bus ride back was a happy one even though many players were left without extra clothes to wear since we pretty much had everything soaked in warm-up and throughout the game. However, a three hour bus ride in wet clothes was well worth the hard-fought victory we had earned. Now, only the University of the Ozarks stood between Centenary Men's Soccer and a six-game win streak which would give us an impressive 13-3-1 record on the year.

Since we were to have an afternoon kickoff on Saturday, we departed Friday for Arkansas and would stay the night before our game. The trip had a different feel to it since it would be the last time we all traveled together, but the mood was one of celebration rather than one of nostalgia and we aimed to cap off the year with one last victory. After getting plenty of rest Friday night we ate breakfast at the hotel, returned to our rooms to gather up all of our things and headed to the Ozarks' campus for our final game of 2011. We were able to enjoy most of the Ladies' convincing victory over the Ozarks and afterwards we made the short walk over to the practice field to prepare. After a slightly extended warm-up due to the senior day festivities for the Ozarks players, we had our team prayer and speech and then jogged out onto the field for the last time together. 

Although we had a tremendous amount riding on this game for personal and team reasons, we faced a very feisty opponent who jumped on us from the start of the first half. Through the first 45 minutes, we failed to keep the ball and work together and the Ozarks repeatedly sliced through our defense, creating shots, corner kicks and dangerous crosses. We created only one or two legitimate attacking chances and were unable to score. If it weren't for Robbie Ramirez' heroic play in goal (as we have become accustomed to) we would have been blown out after only one half of play. As it was though, we were able to escape into halftime at 0-0. 

We truly enjoy playing with one another as a team, and everyone was quite frustrated at halftime that the last time this group would play together had been such a disaster up to that point. We made it known that in the second half, we would each play up to the standard we were capable of and go out to get this last win. There was a clear difference in our style of play in the second period, as we kept the ball almost the entire 45 minutes and created chance after chance from our extended possession. We were once again unable to take advantage of some golden scoring opportunities and the game remained 0-0. The last 15 minutes of the game became very physical as both teams searched for that elusive goal, and a number of players received cards. Late in the game, seemingly out of nowhere, Ben Barcelona sent a piercing ball up the field to R.B. Asenime, who had moved up to forward, and he calmly tapped the ball past the Ozarks' goalkeeper off the post and into the net. We gathered as a group near mid-field and tackled R.B., who has been a leader for us all year. Similarly to the game we that we played Thursday against UTD, despite how excited we were to take the lead there was still business to attend to in the form of closing out the game. In the remaining minutes, the Ozarks almost exclusively had possession of the ball but never really created a chance worthy of tying the game. The final whistle sounded and we had pulled out yet another close victory, our fifth shutout in a row.

The game was extremely ugly to watch I'm sure, but all we cared about was going out with a win. There were a number of positives that came from this season including the emergence of a number of young players that will benefit Centenary Men's Soccer for years to come and a number of tremendous team efforts that unofficially earned us the top spot in the ASC Conference. 

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this year. It was certainly different dealing with the challenges of being in a new conference and a new division, but we dealt with every bit of adversity we were presented with as a team. It has been a pleasure being able to provide you all with some insight into what goes on inside the locker room and on the field with Centenary Men's Soccer and I thank you for taking the time to read from week to week.