SPORTS

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April 29, 2008

Soccer gets roughed up in spring exhibitions

Losing two and tying one of its three exhibition games at Northwestern Sunday, men’s soccer used the day to kick off its preseason preparation for next fall.

“The games exposed some of the things we need to work on and don’t do as well,” head coach Scott Wiercinski explained. “They were very telling for what we need to continue to put emphasis on and train in practice.”

The Maroons played three 45-minute games on Sunday, losing 2–0 to DePaul, tying UW–Parkside 0–0, and then losing 3–0 to the Wildcats.

The focus for each of the games was the same as what Chicago hopes to accomplish during the spring season: develop good team shape, ball speed, and defensive organization.

“I think our lack of ball speed showed against three very athletic teams,” Wiercinski said. “I thought our defensive organization was good at times but inconsistent throughout the day. Our team shape was adequate for the most part but we gave up five goals and didn’t score any so it wasn’t superb.”

“Playing offense is much more reliant on understanding teammates and is usually the last thing that comes along,” he continued. “The teams we played were really good, so it’s not a huge shock that we didn’t score.”

While the Maroons have only had 12 practices in the Spring Quarter, the squads they played—all of which were either D-I or D-II schools—have been on the field four or five times a week for several months.

“Not surprisingly, more play can lead to more team cohesion,” Wiercinski said.

He believes the team’s best performance on Sunday was in the scoreless draw against UW–Parkside.

“Both DePaul and Northwestern had a lot of ball and a lot of possession, and we were not quite as organized and patient defensively,” he explained.

“I thought looking at the day the problem was that we didn’t have enough players playing well throughout the day, although a lot of players played well at different times.”

Gaining the coach’s notice this weekend was a bevy of first-years, demonstrating the importance of youth to the team. Wiersinski cited rookie defenders Cory Herrick and Steven McRae and midfielders Kenzo Manners and Ryan Fitzgerald as well as second-year defender Andrew Marshall as turning in solid performances.

Experimenting with two formations throughout the day, the Maroons found that the 4-4-2 was slightly more successful.

“Playing good teams like we did is a really good barometer from which to measure our progress and see where we’re at,” Wiercinski said. “It’s a very important exercise to go through. Now we can look forward and improve for the rest of the spring and next fall.”