Phases versus moments.
In his second-year at Clemson, a trend towards the latter is what women’s soccer coach Eddie Radwanski views as positive after his young team went 0-5 over the first half of an ACC schedule played almost entirely on the road, and against the usual murderer’s row of highly-ranked opponents.
Phases as in the team’s lapses last season into more prolonged and comprehensive stretches of unproductive play.
Moments as in the occasional if critical letdowns he’s seen from the Tigers this year, and which he regards as glitches and/or lost opportunities in an otherwise engaged and competitive effort.
“One positive I came away with during the first part of our ACC schedule is that we didn’t have long stretches where we didn’t play well,” said Radwanski, whose Tigers take unbeaten, No.1 Florida State tonight in Tallahassee. “We had moments where we maybe could have prevented something from happening, and that’s one of the things that I’ve noticed between last year and this year. We don’t have phases but we have moments. So we’ve eliminated some of the phases of our play, and now we just have to deal with our moments.”
With the exception of a 5-1 loss to Boston College on the road in the Tigers’ ACC-opener in mid-September, Radwanski feels that his team has been knocking on the door in its other league matches, and has been creating scoring chances though without often converting them.
“We actually played quite well against Maryland,” said Radwanski. “It was a strange game and I kind of scratched my head at halftime that we were down 2-0. We had some very good opportunities to be in that game, and again it went back to those moments. When we get opportunities in the attacking side, we just have to take advantage of those chances.
“We’ve put ourselves in really good positions in a number of games, whether it was Maryland, or Duke, or Virginia, to get something from it, and, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do that. Even in our game against Wake Forest, we had a penalty-kick and didn’t put that away. So it’s kind of like, ‘Okay, can we get something to bounce our way?’”
Still, and while he knows that the Tigers will have to create their own luck, Radwanski believes that if they can begin to cash-in on the breakaways and open-play opportunities they’ve generated to date, they’ll have a chance in the home-match-heavy second stage of the ACC slate to notch a win, get some rhythm, and perhaps even create a positive domino-effect.
“In our home-game against Virginia (a 1-0 loss), our kids did a wonderful job, and our tactics were perfect for the game.” said Radwanski. “The kids executed it well, and we were just a bit unlucky. We conceded one late in the game, and even though Virginia had significantly more shots than we did, we actually had the best chances of the game to score.
“Even after they scored, we had a great chance at the end where Maddy (Elder) took a free-kick, and was maybe just a half-inch away from it. That’s been a little bit of the synopsis of our season in ACC-play. We put the ball in the net and all of a sudden it’s 1-1 with three minutes to go. Our kids just haven’t gotten that injection to go, ‘All right, we’ve got it!’ We’re working extremely hard, we’re just not getting that joy yet from all the effort.”
Though he might reasonably have wished that a rebuilding and freshman-laden team’s ACC schedule had been allocated differently as far as being so front-loaded with road matches, Radwanski is taking the view that the Tigers will be better-served by that harsh initiation going forward.
“I’m still a believer that we’re going to benefit from that,” he affirmed. “I would be concerned if I didn’t see us making progress with our play. But I am seeing that, and the young players are getting good experience and will have that under their belts. Though it’s a grueling league and we just went through the top-ten in a span of a couple of weeks, there are still several games to go, and we have to keep plugging away.”