Rachel Owens goes up for a header in a spring match at TJC.
May 1, 2013
NACOGDOCHES, Texas- The spring of 2013 saw several changes across multiple levels of the Stephen F. Austin soccer program, from the coaching staff to the day to day operations. We had a chance to visit with first-year head coach Wally Crittenden and get his thoughts about the transition spring and how the fall preparations are looking.
Q: How has this transition phase been for both you and the team?
WC: First of all, the phrase transition semester should be used lightly as the bottom line is we owe it to our seniors to make sure that we not only maintain the standards they have experienced in their first 3 seasons, but we heighten those expectations in all facets of the program. Sometimes, you can infer that a transition semester means that there is an adjustment period before those standards are embraced. From day one, we have approached this spring in a manner to expect everyone to behave and make choices today that will put us in a position to be successful in November as we participate in the postseason.
Q: What has the communication been like with the players since you arrived?
WC: The first activity we did was to listen to the players and take inventory of the aspects of the program they felt put them in a position to be successful as well as the aspects that prevented them from performing. Once those positive habits were embraced and the poor operations changed, we felt we had a culture that would allow all of us to grow and improve with everyone having a vested interest in how we prepare.
Q: How do you think the girls responded to a new training regimen?
WC: The training environment was great all spring. They already had a great appreciation for the weight room and for conditioning. They also were prepared to work very hard at training and didn’t shy away from one challenge we gave them either collectively or individually. The message early on though was that it was not enough to work hard. It was not enough when adversity presented itself to try to solve it by working harder or being more physical. That will work as a solution against a majority of teams, but against the very best, you have to be able to solve problems as soccer players and understand the implications of choices made from a technical and tactical standpoint. We had a great variety of games to teach, and support, this concept and I was very pleased with the growth I saw in the team over the course of the spring in this regard.
Q: What did you take away from each of the spring matches?
WC: I was encouraged by the results this spring though I am very excited about the opportunity to improve and compete at even a higher level in the fall. The fact is, we want to put ourselves in a position to win every game we play. If we look back at the spring, we had opportunities to win every game. We lost a great game on the road to Oklahoma State 1-0 in which we were able to try to and impose ourselves on a very good team. There is no doubt that our conditioning and ability to adjust and manipulate our shape allowed us to really put them under pressure for the final 20 minutes in which I thought we would tie the game. Against Navarro, we were able to execute various patterns and shape shifting and scored two great goals. Not only that, we were able to identify, recruit, and sign one of the best players on the field, for either team, that day in Jodian Morris who will be an exciting player for us this fall. The Houston Aces match was an exciting game that featured some very good players from across the country that will be playing at a very high level. We improved as we went through that match and were able to score two fantastic goals to win that game 2-0 in front of a great crowd at home. We opened the season against a talented Tyler JC team and from a logistic and game management standpoint, the team was able to learn about who we are going to be as a staff while at the same time executing at a high level and winning the game.
Q: Any final thoughts?
WC: As a staff, we know more about this team and what helps them prepare to compete at a high level; I feel great about the training habits and the commitment to preparation of this group. I am confident that regardless of the opponent, we will prepare in a manner that gives us the best possible chance to be successful. I am most excited because the players are excited! There is a great buzz around the program within our roster as well as with our future players and recruits.