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Archive for November, 2010

Tournament Tough

Nov. 12 – 4:30 p.m.
Sitting in the press box at Macalester waiting for the start of the women’s soccer game vs. Northwestern.

It was a tough match for the volleyball team in the first round. They got matched up against a team that was very athletic and had a dominant net player. The match could literally have gone either way but unfortunately the Cobbers lost 3-0.

That is the strange thing about volleyball, you can play great but if you lose key points at the end of a set you have nothing to show for it. It is kind of like the NBA in the fact that the teams just stay close for three quarters and then the outcome is decided in the final minutes of play. The first two sets against the Pirates were that way. The teams stayed close until the final points. The teams were tied at 22-22, then 23-23 and finally 24-24. Both teams had set points and came up empty. Then Whitworth won two straight points and won the set.

It was harsh for the Cobbers and they put up a good fight in the third but were in too big of a hole and lost.

The only good thing about the end result is that Concordia doesn’t have any seniors so there was no “end of the career” emotions. The team was sad but I think they were comforted by the fact that it is more like a halfway point in their two-season journey. Hopefully they will all be back and return with a sense of purpose.

A couple of observations from the match:
– It was a great NCAA Tournament match. Two very good teams playing hard. Both teams fought off nerves at the start and then made great plays from the second set on.
– Once again I am amazed at how well the Concordia fan travel. On a match played at 12:30 on a Friday, Concordia had at least 50 fans and all were very supportive. It makes my job easier knowing that there are so many caring parents out there.
– Volleyball would be a tough game to coach because there are so many changes and shifts in momentum.
– And again I am amazed at the quality of coaches and people that Tim and Bob are. Concordia is very lucky to have those two at the helm of the program. Seven trips to the NCAA Tournament in the last eight years – enough said!
– Whitworth (Pirates) had a great team cheer as they would yell  “arrrgh” at certain times.
– The new St. Thomas facility is ridonkulous – that is all I can say about it.

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The 07’s

The traveling portion of the NCAA Tournament trip is over. The volleyball team headed out in the morning and the women’s soccer team left at 2 p.m.

The bus finally pulled out around 2:15 after they had to wait for the SID to get all his jobs finished! It was a sprint from the moment I got on campus to get everything ready for the weekend for the home events.  Two examples of the very exciting jobs that need to be taken care of in order to make sure all the games get covered. First, I had to track down a second wireless card in order to post live stats for the football game on Saturday. The football press box isn’t wired for internet capabilities so all the live blogs and live stats we do for football has to go through our wireless card. Unfortunately I only have one wireless card and I had to bring it on the trip so I had to go and track down another one on campus. From there I had to get another power cord for the third laptop we use. I have one laptop on the trip, the second will be used for football and the third will take care of both women’s hockey games. The power cord for that laptop was lost and I had to beg the computer services department to borrow a cord for the weekend. Once I got the cord I then had to set up the laptop for both games – a job that usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour depending on the teams.

Exciting stuff, huh?!

After finally getting all the jobs finished, I loaded the bus. Whenever I go on trips to the national tournament with teams you can tell that they have gone through the same hectic pace to finish all their work and pack for the trip. All the players are usually in a very good mood once they are able to sit down and be with their teammates on the bus. That is the case today as we pull out of Concordia. The players are laughing and happy to be on the road.

The talk at the start of the trip is of the article and picture of the three Fargo North seniors in the Fargo Forum. It is a great article written by Eric Peterson and the photo has the three with soccer balls balanced between their heads. The other players teased them about the pose but Sue, Sam and Erika handled it very well.

That brought out the first movie of the trip which was “Love and Other Disasters”. It was definitely not a movie you would find on a guy’s bus trip. It was very average and helped kill the first couple of hours. Some players watched, others looked at different videos on their laptops. The highlight of the first couple of hours was the unmistakable laugh of Erika Swenson. She was watching another video and would crack up at different points of the trip. Her laugh is loud and distinct and everyone usually starts laughing just because Erika is laughing. It is a perfect example of what Erika brings to the team. She helps others all the time and makes her teammates feel better just from being in her presence.

I spent most of the first part of the trip finalizing details for the weekend.

