By William Qualkinbush
CLEMSON — Eddie Radwanski is trying to keep a level head when discussing the Clemson women’s soccer team this season. But at the same time, he wants his team to enjoy a pair of preseason wins that have infused optimism into a young group teeming with confidence.
“We want to use this youthful energy to our advantage. We don’t want to damper it down. This team is not going to ever think it’s the end-all.”
After a 6-1 shellacking of Western Carolina on Wednesday, the Tigers dropped Alabama 1-0 on an improbable goal with two seconds left. As Historic Riggs Field debuted a new and improved video board, Radwanski’s team debuted a new attitude of its own in front of the home crowd.
“We’re doing good things in the preseason. Our preparation is good. Now where does our next step go?” Radwanski asked, while eluding to the idea the building process is nowhere near complete.
Still, it is difficult to watch the Tigers without asking what might be possible this season. While not focused on the results, Radwanski says he has seen a more focused, cohesive, and together unit on the field thus far.
“You watch the preseason games trying to see what’s going well. What are the things that we need to be better at,” he said. “You put people in different positions to see how they adapt to actual game pressure.”
So far things are good for the Tigers in diametrically opposite environments. Against the Crimson Tide, Radwanski watched his team match an NCAA Tournament team from last season in effort and substance for a full game before finally breaking through to pick up the victory.
It was the kind of game the Tigers lost in years past. Radwanski notes three such instances from last season, when the Tigers had victory close at hand and let chances fall by the wayside. On Saturday, the home crowd could have seen the team turn over a new leaf for 2012.
“A lot of this game is just about confidence and belief,” Radwanski said following Saturday’s contest. “Little things like that can go a long way, especially coming from where we were. These kids have put a lot of time and effort in, and we’re just trying to take the next step with our group.”
Radwanski challenged his players to better understand how to finish off opportunities during the offseason. One who has stepped up and answered the bell is sophomore Liska Dobberstein. Her four goals set the tone against Western Carolina, and she was the only player to put the ball in the net against Alabama. Doing it with mere seconds remaining only enhanced her
profile as she looks to be a more prolific scorer and overall contributor for the Tigers.
“As coaches, you always say, ‘Play the full 90 minutes,’ Radwanski said. “You never know if you’re going to score in the first minute or the last minute.”
Beaming with pride in the immediate aftermath of the preseason victory, Radwanski is still focused on improvement as the season quickly approaches. Forgive him, though, if he smiles a little more than usual this week.