The University of Alabama at Birmingham began the 2013 NCAA men’s soccer season on fire, scoring seemingly at will and defeating all comers as they streaked to a 3-0-0 record, including 2012 National Champions Indiana.
However, the Blazers have not scored in their last two games, a 0-0 tie with Charlotte and a 1-0 loss to East Tennessee State, dropping from #8 in the NSCAA national poll to #20 and from #12 in the College Soccer News poll to #19 in the space of a week.
Blazers Head Coach Mike Getman insists that he is not worried by his team’s problems in front of goal, and believes they will turn things around soon.
“I think that our team is a very good team and we’re going to continue to score lots of goals,” Getman said. “I think that both weekends are maybe a little bit misleading. The opening weekend, we were absolutely on fire but it seemed like everything we touched went in the net and you don’t expect that to carry on throughout an entire season.
“This weekend, we came up against two of the very best defensive teams in the country. Both of them played extremely well, we hit the post in both games and had several other good chances but when you play Top 25 teams you know you’re not going to score four or five goals very often.
“I think that goal scoring tends to some days go your way and some days not. If it continues to be zeros, then obviously I’ll be a bit concerned.”
Getman believes it is the fitness of his players and their high work ethic that has contributed to their success already this year, and it is that work ethic amongst other things that will keep them among the top programs in the country.
“I think the players have worked incredibly hard in every match,” Getman said. “We came into preseason very fit, I was pleased with how hard the guys worked over the summer. They came back fit, which has allowed them to work hard every game and so I would say that’s been the biggest key to our success so far.”
UAB has already played several top-ranked teams, including Virginia Commonwealth as well as Indiana and Charlotte, all of which have at some point in the top 25 of the NSCAA poll. Getman believes this competition against the premier college teams has been of immense benefit for his players.
“They’ve been very important, that’s why we scheduled those games at the start of the season,” he said. “We want to see what we’re good at, we want to see what we’re not good at and learn from those things as quickly as we can. If you don’t play big games until the middle of the season, you might have a lot of wins but you’re not nearly as prepared as you would like to be. Every match we’ve played so far has taught us some very important lessons and hopefully we can keep learning every match we play.”
The Blazers are in the midst of a stretch of home games, and welcome Mercer to West Campus Field on September 21, hoping to improve further on their 3-1-1 record.
Chris Teale is a contributing writer for College Soccer News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Chris_teale.