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Tiger Blog Entry Four: Robert Sausaman

Hey everyone, I wanted to write one more entry before the season is too far in the rear view mirror. Usually Shawn, who has done a wonderful job for us this year, asks me to write a blog for a particular game or road trip. However, on this occasion it was me asking him if he would post one last blog. I wanted to put some of my feelings out while they are still fresh in my mind and say thank you to my teammates, coaches, and other that have helped me along the way.

First of all, it was a difficult season for us, being somewhat of a roller coaster ride. We had some amazing highs and some disappointing lows but no matter how high or low things got, we stayed together as a team and put 100% effort into every game. Even though we failed to accomplish some of our goals this season, it will always hold a special place in my heart. Sometimes, for whatever reason things just don't go your way no matter how hard you try but it is how you respond to those situations that shows your true character. Our team responded to the adversity we faced by becoming closer and more tight knit the worse things got and by the end of the season we were as close a group as I have ever been a part of.

Next, I would like to take a minute to thank my teammates for helping me make the most out of my four-year playing soccer for the University of Memphis. To my fellow seniors, the last four years have been the best times of my life. I'm going to miss the pre-game meals at McAllister's, the road trips, the 6:00am practices in the spring working with Josh, pushing sleds, and running 18/42's to failure, and the grueling two-a-days during captains practice. We have developed friendships that will last long after we leave Memphis. Thank you for all the memories and experiences, I look forward to enjoying the spring with you guys as a regular college student. Moving on, I would also like to thank the sophomore and junior classes for their contribution to the team. I have enjoyed being on the team with all of you the last few years and hope that you can continue to work hard and lead the team on to bigger and better things in the future. Lastly, I want to say a few words about the freshman class whom, in my opinion, are the most talented class that have come through the program in my time. After getting to know the character and talent of these freshman I have to say that the future of Memphis soccer is very bright. So continue to work hard and remember the experiences you have gained this season and use them to benefit you in the seasons to come.

Finally, I would like to thank the coaching staff for all they have done for me as an individual and for our team as a whole. I would like to start by thanking Robbie Nicholson who was the assistant coach for my first two years; he is an amazing person as well as exceptional coach. Robbie taught me things about health, nutrition, fitness, training, and recovery that have changed my life. In addition, he pushed me further than I thought I could ever go and helped me get the most out of myself. For that I cannot thank him enough. I would also like to thank Remco de Jong for sharing his knowledge with the team when we needed it and for being there to offer me advise when I was going through some rough times. Remco has also done wonders for our goalkeepers in the past four years by helping them become some of the best in Conference USA. In addition, I would like to thank Nick Glazer, who took over as an assistant coach my junior year and has been a great asset for us. Nick was a player at Memphis not too long ago so he has the ability to relate well to the players. I always felt comfortable talking to him about things that I was dealing with on and off the field or asking him any questions I had. For that I am truly appreciative. As for the newest addition to the coaching staff, I have to say that assistant coach Mat Santoro has left his mark amongst the players. Mat has a great personality and is a person that we can talk to about anything, whether it is soccer-related or not. He has a wealth of knowledge about the game and offers an attacking minded coaching style that is a nice complement to the more defensive style of Coach Grant. Mat had a huge impact on my season. When I was experiencing a dip in form, he took it upon himself to pull me aside and work with me and I feel that because of him I was able to turn my season around. Thank you Mat, the team is lucky to have you as a coach. Last but certainly not least, I owe more to Coach Grant than he will ever know. If it were not for him, I would not be at Memphis and would not have had to opportunity to play college soccer at the highest level in addition to playing in one of the best conferences in the country. He has taught me many things that have helped me grow tremendously as both a person and a player. Any time I needed to talk to him about anything, watch game film, or get extra work he was enthusiastic to help. He is a passionate coach that has a great perspective on the game and does a phenomenal job teaching his players. The greatest thing I can say about Coach Grant is that he truly loves this game. He lives and breathes soccer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and cannot get enough, and that is something that is hard to find. Thank you coach, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate everything you have taught me and have done for me.

Once again, I would like to thank all my coaches and teammate for everything they have done for me over the last four years. It has been a great ride for me and I have never had a moment of regret about my decision to play at Memphis. Unfortunately, all great things must come to an end, but this is simply the end of one chapter of my life and the beginning of another. This is the case for all us seniors. I want to wish the team the best of luck moving forward and also tell the fans that they have a lot to look forward to for next year. This is a great group of player, but an even better group of people. Shawn, thank you for asking me to do this blog, at first I was not sure about it but now am glad I decided to do it. Now, I couldn't finish my last blog without thanking some of the people who have made sacrifices and helped get me here to Memphis in addition to helping mold me into the person I have become (excluding those mentioned above): Mom, Dad, Kent, Uncle Greg, Aunt Donna, Uncle Dave, Peter, Nancy, David, and Bobby Iafrate, Gene, Tammy, and Geno Shintock, Basil Benjamin, Kelley Childers, Ron Messick, Steve Peet, John Clare, Bruce Teague, and Josh Medler. Thank you all for everything you have done for me, I will never forget it.

