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October 30, 2000 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-10-30

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8B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - October 30, 2000

0

SOCCER
Continued from Page 11B
homework or listen to music, but the atmosphere
is one of quiet relaxation. They arrive in Bloom-
ington at 4:25. Practice is two hours away.
The players gather in the lobby of the hotel,
gym bags in tow. Bill Armstrong Stadium -
Indiana's legendary pitch - is less than a five-
minute ride away. The first thing Burns has his
team do upon arriving at the stadium is to walk
the field. It is a stark contrast to Elbel Field. Bill
Armstrong Stadium has just undergone a $2.5
million renovation, and gleams beneath the set-
ting Indiana sun. A new grandstand and press
box sit opposite the remnants of the old stands.
Michigan assistant coach Ernie Yarborough, an
Indiana soccer alum, comments on the possible
motives behind scheduling this game - part of
an alumni weekend for dynastic Indiana - with
the infant Michigan squad.
"This is a class facility, and they'd like to show
it off," Yarborough said. "We'll get (a new field)
eventually. Winning helps, and so does the
growth of soccer. Obviously the athletic depart-
ment will want to put the money into a program
that can prove it can win."
The air is cold. The team has had games in the
pouring rain, but not yet in such a chilling cli-
mate.
"There's lots of rain in Florida, but not this
cold weather," freshman Floridian Ian
Hirschfield said. "What a great day for soccer."
The team holds its practice on a field adjacent
to Bill Armstrong. "Acceleration steps!" yells
Burns as his players run drills. "Accelerate
K.T.!" Burns barks at freshman Kevin Taylor.
"We're practicing until you guys can't see the
ball."
After an hour and a half practice consisting of
drills and a small 5 v. 5 scrimmage, Burns calls
his men in. The end of practice is out of necessi-
ty - the sun has left the players all but blind as
they finish their scrimmage. From the huddle,
Burns points towards the Armstrong complex,
and asks the team to notice the contrast between
the old and new sides of the field.
"It's symbolic," Burns explains intensely. "The
one side is the old, fading side. That's Indiana -
trying to hang on. There are two challenges -
the challenge of building a program, and the
challenge of maintaining. We're the wrecking
ball, and we're coming tomorrow."

"There's no way I'm going to accept you guys
playing without fire in your belly! If we're going
to get yellow cards, get some hard ones."

Seniors Brian Peters and JJ. Kern (13) regain their composure after relinquishing five first-half goals.

Now in the dark,
the players get their "A lO f fr
gear together and pile A
back onto the bus. hd -
They take pride in a-',-
the bags, clothes andf
other paraphernalia here'also
they use. The equip-
ment the varsity teamh
now uses is worlds opportunitv
away from what the
club team had used senors . yoi
prior.
"We have three have been w
sets of Nike sweats
- all new," explains this your wh
Yoder. The struggles
of the club program Leave every
are gone, but not for-
gotten.ou th ,.
Tomorrow's game
is the big time. For
the club holdovers, it will be the most difficult
competition that they will likely ever face. For
the freshmen, it is a taste of what they have in
store over the next four years.
WELL, I JUST HAD TO LAUGH
Dinner on Saturday is held at Gisanti's, a casu-
al Italian restaurant where the boys steal the
attention of the room. The 18 athletes are finally
awarded an opportunity to relax and enjoy each
other's company, after a long day of traveling and
then practicing. The topic of discussion at the
dinner table ranges from Big Ten football
(Michigan lost to Purdue that afternoon) and
Major League Soc-
cer playoffs to girls,
dorm life and bad
Mexican food.
Some girls seated
beside the socceri
team's table invite '~
the boys to go out
partying. Thet
seniors flippantly
ask the coaches'
about the possibili-
ty of joining thea

s
1i;
0

the traveling about Bloomington, the VCR plays
footage of Premier League soccer. The players
look on with awe - anxious to get on the field
themselves. The game is just hours away.
WOKE UP,
GOT OUT OF BED
At 9:45 the team had an enormous breakfast
of eggs, bacon, toast and hash browns. It is a far
cry from yesterday's midday Arby's. Senior
Steve Huber's parents have driven down from
Traverse City, and they meet their son in the
hotel lobby. Today is Steve's birthday. Kevin Tay-
lor's father sometimes shows up from Florida.
He is a pilot and tries to
coordinate his flight
schedule with his son's
season; games. The parent support
Sis phenomenal - other
1 lot of families will be at the
game in support of the
On the bus, Purdy asks
Dr a lot of goalkeeper Albert Geldres
if there are any "butterflies
guys in the stomach."
"They were gone" Gel-
f ng for dres said. "But thanks for
reminding me! All those
le career. penalty kicks we were
watching (on the Premier
ling League videos) makes me
nervous. We need to see
some goals not getting
scored."
The team arrives at the
stadium two hours before kickoff. The Hoosier
women are still in the first half against Minneso-
ta, and the players wait and watch. They can't get
into the lockerroom until the second half of the
women's game. They stand at the rail and look
on quietly, somewhat surprised at the size of the
crowd as it begins to swell in anticipation of the
men's game.
Mr. Huber - Steve's dad - passes a yellow
soccer ball around for the team to -sign. It is his
son's birthday present.
In the locker room, the team's gear is sorted
out. There are gloves for the cold; socks; shorts;
uniforms. There are new long-sleeved sweats

