Blazer to His Team: Stick With the Plan
Sept. 20, 2010
CHICAGO - Craig Blazer is sounding a word of caution to his soccer players.
Don't get ahead of yourselves.
After losing to Eastern Illinois 2-0 on Saturday despite firing 14 shots on goal (to five for the Panthers), the Blue Demon coach doesn't want any solo flights when it comes to navigating towards the net.
"If we don't find a goal, don't put the blame on yourself and start playing out of your game," Blazer said. "The guys have to remain confident in each other that they'll endure times like that and will be able to find a goal.
"It will come. We just need to keep putting ourselves in goal-scoring position."
DePaul (2-3-1) did that numerous times over the weekend while playing within the parameters of Blazer's patient ball-possession offense.
The Blue Demons will need to upgrade their disciplined game of keep-away this week with matches against 2009 NCAA Championship tournament quarterfinalist Drake (3-3-0) on Tuesday at home and at talented West Virginia (4-2-0) Friday in their BIG EAST Conference opener.
"Each game takes a lot of twists and turns and has its own plot lines," Blazer said. "Our program has developed over the years, and we're the team that has a good chunk of the possession.
"We take a lot of pride n our strategy of maintaining possession. Keeping the ball helps to establish confidence and makes the other team anxious to take possession and try to score.
"The final part of our game is scoring. Finishing didn't go our way on Saturday. But it will if we continue to put ourselves in good positions to score."
Drake has been outscored 9-7 in the early going and outshot 141-66. Its opponents have fired 47 shots on goal to 26 for the Bulldogs.
But after losing back-to-back games to Notre Dame and then-No. 18 Indiana, Drake has knocked off Missouri-Kansas City and Loyola-Chicago.
"We're going up against a good team and a program that is really improving," Blazer said about Drake. "How will we respond?
"Drake takes a more direct approach than us. They will get the ball to the side and then kick it in."
The Blue Demons will encounter a hot shooter on Friday as Mountaineer sophomore forward Peabo Doue scored three goals---two game-winners---in victories last week over Cal State Fullerton and previously unbeaten James Madison.
Doue's four goals and two assists head an offense that has outscored its opponents 10-7, outshot them 90-54 and has a commanding 40-20 advantage in shots on goal.
If Doue is indeed West Virginia's closer, then the set-up man is Uwem Etuk with his four assists. Abel Sebele has three assists and leads the team with 24 shots.
The Mountaineers will be shooting for their fourth-straight win on Friday.
"It's a challenge going on the road against a very good West Virginia team," Blazer said. "They have a big, natural-grass field, and it's a tough place to play."