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Jamal Shteiwi Player Journal

Throughout the 2004 season, Jamal Shteiwi, a senior on the University of Kentucky men's soccer team, will record a player journal. The entries will appear below.

August: 30
September: 8 | 23 | 30
October: 5 | 20
November: 4


November 4
Wildcat fans, the past week has been very successful for the men’s soccer team. In the past week we played two Conference USA foes in Cincinnati and UAB. First, we hosted the Bearcats of Cincinnati this past Wednesday and defeated them 2-0 in a huge regional game. Coming into the game, the Bearcats were on a six game winning streak including a huge away win at St. Louis. We then went down to Birmingham, AL to face # 17 UAB in a hostile environment that gave UAB a clear home field advantage. We were able to come away with a 2-1 victory despite questionable officiating that included a foul count of 21-3 in UAB’s favor in the second half alone. Brandon Stewart finally came through on his claim that he scores "G Dubs"....(Game Winning Goals).

Heading into the MAC tournament this weekend, hosted by Western Michigan, the team is working hard on trying to improve in certain areas. Since we were the outright winners of the MAC regular season, we were awarded the # 1 seed in the tournament giving us a first round bye. Thus, we are automatically in the semi-finals playing the winner of the Marshall-Western Michigan game.

As it was Halloween last weekend, the team had a costume-mandatory practice last Thursday. The variety and creativeness of the costumes was entertaining and disturbing! Some of the better costumes I can discuss are Jonathan Brunet as Darth Vader, Nathan Li as William Hung, Jibran Shteiwi as Krusty the Clown, Adam Walker as Buzz Lightyear and of course, myself as Harry Potter! GO CATS!


October 20
Wildcat fans, sorry it has been so long since my last journal entry, but the last couple of weeks have been very busy with games, practice, and the occasional class. This past weekend the team improved our record to 9-4-2 with two solid victories. On Friday night, we faced Mid-America Conference rival Bowling Green, who subsequently had knocked us out of the past two MAC tournaments. We beat them 5-1 and it was good to see a lot of players get a solid amount of minutes because everyone has been working hard in practice. On Sunday afternoon, we faced a very athletic and dynamic Alabama A&M squad. This was perhaps the team’s best performance of the year, we were able to play attractive, attacking soccer, but the only problem was we had a bit of trouble finishing our chances on goal. We ended up winning the game 1-0 in double overtime, on a Michael Strong game winning goal.

With only three games remaining in the season, it is really starting to become crunch time. Each one of these games has huge influence on a possible NCAA tournament birth. Yet, we are trying to take it one game at a time. This Friday night, we travel to the University of Akron to face the Zips in a another conference showdown. If we are to win this game, not only will it be a huge regional win, but the victory will guarantee us at least a share of the MAC regular season championship. The regular season champion is also guaranteed a bye in the first round of the conference tournament, which is huge.

I have decided to give some recognition to our defense and goalie, since they, especially Brandon Stewart (haha), are always complaining about the attacking players getting all the attention and publicity. The latest statistics have the UK defense and goalkeeper ranked 28th in the nation in goals against average, with a 0.83 GAA.


October 5
Well, Wildcat fans, this past weekend sure was eventful. On Friday night we hosted No. 13 Michigan, and the game turned out to be a heartbreaker. We lost 1-0 in overtime on a golden goal (sudden death) in the 93rd minute of play. This was by far our best all around performance as a team all season. We were able to dominate for large portions of the game, and really took the game to Michigan. Even though we outplayed and out shot Michigan, soccer is a funny game where you can dominate a game and still lose. Despite the loss, the game showed that we can play, even outplay, one of the best teams in the country. I feel that this game illustrated that our team has turned the corner, and that we are really playing well.

It was extremely difficult to bounce back after such a tough loss on Friday, but we had to travel to Buffalo to play our third conference game of the year. Traveling to Buffalo on Saturday was a bit frustrating, since our flight was delayed for three hours, but the team was able to keep in good spirits playing cards, reading or watching movies. The team was a bit angry going into the Buffalo game, still a bit upset after the way we lost to Michigan on Friday night. We showed our determination during the game by defeating Buffalo 3-0 on a cold day and on an average field.

Our next game is this Wednesday night against rivals #3 Indiana University at the soccer complex at 7:30; hope to see you all out there!!!

Regarding the caffeine consumption of our coaching staff, Coach Chaney wanted me to point out that while Coach Wilkerson has given up the Dr. Peppers, he has substituted them with about 4-5 cups of coffee a day!


September 30
Well, Wildcat fans; we had another good weekend against two tough opponents last weekend. First, we hosted the Thundering Herd of Marshall on Friday night. The game was a tale of two halves. In the first half the team was on fire and in the second half we kind of eased off the pedal and didn’t play to well. The game finished with us winning 2-1, with Brandon Stewart scoring the game winner off of a header in the second half. It was a nice conference victory, but it was disappointing that we gave up a goal to end our conference shutout streak and that we weren’t able to put the game away.

Our next game was on Sunday afternoon against the Buckeyes of Ohio State. This game was huge for us because Ohio State is in our region, and when it comes down to NCAA tourney time, you have to win your in region games. The first half was a tough, hard-fought half, and we took 1-0 lead into half time. Once again, this was a game of two opposite halves. In the second half, Ohio State had the better of the game, equalizing in the middle of the half to tie the game up at 1-1. Thankfully, we were able to get the game winner in the 89th minute by my little brother, Jibran, and hold onto the 2-1 victory.