-Robert Sausaman

Tiger Blog Entry Three: Robert Sausaman

It was an emotional weekend for myself and the rest of the seniors as we fell 2-1 to Marshall in what was in all likelihood the final home game of our Memphis careers. The weekend began on Friday night with the annual Tommy Smith banquet, which was held at south campus, which recognizes a member of the men's soccer team for performance in the classroom as well as being an outstanding member of the team. This years recipient, Thomas Hyland "Hylo", was well deserving. In addition to recognizing a member of the team with the Tommy Smith award, the coaching staff takes advantage of the evening to recognize the seniors.

As for myself, emotions were high on the night thinking back about all the memories, both good and bad from the past 3 1/2 years. As the coaches began to recognize the seniors I was fighting to hold back my tears. I have been known to be an emotional person in situations such as these. Sean was the first senior to be recognized, followed by Tripp, Hylo, Jordan, Scoby, and then me. After coach Grant finished up his description of me I was overwhelmed with emotion and the only thing that kept me from losing it was knowing that I had to give a speech. It was a strange night for the seniors, the feelings that we were experiencing. Coming to the realization that this chapter of our lives is coming to a close. All in all it was a great night, I will remember this night for the rest of my life, it will always be a special memory for us.

Saturday night it was time to get to business as we went up against a scrappy blue collar marshall squad. We were pumped up and ready to go, us seniors had no intention of losing our final home game. The locker room was relaxed, the warm-up was sharp, the team was focus and ready to play. As we lined up on the field for the announcement of the line ups and the national anthem, I took it all in. The field, my teammates, the score board, and the star spangled banner. As the song ended and we came together for the huddle, you could feel the focus and the love amongst each other. It was a feeling that we were all ready to go into a battle together and were prepared to fight and scrap for each other and do whatever was necessary to get a result. The game kicked off and as usual there was not much of a flow to the game in the opening five minutes. Then, off a harmless free kick from around mid-field, they drove the ball into our box and managed to get to the ball first. Their player flicked it toward our goal and it deflected off of one of our players and into the goal.

Despite going down a goal, our spirits remained high. The feeling in the team was that we were going to overcome this deficit and win the game. The remainder of the first half was back and forth but there were not other goals scored. The attitude in the locker room was positive and coming into the second half we made a few adjustments and knew we had plenty of time to get ourselves level. Marshall came out in the second half looking to hold on to their 1-0 lead. We pushed forward for the opening 15 minutes and were unable to tally a goal. Marshall took advantage of our inability to capitalize as they found a second goal about 18 minutes into the half. For the rest of the game we looked dangerous as we had multiple opportunities to score but could only manage to get one back off a header from Brad Jacobs.

When the official blew the whistle to signal the end of the match and the end of the seniors home careers, it hit me immediately. I dropped to the ground and my eyes filled with tears. I couldn't hold my emotions back despite my best efforts. I thought that we would never play on this field again, in front of our fans. I was comforted by my teamates as we prepared to begin the ceremony to honor the seniors. The six seniors were joined on the field by their families. One by one we were announced and walked out onto the field to shake the coaches hands. I was the last to go and as I started to walk I lost it. I could barely keep my head up as I passed my teammates and was greeted by the coaches. Then, as I hugged my fellow seniors and their families which I have gotten to know so well, the feeling really hit home for me. It was a special night, one the seniors will never forget. Even though we lost, we put everything we had into the game. We played with energy and passion and we left everything we had on the field. Unfortunately on the night I wasn't enough. In closing, I want to thank all the fan for their support over my time here, they make the atmosphere at Mike Rose a great one to play in and I am priviledged to have had the opportunity to do so for four years.


Tiger Blog Entry Two: Robert Sausaman

9/15/08

Following a disappointing weekend in Vermont, we were determined to get back to work this week at practice. We worked very hard on tuesday and wednesday turning in two strong training sessions before easing off on thursday ahead of our game on friday afternoon. Thursday we had a lighter sesson focusing on tactics and set pieces, it only lasted about an hour. After training we headed back to the locker room to packed up our stuff and headed for Birmingham. The bus ride, as usual begins with everyone trading stories about their days and having a few laughs. Then as we settle in to our journey the team begins to quiet down, some players such as my self crack the books, while other listen to their ipods and watch movies. Halfway into the trip we stopped for dinner which gives us a chance to stretch our legs and more importantly fill our stomachs. The bus ride after dinner is always the same, everyone sleeps. I don't know what it is but there must be something about a full stomach that makes it easy to sleep. So as we are pulling up to the hotel, everyone begins to wake up. As we get off the bus, we grab our bags and head into the hotel lobby and wait for the coaches to give us our roommates and keys. Following this process, the coaches gave us the schedule for the morning. Finally, after the long day of class and the bus ride, it is usually straight to bed.

