Garrett Halfhill and the rest of the Musketeers will look to build upon 2012's success.
June 11, 2013
CINCINNATI- The Xavier University Mens soccer team recently concluded its 2013 spring season. The spring slate, used as a tuneup for its inaugural BIG EAST campaign, was the program's toughest ever. In addition to Bowling Green and Canada's AJAX U17 squad, the Musketeers faced 2012 national champion Indiana, Elite 8 participant Louisville, Sweet 16 member Akron, and the 2012 NCAA tournament's number one overall seed, Notre Dame.
"We graduated a 14-goal scorer along with three backs and goalkeeper who had started 55-straight games together. At first, I was worried that we were a bit over our heads with the schedule, yet we did well, learned quite a bit and used some of our failures to learn lessons and answer questions.
After tying Bowling Green 1-1 in its first match, Xavier then went on the road and earned back-to-back 1-0 shutout wins over Louisville and Indiana. The IU result avenged the season-ending loss to the Hoosiers in the Second Round of the NCAA tournament this past fall. After a 2-0 road setback to Akron, the Musketeers returned home and earned a 4-0 result over AJAX U17's and finished with a 5-2 loss to Notre Dame.
"For me, the Akron showing was disappointing, but not surprising after the IU and Louisville results," said Fleming. "Our younger guys maybe didn't have any struggles per se and might have taken their foot off the pedal and I think it was actually good to get outclassed the way we did at Akron."
"The first half against Notre Dame was as well as we've played since I've been here and we took a 2-1 lead into halftime," stated Fleming. "However, they subbed their entire 10-man lineup and kept a high tempo, ultimately outlasting us in the second half. This bad taste in our mouth will remain through the summer and can serve as a motivator and reminder for many of our guys who haven't been through the grind or had only known success thus far."
Amongst the highlights and areas of emphasis for Xavier were the battle for the starting goalkeeper spot, the emergence of Rhodes Moore and Owen Steinwall on the backline and a returning five man midfield. The Musketeers fought injuries all spring and rarely had their full lineup at training and in games.
"We learned that we need to be a hybrid of 2010 Xavier and 2012 Xavier," said Fleming. "At times, we will out-will teams and hang on and also then be able to run and gun and play great soccer. We saw a little of both with the demands of each opponent."
For the second year in a row Xavier hosted the Down syndrome Awareness Classic with Notre Dame as the opponent. "Over 1300 fans attended, breaking the single game attendance mark and raising over $8,000 for Devin's team, a foundation named for Coach Flemings daughter," said marketing director Brian Hicks.
"If there was a spring NCAA tournament, I say we are in with our RPI and two quality wins," Fleming said. "That's how our path will be in the Fall, with such a deep schedule and conference. We've never really had a sparkling spring since I've been here, as evidenced by last year when we went winless in our final three spring and first three Fall games before going on the run we did. I'd rather fail a little, learn, grow and find some things out in the spring. Those last four games were heavyweight fights every weekend, which is what well see in the Fall. Without question, we got what we wanted out of the spring."