Tiger Blogs :: Maggie Leone
November 12, 2008
Last week, after winning back to back C-USA championships, the only team in University of Memphis history to do this, other than men's basketball, of course, we traveled to Mizzou to play Illinois in the first round of NCAA's. We knew it was supposed to be cold and rainy, but I don't think I was fully prepared for the weather. Being a southerner, I love the warm weather, and 35 degrees and rainy is not what I prefer. But, we went out and played out hearts out the entire game. The first half was not the best soccer that we had played, so we knew we would have to come out in the second half and give it all we had. After a 0-0 draw in regulation time, 0-0 in the first over time, we went into the second over time hoping for the best. We had dominated the entire second half as well as both overtime periods. Although Illinois barely out-shot us, we had more dangerous chances and believed we should have advanced to the second round. But, they got a counter attack and slipped one in. We lost 1-0 in double over time.
Looking back on my four years here at the University of Memphis, it was been an amazing experience. Being a collegiate student-athlete definitely comes with its ups and downs. I believe that the normal perception of a student athlete is that we just get to have fun playing our sport, we always are out of town, get to miss class, and get free stuff.... This is true. But this is only one very small percentage of being a student-athlete. I believe that in my case, I have been fortunate enough to endure both extreme ends of the spectrum.
My freshman year, I came in with 14 girls. We lost in the first round of the conference tournament. My second year, most girls had gone, for different reasons. We lost in the second round of the conference tournament. My junior year, now down to four, we won the conference tournament and broke tons of records (individually and as a team). We had made history that year. My senior year, we did what no other team had done before, other than men's basketball, and that was to repeat as C-USA champions. Not only the tournament, but regular season champions as well.
I guess I could say that winning was the highlight and most rewarding experience of my college career. However, it really was not a pretty road getting there. The four pre-seasons that I have survived, were so grueling that I really didn't think I would make it through. I can't tell you the countless number of turkey sandwiches I have eaten over my past four years here, or the number of spaghetti dishes I have forced down before a game. Believe me, I never want to eat pasta again. I have played in weather so hot that I didn't think my body would make it through the day and weather so cold I could barely lift my legs to make the sprint. I have had injuries that have made me sit out a day, a week, and even months. I have battle scars that put broken bones to show. I know what it's like to be benched for an entire game, and to play every minute of a game. When our friends were out on the weekends, we were at home watching sitcom re-runs and preparing for tomorrow's game. And I'm pretty sure that the guys that live behind Echles could tell you how many sprints we run in one practice, as we are the source of entertainment for 2 hours every Tuesday.
I guess what I'm trying to say is yes, there are perks of being a student-athlete. But yes, there are downfalls as well. My past four years here have been absolutely unbelievable. The blood, sweat, and tears that I put into this program, I wouldn't change it for the world. I have made awesome friends, pushed myself to the limit, made history and history again. So, for my 3 other seniors, Kylie, Kate, and Emi- thanks for sticking it out with me these past 4 years. You three are my best friends and we have been through it all... So, happy retirement, and let's go enjoy ourselves.
November 12, 2008
As conference tournament approached, we knew that we had a tough road ahead of us to win the tournament. But, that really didn't seem to phase us at all. As we took the 10 hour bus ride down to Houston, we were preparing ourselves for the week that stood in front of us and the amazing opportunity that we would face.
Just coming off a 2-1 win against UAB and then having to play them the first round of the tournament again, we knew that we couldn't perform less than our best if we wanted to advance. Fortunately, we showed up to play on Wednesday and came out with a 2-0 win over the Blazers.
The next day we got to relax, we got some crucial study hall hours in, and we went to the mall for a bit of shopping! Some of us, (Brittany Baldwin, Laura Laufenberg, Katie Sabet, Vendula Strnadova, Kelsey Bakker, and myself) went to the Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, along with players from Rice, Colorado College, UCF, and ECU to spend some time with the children there. It was such a great experience for everybody. Then, we went back to the hotel for some awesome Outback dinner!
On Friday, we knew that this could quite possible be our toughest game of the tournament because UCF beat us in the regular season in overtime. So, we knew that they would be confident and come out on their toes. However, I guess we had some sort of revenge to gain and won the semi's 2-0 over UCF.
We spent Saturday preparing for the finals and a chance to repeat as conference champions! We did a bit more shopping... or a lot more shopping at the Houston Galleria, and then, of course, some more study hall!!
Sunday was the day we were all waiting for. This was such a great opportunity to bring home another trophy, as well a chance at play in the NCAA tournament. We came out strong and kept the lead from 2-0 at half to a final of 4-1. We had amazing goals and we really did play as a team. As the final whistle blew, the celebration began with trophy's, awards, champion t-shirts, and pictures!
This past week was an amazing experience and I'm pretty confident I can speak on behalf of the girls when I say we are all extremely excited about our back to back conference win as well as our play in the NCAA tournament. Also, thank you to all the parents, friends, and fans who came out to support us!
As we returned home, we all went to Coach's house to watch the Selection Show on ESPN. We found out that this weekend we travel to Mizzou to play Illinois. Good Luck Ladies!!
October 15, 2008
Where do i even start? Last weekends, we knew that we had everything to gain. Coming off a split weekend between UTEP and Colorado College, we all knew that we had to perform to get the rankings that we need.