On Friday we got to sleep in a little bit before having to make our way to breakfast, which is always appreciated by the team. After breakfast we loaded onto the bus and headed to the field to take a look at the playing surface and strech. Next, we headed back to the hotel for study hall. We put in a solid hour of studying before heading to lunch. Following lunch we got about an hour to ourselves before having to suit up and head to the team meeting to go over the final tactic ahead of the game and then its off to the field. Our opponent on this day was Western Illinois. We started off good, generating four good scoring opportunities in the openning 20 minutes. Then against the run of play, on their only shot of the half, they found the back of the net. The game remained 1-0 at the half. In the second half, we continued to have the better of possession and scoring opportunities but were unable to find the net. We ended up with a dissappointing 1-0 loss. After the game we headed back to the hotel for dinner and to get cleaned up before traveling back to the field to watch the second game of the tournament.

On Saturday, we were again given the luxury of sleeping in a little before have to report to breakfast. After what was a lite breakfast, we changed, loaded the bus, and headed to training. At training we took a lot of time to loosen up and stretch and then worked some possession and tactics before ending with a finishing drill. After training we had the rest of the day to relax, many of the player took advantage of the time to watch college football and do some school work, while others, who's families had made the trip got to spend the day with them. My parents were in town so I spent the afternoon with them, before allowing them to treat me to a gourmet meal at their expense. Those who remained at the hotel went to a local italian place for dinner and then quickly headed back to the hotel to catch the USC - Ohio St. game. Sunday morning we were up early due to the 11:30 a.m. kick off. We ate breakfast, picked up our uniforms, packed up our stuff, had a team meeting, loaded up the bus and headed to the game. So we didn't have a lot of time. The spirit of the team was high going into the game, we were determined to come away with a result. The warm up was sharp and everyone was focused. Unfortunately, our opponents, Cal-Irvine was able to pop in an early goal, which made our task more difficult. However, we were able to level the score ten minutes later thanks to a good cross for the right flank by Thomas Shannon and great finish by Brian Farrell. Following the goal we had new life and jumped on our opponents for the next five minutes but were unable to find another goal. Then, with about ten minutes to go in the half they were able to tally a second goal after working a give and go down the right side before lacing a shot into the top left corner. The game went into half 2-1. In the second half we came out with good intensity and went in search of the equalizer. However, despite our best efforts we were unable to level the score. Cal-Irvine was able to score a third about ten minutes into the half and we were unable to generate another goal, resulting in a very disappointing loss.

The bus ride back to Memphis was quiet, as it usually is following a loss. Everyone is disappointed and upset. The team has a lot of different emotions following losses and they always culminate in a silient trip home. We have a full week ahead of our next game, which is our first conference game and we are determined to get off on the right foot in conference play. We are going to get back to work this week to get ready for next weekend.


Tiger Blog Entry One: Robert Sausaman

8/25/2008
After a week and a half of captains practice followed immediately by another two weeks of preseason, it all came to a conclusion with a trip to St. Louis this weekend to take on the Bilikens. The coaches began to ease off at practice following the blue and grey game on tuesday night so we could be fresh for the Saint Louis game, with most of the practice time being spent on team shape and attacking and defending set pieces.

On Friday morning we had a light training session that consisted of a lot of jogging and streching to loosen ourselves up ahead of the five hour bus ride that lay ahead. We arrived in St. Louis on Friday evening at about 6:30 and had an hour and a half to relax in our rooms before heading to dinner at 8:00 p.m. We ate at an elegent italian place that was within walking distance of the hotel. The meal was the typical for a night prior to a game, chicken, pasta, salad, and bread. Following dinner we found a vacant area in the hotel parking lot and had a team stretch to loosen up after the long bus ride.

Saturday morning we got to sleep in a little, not having to be at breakfast until 9:00 a.m. Following breakfast, the team loaded onto the bus and headed to Robert H. Hermann Stadium, the Bilikens home field. This is a game day ritual, heading to the game field to get familiar with it and stretch. Following our visit to the field, since we were already in downtown St. Louis we took the opportunity to visit the Gateway to the Midwest, the Arch. The team took a couple of photos with the Arch in the back ground and took time to take in the sites. After the Arch we headed back to the hotel to rest before our pregame meal, which was at the same place where we ate the night before.

After the meal we headed to the field to get ready for the game. We had to postpone warm ups for 20 minutes due to weather however the storm quickly passed and the game kicked off only slightly off schedule. We started the game a little slow and got put on our heals early, however thanks to so big saves from Mike Goodlett and solid defending we kept them off the score board in the first half. We settled into the game a little more in the second half but still had trouble establishing possession. They managed a goal midway through the second half and their defense held tight for the remainder of the game. They got a second goal as time expired due to us sending players forward in search of the equalizer.

After the game the team was a little disappointed with our performance because it was not our best. Now, we look to learn from the game what we can and use it to help us become a better team as we move toward the season opener on Friday night against Bradley at Mike Rose Soccer Complex at 7:00pm

 

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