Goals in progress


Amid a crane’s low groans and construction’s hammering claps just south of Stagg Field, men’s soccer coach Scott Wiercinski orders his team to gather balls, mesh scrimmage vests, and water bottles at the start of Monday’s 2 p.m. practice. Huddling the team together, he asks, “Freshmen, what’s the team rule about e-mail? You guys need to check it at least once a day.”

Beyond inculcating the formalities of the four-day-a-week practices, Wiercinski focuses on bolstering the team's defense after its 2-2 start. Despite a 2-1 win Saturday, the team is still “operating at 70 percent,” he says. By the time practice ends, he hopes they are at 75 percent. But with another game Tuesday, he says, the team “can’t do that much physical work, so we’re focusing on defense and organizational issues."

He splits the team into two groups. Three players in each group grip blue scrimmage vests as the other players play Keep Away with the ball. “Focus on ball movement and your defensive positions,” says Wiercinski.

Ten minutes later, he brings the team together to demonstrate a drill aimed at breaking up a team’s offensive sweep. Half the players try to shoot the ball past the goalkeeper, while the others try to steal the ball and get it through one of two makeshift goals. “Left, left, left, right, right!” Wiercinski bellows, directing the defensive positioning.

After shifting to the regular field to scrimmage, then back to the practice area for a few drills, Wiercinski gathers the team together. “And we’re done,” says one player. “Not quite,” says Wiercinski, leading the team through yet another exercise.


Photo: The men's soccer team practices ball movement and defensive positioning during Monday's practice.

September 12, 2007