Aug. 18, 2011
CLEMSON, SC – As his tenure as Clemson women’s soccer coach reaches its first actual contest, Eddie Radwanski does not want to hear about any challenges that might be facing his team this season.
Instead, he is more interested in establishing a mentality that his squad will use to set the tone in every match it plays.
“The focus is on what we’re going to do,” Radwanski said. “That is not going to change going into (Friday). It’s about what we’re going to do and how we’re going to impact the game, and we’ll take it from there.”
Undaunted by a tough ACC schedule and the young roster handed off to him, the former UNC-Greensboro coach has spent his inaugural offseason in the program putting his players through a series of tests that he has used to analyze strengths and weaknesses.
One of his most intriguing decisions was to schedule a pair of high-quality exhibition opponents in South Florida and Alabama. The Tigers played just under a half before thunderstorms set in against the Bulls and got a chance to experience a road trip in travelling to Tuscaloosa to face the Crimson Tide.
While many coaches might have set up a situation designed to give its team prime opportunities for success, Radwanski says he learned some valuable lessons about the makeup of his team due to the difficulty of the preseason slate. During those games, some discoveries were made that otherwise would have been found out during regular season action.
“Coming out of the gate, I wanted two difficult opponents,” Radwanski said. “I needed to see where our weaknesses are. We needed to identify them, and the sooner the better. I think we’ll find that throughout our conference schedule, there will be moments where we will be tested and moments where we can hopefully be able to take over the game.”
For a man with a plan, changes to that plan can wreak havoc on progress. The weather situation that robbed his team of valuable game-like experience against USF was one of those times when the coaching staff had to get creative and adjust its best-laid plans.
“It was a bit unfortunate to lose that Friday night (against South Florida) just from the aspect of trying people at different positions,” he said. “You kind of lose that time frame, and it kind of works against you. As you proceed forward, you may have to skip a step to figure out how things are going to work.”
For Radwanski, it is full information-gathering mode with his program right now heading into the early portion of the season. He has made a habit of playing some of the toughest schedules in the country over his career so that his team gets used to playing against top competition. That philosophy has carried over to Clemson, and the benefits are already apparent.
“If you can hold yourself accountable to your preparation, to your pregame, and to your actual performance, then good things will happen,” Radwanski said. “We’re trying to establish something that is long lasting, not just for the short term. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t come out and have that intensity.”
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