Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Inside the 2013 Davidson Men's Soccer Season with Coleman O'Neill

Inside the 2013 Davidson Men's Soccer Season with Coleman O'Neill: Edition 3

On Boston and the Undefeated Start

Hello again Davidson Nation! In the past week we’ve been to Boston, Farmville, and Alumni Stadium, and we have extended our win streak to four in a row. Oh boy, winning feels good.

Members of the Davidson men's
soccer team on the roof of the
DoubleTree Hotel in Boston.
Most recently, we played Campbell at home and were away at Longwood. The Campbell game was an entertaining 3-2 affair. We tied the game twice after being down 1-0 and 2-1, and were able to get the game-winner off of the tricky feet of Valeriy. Next, we traveled to Longwood. We enjoyed their awesome stadium and facilities. Our game-winner came off the head of Alec, whose “slam dunk” header inspired the return of his deft somersault celebration. After the game, we were humbled to meet and hear from Rob Ukrop ’93.

Our trip to Boston was phenomenal. Although it was a quick trip, we were able to get a brief taste of the city and Harvard’s athletic side of campus during our stay. Most importantly, we got to celebrate the homecoming of Westford, Massachusetts native, Chris Pettiglio. After stuffing ourselves on pasta at Al Dente in Boston’s Little Italy, followed by a pregame practice, the Pettiglios hosted the team and visiting family for dinner. We found ourselves amongst more great food and even better company. The warm reception we received at the Pettiglios added to the image of Davidson Soccer as a family, an image I have seen prevail through my three years on the team. At the end of a great weekend consisting of warm DoubleTree cookies, a view of Harvard’s archaic football stadium, and a gutsy win over our tough Ivy League opponent, the most rewarding moment came in the reception given to us by family, friends, and alumni at the game. Even though we were in New England, we were at home.

As we approach the start of SoCon play, we are collectively focusing on taking each game one at a time. We don’t dwell too long on what we have done, and we don’t speculate too far ahead on where we could be. Instead, we get the most out of every moment on and off the field, with the confidence in knowing that no matter where we are or what the score is, We Can’t Stop, We Won’t Stop.

Until next time,



Inside the 2013 Davidson Men's Soccer Season with Coleman O'Neill: Edition 2
Welcome back Wildcat soccer fans! With the completion of preseason last weekend, Men’s Soccer regrouped and got ready for the start of the regular season and the beginning of a new school year. Fortunately, we were accustomed to waking up early for preseason morning practice, so the 8:30 class on Monday morning wasn’t too hard to get to (though Matt Pacifici may disagree, as his “zombie walk” could only have been more complete if he was wearing last night’s pajamas and holding his teddy bear).

Our first game – and home opener- was against a relatively new opponent, Navy. The excitement was building all throughout the week, as we looked to act upon lessons learned from our last preseason game against a strong Charlotte side. Along with making sure there were fewer gaps in our team defense, the emphasis this week was also on attacking as a group, with more fluidity and constant movement off the ball.

The game versus Navy was very exciting. The vibrant crowd inspired us to get the game-tying goal, on a rip from outside the box off the left foot of Jake Keator. Though we preferred the tie to a loss, we were still not satisfied with our performance in the season opener. We would need to be better in our match just two days later against Marshall.

Our fall schedule typically sets us up to play a game every fourth or fifth day. As a result, the second game in a three-day stretch is always intriguing. The game versus Marshall was no exception. First, we endured a lightning delay before the game, setting back the kickoff time by more than an hour. A delay like this can be tricky to overcome. Mentally, guys are gradually preparing themselves for peak performance, using the time in the locker room to both motivate themselves for battle and to stay focused on their game and positional goals. However, after hearing news of a lightning delay, we don’t know exactly when we are going to get on the field. Amidst the rises and dips of energy levels in the locker room during this period, guys also start to get antsy from being in a tight locker room with 24 other players taking up space. In order to stay mentally and physically loose, we did light activities such as arm wrestling and a synchronized dance, which quickly turned into a salsa lesson led by the fancy feet and rhythmic hips of Kristian Garciam√©ndez-Rowold.