The second movie of the day was the most poignant. The team chose to watch “Dare to Dream”, the movie about the five US women’s soccer players (Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly and Joy Fawcett) who take the team from obscurity to World Cup champions. It shows highlights from the early days and ends with their farewell game against Mexico. It is a great movie that has a lot of emotion as the team goes from playing in front of a couple hundred people to playing in front of 90,000 at the Rose Bowl in the World Cup final. They are the catalysts for the popularity in the women’s game and eventually their time came to an end. They were five called the 91’s because of the year they started to play for the national team.

I couldn’t help but think about the similarities between those five and the 10 Cobber seniors who have taken the program from being successful to one that is among the best in the region and nationally ranked. Like the national players they are all very close and have the respect of their younger teammates. They have also come up with signature wins and are coming to a very emotional end.

The final game for this year’s 07’s will be one of the most emotional I will ever see. It will be extremely hard to watch this group walk off the field for the last time knowing they will never be together as teammates ever again. Hopefully that moment won’t be for another couple of weeks.

The team pulled into Noodles for dinner around 5:30 p.m. I wondered how many times the team has eaten at Noodles this season and in the four years the 07’s have been on the team. They all knew what they were going to order and it didn’t take very long to get the food, eat and get back on the b us,

From there it was off to Macalester and the team’s 1-hour practice on the game field. The team went through an 11 v. 11 session that lasted for 35 minutes of the timed period. Dan would stop the controlled scrimmage period periodically and practice free kicks. The practice finished with penalty kicks as the team worked on one of the biggest parts of playoff soccer.

The highlight of the day for the team came after they got back on the bus and were treated to shakes from a local restaurant. I found out that this team will do anything for shakes/ice cream. They burst out in the loudest cheer when Dan told them that they were getting shakes and then were the happiest when they were enjoying their shakes on the bus.

The funniest moment of the day came after dinner when Dan got on the microphone at the front of the bus and told the team he had some big news. He then told the team that assistant coach Megan Rice had just engaged. The team went absolutely wild as they hooted and hollered with excitement for Megan. Only problem was that she hadn’t gotten engaged and Dan had got them all to bite on the story.

The day ended as the team got off the bus at the hotel. The seniors were excited because they got to stay with just two players in a room – one of the perks for making the national playoffs!

Tomorrow will be spent with both teams. I will head to St. Thomas with the volleyball team for their 12:30 match against Whitworth. I will then head over to Macalester to be with the women’s soccer team as they play Northwestern in the first round of the playoffs.

I will be posting in-game blogs for both teams so fans can ask questions about the teams or leave comments.

Can’t wait for Gameday and to see what the first round will bring.

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We’re Baaaaaack!

Welcome back to the Cobber sports information blog site. This will be the home for the “Road To The Playoffs” blog for the volleyball and women’s soccer teams as they head to St. Paul to compete in the NCAA Tournament.

The blog is being written by Jim Cella, the Concordia College Sports Information Director, who has the privilege to tag along with the Cobber women’s soccer and volleyball teams and their coaches as they make their way to the NCAA Tournament in St. Paul. The intent of this journal is to give readers an inside look as to what goes behind the scenes of an NCAA Division III athletic program. A different viewpoint than just the box scores and statistics as a group of athletes gets ready to compete on one of the most prestigious stages in all of college athletics – the NCAA Tournament.

The views written in this piece are entirely of the writer and not meant to harm or disrespect any of the athletes or school. It is merely an attempt to give the reader a greater understanding of what the coaches and athletes have to go through to get ready to perform at the highest level. I hope you enjoy the journal.

I will be heading down to St. Paul with the women’s soccer team as they will leave later on Thursday which will give me more time to prepare for the busy weekend. We will host the final football home game and also have the home opener for the women’s hockey team. Since I will be on the road my student work staff will be covering those games and I have to make sure everything is all ready.

I will also be attending the women’s soccer practice on Thursday and acting as the team’s institutional representative at the NCAA site meeting later that night. I will hoepfully hook up with the volleyball team on Friday at their pre-game and then on the way to the their opening national playoff match at St. Thomas.

Stay tuned for more updates along the road. In the meantime feel free to read some of the previous “Road to the Playoff” blogs:

2008 Volleyball2007 Women’s Soccer

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