teammate from their club team on their wrapped
wrists. Sophomore Robert Turpin flips through
his CD's in search of the appropriate pregame
music.
In the midst of the preparation, Stead pulls out
a gray t-shirt with the block "M" and the number
22 printed on it. The 22 stands for the original 22
members of the varsity squad (after the athletic
department granted the team more scholarship
options, the Wolverines now number 25), and the
shirt is awarded at practices for outstanding
effort and commitment. It is the first time the co-
captain has earned the distinction.
"Now I can hang out with all you guys," Stead
jests.
"Jack was picked as captain for being a role
model, not as a player," assistant coach Walter
Barrett said. "He doesn't get a lot of playing
time, but he earned that shirt out of sheer respect
from the team."
As the team continues to prepare, Burns
stands stoically at the chalkboard, waiting for
their attention. The players quickly realize that
it's time for their coach to address them. The
silence becomes absolute, and Burns takes a
commanding control of the room.
"Let's get 90 strong minutes," Burns begins.
"Take several deep breaths. Block out all
thoughts from your head. Imagine your lung
cage expanding and contracting. Be thinking
about restarts - as we defend, and as we attack.
Think about your role. Feel the contact -there's
gonna be a lot of contact. A lot of firsts happened
this season; there's also a lot of lasts. This is the
last opportunity for a lot of seniors - you guys
have been waiting for this your whole career.
Leave everything out there."
The players file out and are greeted by their,
coaches at the end of the tunnel, leading out to
the field.
"Walk on as a team," Burns reminds them.
Burns' restart comment underscores the theme
of the entire weekend - from the on-field per-
spective. The previous six goals Michigan had
allowed had been off restarts. Corners and indi-
rect kicks were the focus in both the Saturday
evening practice and the pregame warmup. The
restart problem should have been solved. Less
than two minutes into the game, the Wolverines
realized it wasn't.
A CROWD OF PEOPLE STOOD
AND STARED
Michigan Wolverines, meet Matt Fundenberg-
er. The Indiana All-America candidate represents
all that Michigan is not, but has begun striving
toward. Funenberger is a senior forward, and is
in the top 20 for points and goals in Indiana soc-
cer history. Less than two minutes into the first
half, Funenberger was awarded a penalty kick
after a trip in the box. He converted the try on
Geldres for his fifth goal of the year. At the
24:18 mark, Funenberger scored his sixth of the
seaso~n on an assist from Rvan Mack. and two