Once the lightning had cleared, we ran onto the field and quickly showed that we were more awake than our opponents, as we built a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game. We maintained our two-goal lead through the remainder of the match and celebrated our first win of the 2013 season. Despite our victory, coaches and players still stressed the need for improving our quality on the ball and developing our “killer instinct” on the field. This could involve putting teams away with a stifling defensive tackle or, perhaps more effectively, with a clinical finish on goal. This team, and especially the seven seniors, is beginning to fully grasp the need to seize and take advantage of every opportunity this season. Soccer is unique in how the most talented team does not always win. We will have success this year as we continue to fight for, and ultimately win, each and every moment.

For now, we are off to Boston. Until next time…




Inside the 2013 Davidson Men's Soccer Season with Coleman O'Neill: Edition 1

Greetings Wildcat supporters! My name is Coleman O’Neill and I’m heading into my senior season with the Davidson Men’s Soccer team. I’m happy to report that this team, this brotherhood, is carrying some very positive vibes. We all have high hopes and aspirations for our final season playing in the Southern Conference.

Before the official preseason began with meetings on August 13th, the players gathered several days earlier for Captains’ Practices, or “pre-preseason”. During this period, we stayed at a rental house in Lake Norman State Park. Pre-preseason is important for us in two ways. First, it allows the players to train together before we start with the coaches, so we are both physically and mentally ready to play our best once official preseason begins. In
Members of the 2013 Davidson men's
soccer team enjoying a preseason meal.

addition, we build strong relationships off the field. This is particularly important for our team dynamic, as the upperclassmen become familiar with the incoming freshmen, and vice versa. At the house, we all ate together, played lots of board games and card games, and watched scary movies. Alan Reiter and John Pace won the award for best theatrics after the scary movies. 

After five days of training at the practice fields, running fitness tests, and losing to Valeriy Sviderskiy in numerous games of “kemps”, we moved into our dorms on campus and Preseason Phase #1 began. Before hitting the practice field, the coaches gathered us to discuss our team’s principles of play, as well as our theme for this year: Brotherhood. Our discussion of this theme set the tone for our goals this season. We furthered this mindset later on when we met with school psychologist Dr. John Brunelle. Ultimately, we established a mutual agreement: this team’s success on the field would go hand in hand with the brotherhood we will continue to form in the pursuit of success in the Southern Conference this season.

We had three full days of training before our opening preseason match against UNC Asheville. For each preseason practice, the seniors decided upon a word to keep in our minds throughout the day. “Energy” was chosen for the first day, “Creativity” for the second, and “Consistency” for the third. The aim was to exude an energetic presence in establishing team defense, to play creatively in attack, and to consistently perform at a high level heading into our first preseason game.

In our 2-2 opening draw against UNC Asheville, we enjoyed much of the possession and controlled the field position, as the ball was kept in our opponent’s half for a majority of the game. Big ups to freshman Max “Nelly” Pragnell for coming in and scoring two big time goals. He also earned other nicknames based on the way he “scoots” around the opposing defenders. Despite holding our opponent to few shots on our goal, Asheville was able to capitalize on two of our defensive lapses, matching our two goals. The goals conceded were very fixable mistakes, as our defense was very strong throughout the contest.

The intensity during Preseason Phase #2 continues to be high as we gear up for an exciting challenge against nationally ranked UNC Charlotte this weekend. Although it’s labeled a preseason game, we are thrilled for the challenge of beating a great team and cross-town rival. Personally, I am doing everything I can to recover from a concussion I suffered late last Spring. Although I cannot yet participate fully with the team, I am enjoying the process of being the best teammate and captain I can be. Like anything else in sports, it is a journey that must be cherished. Each one of us on this team has his own journey, and when our goals and ambitions are combined to one, each individual journey connects to make one. We are all excited to embark on the journey we have set for ourselves, to make our final year in the Southern Conference a successful one and to strengthen an everlasting brotherhood.

Go Davidson!

Coleman O’Neill

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