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.
September: 8 | 23 | 30
October: 5 | 20
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!
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.
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!
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!!!
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.
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”.
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!