Booters aren't looking past Pittsburgh tonight

Eric Yoder
Date Published: 
Daily Collegian

Forward Ray Patrick and his booter teammates will try to avoid the lackadaisical play of their most recent win when they face Pittsburgh at 7 tonight at Jefferey Field. The Lions enter the contest with a 10-2 record.

At this point in the season, the soccer team should be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The problem is that there is still a light behind the booters, chasing them at a high rate of speed.

Walt Bahr's troops have exceeded his expectations so far, winning 10 of 12 games, including all six at home by shutouts. With the two final games at home, including tonight's against Pitt on Jeffrey Field at 7 p.m., a good seed in the playoffs is seemingly assured.

But there is no rest with a schedule like theirs. No time to reflect on past glories. No time to relax and tune up for the playoffs.

"Fourteen games is not a soccer season," Bahr said of his teams' non-season. "Forty games is a soccer season. You have to play every game like it's a championship, even this late in
the season.

"If we win both of these last two games, we'll be in first place in our section (which is where they are now). If we drop one or both, we may be hanging on ourselves for a bid."

The Lions hung on last year and got a bid with a 10-3-1 record then were promptly drubbed by Philadelphia Textile in the first playoff game. They won nine of the first ten but finished the regular season 1-2-1 and lost their momentum in the process. There is little chance of that happening again, but Bahr saw some bad omens in the 5·1 victory at Shippensburg Friday.

"We played with very little spirit on Friday," Bahr said. "Actually, we didn't start to play good soccer until they scored their goal. Then we came to life and played pretty well for about 20

"But it was a poor effort for a good portion of the game. We weren't marking tightly, we were careless with the ball. It was a lackluster game -- we were very flat."

This is not the time of year to get flat, especially with the need to win the last two games to get the all-important home field advantage in the playoffs.

"One of the things that makes a team good is not letting down against a mediocre team. Shippensburg and Pitt are teams that we should beat," Bahr said."It's an intangible that can happen in every sport. You come out flat and never get going. That's what happened to us last year. I hope it doesn't happen again. We're doing everything we can to see that it doesn't.

"We were able to benefit from last year's collapse. The kids are hungry. They realize the position we're in. They know we can't look past Pitt and Temple to the playoffs."

Two more things working against the Lions, ranked sixth nationally, are the unknown quantity that is Pitt (6-5·1) and a poorly-timed rash of injuries.

"I don't know anything about Pitt," Bahr said. "When we played Bucknell, they said Pitt was the best team they had played before us. They play good defense, but they've always had trouble, finding someone who can score."

And the injuries -- all to an ankle -- of Bill Klauberg, Rich Reice and Sal Bommarito. All are questionable. All are starters and have had good seasons so far.

"It's important to keep everyone healthy. That's how you have good seasons," Bahr said. "This is a heck of a time to start getting injuries."