Captain's Corner with Danny Gray... Home Sweet Home

Sept. 16, 2009

Once a week during the 2009 season senior defender and second-year captain, Danny Gray will give you an inside look at the U-M men's soccer program.

Hey Michigan Soccer Fans!

Sorry it's been so long since my last blog. I guess I figured we were undefeated since my last post and I didn't want to jinx the win streak. However, I've gotten many an angry text message in the last few days from friends around the country (including quite the explicit one from graduated Patrick Cucci formerly of Lehigh University) demanding off-the-field updates. On that note, here goes nothin'...

As previously mentioned, we've gotten four great results in our most recent four matches. We bounced back great from our season-opening loss at Notre Dame with a great win on the road against a very good (and ranked) Drake team. Drake definitely put us to the test with their effort and athleticism but we responded well and got the win thanks to some last minute heroics by Chase Tennant. A few days after the overall solid team performance at Drake, we played miserably against Valparaiso. Valparaiso just seemed to want to win more than we did in the first 45 minutes and we went into halftime down, 1-0. Valparaiso had a VERY rowdy student sections which featured some very impressive preseason All-American HECKLER. Julian (Robles), (Adam) Keller, (Chris) Blais and even Coach Burns suffered the worst of their hollers. We went into halftime VERY disappointed with our energy level and the upperclassmen voiced our frustrations to the team. Many guys responded well with a particularly impressive effort from Mauro Fuzetti who rallied the rest of us with his impressive ethic up top. When the scoreboard clock read 00:00:00 we were up 2-1, but we were very lucky to escape Valparaiso, Ind. with a win that night. That being said, we all felt that a win is a win and we were just looking forward to going home.

By the time we got back to Ann Arbor campus was buzzing. Students were back in town, the dorms were full, and the music was blasting on State St. well into the night. Classes started a few days later and it was great to see old friends and to meet some new ones. With all the distractions around we let the level of our training sessions slowly drop....

Following the week of subpar practices we had two subpar performances on our beautiful new game field. We hosted Lipscomb University and Wright State in the Michigan Invitational during our annual alumni weekend. Despite the 3-0 results of both games, nobody walked off the field satisfied with our performances. Don't get me wrong - I'm very happy to have added two tallies to the win column - especially in front of guys like Ryan Alexander, Knox Cameron, Chris Glinski, Bobby Trybula, Brian Popeney and Kevin Savitskie. However, I'm not pleased with how we were unable to control the tempo of the game once we took the lead in both games. We were fortunate that Chris Blais was able to make a few saves and we got lucky that both Lipscomb and Wright State hit the post and crossbar on dangerous opportunities. Had fate decided to have those shots go in we would have had even more of a battle on our hands and we should have never left it up to fate.

Even with the recent slide as of late we find ourselves right where we want to be. Here we are at 4-1 with a win on the road against a ranked opponent. We understand that in the last few games we have taken care of business and gotten wins but we still have many improvements to make. We won't look past any opponent but we are focused on preparing for our push to win the Big Ten Championship that we all so desperately crave.

Yesterday we had a good "players only" team meeting where I think we refocused and got everybody back on the same page. Our training session yesterday was intense and we looked crisp. I am excited for our 7:30 kickoff tonight against in-state rival Detroit and I expect us to put together a good 90 minute performance.

I'd also like to throw a special shout-out to Alec Robertson, the newest member of the Michigan men's soccer team. Thanks for all your help in pregame and for supporting us - it means a lot!


Editors Note: Alec Robertson has been adopted by the University of Michigan men's soccer team through the Friends of Jaclyn organization. Friends of Jaclyn is an organization that improves the life of children suffering with pediatric brain tumors and their families. The organization matches a child with a college or high school sports team based on geographic location. U-M teams involved with Friends of Jaclyn include: baseball, softball and field hockey.

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