Even though we had a good weekend with two victories, the team and coaches realize that in order for us to keep on winning we need change our mentality and play well for a complete game. Therefore, in practice this week we have been working on the necessary things in preparation for our game on Friday. This Friday night at 7:30 we host the #13 Michigan Wolverines, and it is a huge in region game. Hope to see you all out there supporting us!!!


September 23
Sorry about the long hiatus between journal entries, I’ve been busy with class, tests, practice, lifting, and the list goes on and on. Since I last wrote, we have been on a four game unbeaten streak. The first of the four was two weeks ago, against UNC-Asheville who we defeated in a 3-1 performance at home. The next victory was a conference game on the road at Western Michigan. Thus far, this was the best half of soccer the team has put together, scoring three unanswered goals (Thomas Senecal scoring the game winner), which were enough to hold onto the 3-0 victory. Not only was the conference win huge, but we extended our shutout streak in the MAC to seven games, holding over from last year.

Even though the team remained unbeaten this past weekend, it was still a disappointment with a 1-1 draw against Georgia Southern and a 2-1 victory over Winthrop. The results weren’t necessarily disappointing, it was the way the team performed. We were looking to build off of our last weekend, but it seemed like we took a step back. Our coaching staff was well aware of this and made changes to correct our performances. We’ve had a tough week of practice, so the coaches could see who really wanted to win and who could fight back after a disappointing weekend. I feel that the team has bounced back and is ready to go this weekend against two tough opponents. On Friday night at 7:30 we host Marshall and Sunday afternoon we host Ohio State at 2:30. I hope to see all of you out there supporting us!

Regarding the “Dr. Pepper” consumption, I am disappointed to inform you that the contest has already ended, and Coach Chaney has won by default. Coach Wilkerson has decided to lay off the caffeine, and a very reputable source inside the office admitted to seeing Coach Chaney “down ten peppers in a couple hours.” I will leave the source anonymous for his safety.


September 8
Well, the men’s soccer team had an eventful first week to open up the 2004 season. We have played our first three games in a span of five days. In those five days, we have traveled to Dallas and back, as well as to Louisville. The trip to Dallas was really nice. We flew direct and stayed in a nice hotel in the middle of the city. Immediately after arriving at the hotel, we attended the tournament banquet with SMU, Tulsa and Stanford. The banquet was held at an incredible restaurant, with every other team in khaki pants and a nice shirt. Apparently, our coaches didn’t get the memo of what the banquet attire was to be because we were in our travel shirts and shorts (which are very nice, but we were just a little underdressed).

We opened up the season in SMU’s Mi Cocina Classic, playing SMU on Friday night. Needless to say, our opening game didn’t go quite as planned. We weren’t quite ready for No. 7 SMU, losing 3-1, with Thomas Senecal scoring the lone goal. The team played better on Sunday, in our game against No. 17 Tulsa, despite the scorching heat. The game was tied 1-1 going into the second half, when we had a player sent off due to a red card. We ended up losing the game 2-1 on a fluke rebound, and we even had a goal called back.

Now on to better news, we traveled to in-state rival Louisville on Tuesday. This game is always a huge game, but this year it was even bigger due to our performance on the weekend. We needed a win badly, not only for our record, but also for the team’s confidence. We did win, 2-0, against Louisville at Cardinal Park, with a Cardinal crowd of over 2,000. Freshman Mike D’Agostino netted the game winner at the beginning of the second half, and that was all our defense, led by goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum (I had to write that because he was sitting right beside me), needed to get the “W”. The win extended Kentucky’s undefeated streak at Cardinal park to 5-0-1. With our first win the team seems to be gelling and coming together. We have our home opener this Friday night against UNC-Asheville. So, I hope to see a lot of people out there.

On a lighter note, there has been a request to add a new, weekly statistic monitoring the amount of Dr. Pepper’s consumed by our assistant coaches, Coach Jeff Chaney and Coach Matt Wilkerson. Currently, Coach Wilkerson has totaled 44 “Peppers” to Coach Chaney’s 40 “Peppers”.


August 30
Well, the summer has flown by and preseason is upon us. This year’s preseason was extremely different from the previous years. We had only two full days of training before our preseason games. So, the team only had two days to fit in compliance meetings, physicals, team bonding, fitness tests, training, and Coach Collins’ “ten peso” (The Three Amigos) version of tactics. Despite the shorter preseason, it was still extremely demanding both mentally and physically.

For the third straight year we went to the IPFW (Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne) preseason tournament. These games are less about winning and losing, and more about working some things out and gelling as a team. Our first game was against Michigan State, which we lost 2-0. Despite the score, there were some good things to take from the game and build upon. Our next game was against No. 2 St. Johns, which we lost 2-1. I feel that the score line didn’t reflect the way the game was played. We outshot St. John’s and had many close chances, with some shots careening off the post (I thought I would throw a big word in there to make myself sound smarter). The team played much better in that game than in the previous one. The team’s intensity, organization, and work rate were immensely improved from the Michigan State game. This was illustrated when we dominated large portions of the contest. These games gave us a chance to work the kinks out and also to introduce our freshman/newcomers to the speed of play of top Division I soccer.

Now we are in a ten day hiatus between our preseason games and our season opener against No. 4 SMU in Dallas. The time has enabled our team to have ample time to work on the things that we struggled with during the preseason games. Also, this time gives the coaching staff a better chance to evaluate players and see what combination of players works best. All in all, this is the most optimistic I (as well as others) have been in preseason because our team has a lot of potential and the ability to go and compete for a national championship!

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