At UTEP, we crept away with a 2-1 win, one from Kylie off a cross and a PK from Lauf (Laura Laufenburg). but, no matter what the score, We won and that's what we were happy about. Then we headed off to Colorado. We couldn't get the ball in the back of the net, and lost 2-1. Even though we were all aggravated and pretty down, we went to Lauf's house for an awesome dinner and some cake for the birthday girl's (Emi Schwab, Elise "Snake"Kuhar-Pitters and yours truly.) Lauf's parents are awesome cooks and we had so much fun despite the loss earlier that day.
So...Last weekend, we knew that we would have to play really well against Houston and Rice in order to get two wins. After not playing our best against Houston, we were fortunate to come out with a 1-0 win.
On Sunday, we were pumped because the game against Rice was on CBS College Sports and we knew that we had to come out and play our game right. We had tons of energy and it carried out onto the field and we came out with a huge 1-0 win over Rice. Even though it was a low scoring weekend, we were excited about the outcomes and are looking forward to this weekend when we travel to SMU and Tulsa.
September 30, 2008
Friday night we all came out fired up for the start of Conference play. Especially for the returning players, we all know how competitive and tough our conference play is. Every game is crucial and last weekend we couldn't be more excited to start our new season.
We came out strong against Southern Miss, but winning didn't come easily. It was a hard fought game but we came out with a 2-0 win!! After the game, we were all fortunate enough to meet some of our alumni that had come in for the weekend. They were all really excited to see how far the program had come and it was really cool to see what they were all doing now after their collegiate career was finished. We even got some awesome Garibaldi's after the game-thanks to our awesome soccer mom's!
Saturday's practice was focused totally on our upcoming game, against UCF. Sunday, we went up 1 nil within 2 minutes with an awesome goal from Kylie. We totally dominated in the first half but kind of lost our intensity in the second half. UCF came back and scored, which forced the game into overtime. Within the first 10 minute overtime, UCF scored giving them the overtime win 2-1.
To be completely honest we were not at all happy with the outcome of the game, because we believe that we should have won the game. But, what we learned was that we have to come out in the second half the same way we did in the first. It was a tough lesson, but who knows, maybe it will be a reoccurrence of last year.
We are staying positive and looking forward to our upcoming weekend against two more conference teams, UTEP and Colorado College. Wish us luck, we gotta get these next two...
September 3, 2008
Coming off a weekend with a 1-1 draw against Alabama, we had to keep our heads up. We knew we played a better game to result in a 1-1 draw but we now know what we need to do to prepare for our upcoming weekend against Ole Miss and Miami.
We have been focusing on our defensive shape and solid formation in the back. We have been focusing on our runs and checks at the top, and working together to play as a unit in the middle. The main thing we need to do is finish our chances, and put the ball in the back of the net.
We are still dealing with some old injuries as well as some new ones, but for the most part, we should have a healthy line up for this weekend's games. We are all really excited about another chance to play our biggest out of conference rival, Ole Miss, as well as looking forward to competing against Miami on Sunday at home.
August 19, 2008
Well, we are back to work this week at practice after our two preseason games last week against Notre Dame and Western Kentucky. As a team, we felt like we did not play up to our potential against Western Kentucky, but we have been working to clean up our formations and individual positions all week.
We are becoming a closer team on and off the field as we are getting a better with understanding of our positions, options, runs, and checks.
We are all excited about our inter-squad scrimmage tonight out at Mike Rose. Hopefully this will prepare us as much as possible for our game on Friday against UALR. We have all worked very hard this week on the technical and tactical part of the game, so we all have high hopes that our dedication will pay off this weekend. Good luck ladies!
August 18, 2008
Everyone returned to Memphis from summer break with tons of stories from back home and their holiday travels. It was nice to meet all of the new freshmen and get to know them before pre season actually started.
On Wednesday, of course at 6 am (no time to waste) we got started, and the freshmen got their first taste of the delightful pre season they have heard so much about. We had our juggling test first, which was nice because it relieved some of the nerves that we had for the first fitness test that we were about to face. Then, the seniors and juniors stepped up to the plate first to start the party off right with the physically and emotionally draining Sebco test, followed by the underclassmen. Coach was very happy (or at least that's what he told us) with the results of the morning training session. Later that night, we played 11 aside, so the coaching staff could see what kind of crazy team they were working with and the potential of the entire team.
The next couple of days, we were faced with fitness tests, grueling training sessions, and even came across some minor injuries. However, with the awesome training staff we have, we are all on the way to a strong, healthy team.
We left Monday afternoon after our morning training session to travel to Notre Dame, home of the Fighting Irish, and of course, Rudy! We got in pretty late, but most of us took advantage of the long bus ride and slept as much as possible. Before the game, we learned that Notre Dame is ranked #4, but it didn't seem to put any pressure on us at all. We were all really calm and relaxed. We came out strong and had an early chance, but couldn't find the back of the net. Notre Dame snuck one in before half time, leaving the score board 1 nil at half. Even though we were down a goal, the emotions in the locker room were really positive from everyone.
The second half was a little more entertaining: We went down 2-0 but we quickly responded with a goal! Ashley Berra took the ball to the endline and crossed it, or maybe it was a shot, who cares it went in right?! The keeper couldn't keep her hands on the shot and it hit the back of the net. The final score was 3-1. We were all disappointed in the score because it really didn't reflect the way that we played. We went out strong and finished strong, we had good chances, but we just couldn't find the back of the net. However, the coaching staff was happy with our performance, and we are going to take the positives and negatives of this game into our game tomorrow against Western Kentucky.