Tough loss, lessons to learn

Kentucky followed a 3-0 loss to Florida last Friday with a 4-2 win over Alabama on Sunday. Courtesy of UK Athletics

The way last weekend played out was not exactly the way I had imagined. Even so, there’s a lesson to be learned with every game you play. In the case of our 3-0 loss to Florida, multiple lessons.

We honestly played as if we had never played soccer in our entire lives. Details were forgotten, we played scared, and just did not do the work. When I say do the work, we did not even run and give our full effort.

There has been a common theme in our three losses this season, one being that the other team flat runs more than us. The second is that we have not learned to dig ourselves out of a deficit.

If you were to ask me five qualities that make up a championship team, those would be two on the list. The fact that those are places we need to pick up slack is not something a coach can fix. That comes through leadership and internal motivation.

After a long talk with Ashley VanLandingham and Kayla King (the other two captains besides myself), we decided it was time to set the tone for this team. The fact that we had let our team get into such a state of complacency is on us, and we were going to make sure that was not the case for the next game against Alabama.

The morning after our Florida game we pulled the team together for a captains’ training session. We addressed them with the non-negotiable features in this program, then began a short, yet intense session, where we demanded nothing less than excellence.

Absolutely nothing is given to anyone in the UKWS program. It is all earned, and every player on this team can back that statement. With an all-business attitude we hopped on the plane and headed to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to get the job done.

Before the match, our coach gave us two goals to meet before halftime -- 10 shots and five corners.

Not even five minutes into the game the whistle was blown for a PK in the box, making the game instantly 1-0 Alabama. But we fought back to gain a 3-1 lead in the first half and came into the locker room meeting every goal that was asked of us. We persevered through a deficit, out-worked them, got more than 10 shots and more than five corners.

It is amazing how people respond when you push them to be their best every minute of the game. We wrapped the game up with a 4-2 win.

The adversity we overcame Sunday was phenomenal, but it doesn’t take away from the game we had against Florida. I know it is going to sit in the back of everyone’s head for the rest of year, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. That might just be that extra bit of motivation we needed to kick-start the engine that was dying. We are ready to face this weekend with a full tank of gas and full steam ahead.