program.
The Wolverines knew that history told them
they would lose, and despite talk of the contrary,
they were outmatched on every inch of the field.
As the rain came pouring on that Sunday after-
noon, so too did the Hoosier offense. Whatever
momentum Michigan had was soon lost.
Halftime in the visitor lockerroom is at first a
solemn affair, until the senior goalkeeper speaks
up.
"We can't play fucking scared!" Geldres yells
at his mates. "Look who we're playing out there.
Let's play for some pride. 5-0 with 15 minutes
left? Come on!"
"They're a good squad, but 5-0?" junior Dave
George says. "We're so scared of getting beat.
Let's play D like we can play D!"
"Let's forget about the score," Purdy adds.
"This is a test for ourselves. Let's see what we
can do," George says.
Purdy and Huber begin analyzing the Hoosier
attack. Indiana sophomore sensation Pat Noonan
has been "working the 1-2 all day," and exploit-
ing holes in the Michigan defense. The coaches
have stepped outside the lockerroom to discuss
their approach to the obligatory pep talk. After
five minutes of allowing the players to speak
without their presence, Burns, Barrett and
Yarborough step back in.
Burns is not angry -at first. He speaks with
a loud confidence that his players respond to.
"We're going to play a 3-5-2 to start the sec-
ond half," Burns begins. "The game unfolds
however you play it. You're a little shellshocked."
Burns sees one of his players with his eyes
fixed on the floor.
"Yoder, get your head up!" the coach yells.
His tone shifts from strategy to an emotional
appeal.
"There's no way I'Mgoing to accept you guys
playing without fire in your belly!" Burns grabs
Robinson's jersey and yanks on it. "If we're
going to get yellow cards, get some hard ones.
None of this wimpy shit. This isn't going to hap-
pen against Northwestern or Wisconsin. Show us
now that it won't happen then."
"We're going to get better now," Yarborough
says to the room.
"We'll leave today{
knowing that we
played better."
Burns then asks
his players to pick
something up that
won't break - a
piece of chalk, a
paper cup, a pair of
cleats. "That's your
frustration of the
first half," he says.
He leads his team
in the cathartic
exercise of whip--
ping them around
the room. The
atmosphere is note
quite at its
pregame optimism,
but the team's half-
time doldrums
seem to be gone.
They retake the
field for another 45
minutes against the
best.
THEY HAD Michigan coach Steve Bum
TO COUNT front of the Wolverines' stra
THEM ALL
Ryan Mack at 56:56, unassisted. David Prall
at 59:07, assisted by Pat Noonan and Ryan
Mack. Final score, 7-0.
Michigan had six shots on goal to Indiana's
14. Outmatched and exhausted, the Wolverines
shake the hands of the defending national cham-
pions and head back to the lockerroom.
Burns walks silently to the chalkboard and
scribbles.

What went wrong out there?
Robert Turpin replies with a grin, "I don't
even want to answer that."
Sophomore goalkeeper Brad King had
replaced Geldres in the second half.
"These guys were the quickest, toughest and
hardest team we'll play," he laments. "I'm back
there wondering why my D is always out of posi-
tion, but that's just what they do to you"
At 6:30 the bus rolls out again. Things are
quiet, but this is not the anticipatory pregame
quiet. This is the silence of a thoroughly exhaust-
ed team. The Wolverines try to make themselves
comfortable.
A half-hour outside of Bloomington they stop
at a McDonald's for dinner. The mood lightens
slightly. The players' appetites were huge - they
haven't eaten since 10 this morning. Seniors
Purdy, Geldres and Stead sit and joke with fresh-
men Tom Gritter and Mike White.
They recollect stories of the club days like
venerable soldiers talking about the war. They
laugh about their freshman year - how different
it was from the experiences of these freshmen.
Now reassuming their positions on the charter,
the team soon passes out -- this time not even
"Fight Club" can keep them awake.
Gritter and several other freshmen struggle in
near-darkness to get homework done for tomor-
row's classes.
1READ THE NEWS TODAY, OH BOY
Michigan's 1-0 overtime loss to No. 2 Penn
State the previous week may have lulled the
Wolverines into a false sense of confidence.
That confidence was stripped from them 1:38
into the game. Even beyond keeping pace with
Indiana, Burns and his team had certain goals
that were not met on this afternoon.
"This wasn't quite what I anticipated," Burns
says quietly from the front seat. "We saw the
same thing in our guys against Oakland - a
completely different team in the second half. We
came with a little bit of fear. It's part of the learn-
ing curve. We were beaten on many different lev-
els. We'll eventually evolve into that kind of
team," Burns said. "We're a couple of steps away.
The first step is to bring
in better players. Across
the board, we had five or
six who could compete at
their level, not 11.
"It will take us three
years to get to the same
talent level," Burns pre-
dicts. "An additional two
years to get that same
winning mentality. We
need to recruit fighters.
We're going to do what
(Yeagley) has done with
his midwestern players -
work off of that blue-col-
lar mentality.
"We want guys who
want to be part of estab-
lishing something. Kids
who want to make their
footprints."
The bus pulls back into
the Yost parking lot just
before I a.m. Monday.
The Wolverines step
wearily off- cashed out.
Some get in their cars
and leave while others
stands quietly In have friends waiting to
gy. pick them up. There's
nothing more to say, real-
ly, because there's lifting tomorrow afternoon (3-
4) and another opponent to prepare for.
Today in the life of this program was like any
day in the life of this program - fun, exciting
and new at times, but exhausting and humbling
at others.
At Armstrong Stadium, the team got a taste of
where it wants to go. Burns thinks he knows how
to get there. He has the daunting task of finding
others who share his desire to "make their foot-
prints." And each day will be another day in the
life of a varsity team, inching its way toward
greatness.

1

s8
ate

msu next sunday
october 15, 3:30
varsity soccerfield
lifting tomorrow 3-4

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01

ZZ'

I

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