By Danny Contreras
The 2010 men’s soccer season was an abysmal one for CCSU. The Blue Devils came in dead last in the NEC, acquiring only six points out of a possible 30, and won four out of 17 games. Additionally, the team only won once at home.
Many Blue Devils fans were left wondering what had gone wrong with the team. How do you go from winning a championship three years ago to finishing undefeated the 2009 season and getting eliminated in the playoffs to finishing last in the conference?
The coaching staff remained the same, many players from the 07-08 season were experienced veterans and the team had enough talent to possibly win the championship. So why did the team fail to deliver this season?
Of course, there is no simple answer. Bad slumps happen to all the teams in the world. For example, domestically, the New England Revolution went from one of the most feared teams in the league to a push over team in recent years.
Mentality? Frustration? New players? The fans? Well, it was a combination of all of these. And while not every single element may apply to the CCSU, it will take the resolution of these problems for the Blue Devils to advance again in the NEC.
Although many teams performed better than the Blue Devils, in the majority of games CCSU dominated the opposing team. The Blue Devils looked fitter, smarter and more eager to win. Yet, the team failed to deliver in the moment.
Defenders were playing one style, midfielders and strikers were playing another. While defenders tried long ball tactics, midfielders were playing for possession and strikers were devising counter-attacks.
The team lacked the mentality of being in the team. The solution is simple, at least for the Blue Devils. Choose style over result. Why? When the team has a third of its players playing one tactic and the other two thirds are doing their own tactics, nothing will come to fruition.
Simply decide on one style of game play and the team gets the result. Mentality is, at the moment, the most important acquisition for the Blue Devils and its recuperation.
Next is frustration from the team and knowing how to manage it. Yes, it sucks to lose, however, the team should not let frustration dictate the game and the result. Every game was in CCSU’s hand and the athletes caused themselves to lose.
Yes, bad refereeing decisions happen all the time, but knowing to cope with those decisions is key to defeating opponents. Nonetheless, what needs to be understood more by the team is the fact that going down 1-0 in the first 15 minutes of the game is not a call for oblivion. The team must accept that it will continue to make errors and instead of kicking themselves for it, they should try to amend it.
After the first two issues have been handled CCSU can look at new players. Outlined in last season’s performance was the lack of a winger. According to Coach Shaun Green, they’re in the process getting wingers to add depth to the squad.
Nevertheless, the aforementioned issues must be addressed before any new players come in. A team that has this type of turmoil cannot create chemistry with new players.
Now we look at the twelfth man, which seems to be absent for the Blue Devils. Attendance at the games was usually low. This problem seems to be getting addressed as the new field gets constructed, however, the team still needs people to go to the games.
The fans can be a deciding factor in games. They affect psyche more than a skilled player does – that’s why the fans are so important. In order to fix this, the team needs more exposure. The team needs to find a way to reach to the Blue Devils fans to come to the game.
Whether it is Twitter, Facebook or Youtube, the team needs to connect with the fans one way or the other. Once the team feels the pressure that comes with having people rooting for them, then results will also come the way of the team.
There is still more than eight months until the new season begins and surely the team is beginning a phase of rebuilding with former captain Robert Cavener leaving and other seniors at the end of their CCSU careers.
This is CCSU’s chance to explore new frontiers in football, mainly the winning mentality that is formed from the collective and not the individual. CCSU has the talent and the capacity to win the NEC tournament next fall and the school and team, as a collective, must help it get back there.