Progress made in coach’s first year
November 1, 2010 —
In his first season as coach, former SVSU graduate Cale Wassermann led the Cardinals to a winning season.
It was a step in the right direction, and one that Wassermann believes will lead to future success.
“Our main goal was to improve on our record from last season,” he said. “We nearly doubled our win total so it was a good start.”
In 2009, the Cardinals finished 5-11-3 overall and 1-6-1 in GLIAC play. With a 1-0 win Saturday against Urbana, the Cardinals finished 2010 9-6-3 overall and 4-5-3 in conference play.
In order to achieve success, Wassermann knew the Cardinals would have to decrease the number of red and yellow flags they received. They did just that, getting 17 fewer yellow flags and five fewer red flags than in 2009.
“There was a little bit of a discipline issue that we addressed and made sure wouldn’t be a problem,” Wassermann said. “We did a great job of improving in that area.”
Despite the improvement, the Cardinals were unable to achieve their other major goal of qualifying for the GLIAC tournament. The top four teams in the conference qualify and the Cardinals tied with Northwood, who advanced on a tiebreaker.
“For some people, we probably had a successful season but more improvement still needs to be made,” he said.
Wassermann said setting unrealistic goals will ultimately lead to the Cardinals achieving those goals.
“We wanted to win the national championship this season which was probably a little far-fetched,” he said. “We will continue to set the bars high and not give ourselves easy targets.”
With only three seniors, Wassermann said leadership lacked at times. However, as the season progressed, other players stepped up and helped take over a leadership role.
“Piotr Kazmierczak and Anthony Palazzolo were our leaders on the field,” Wassermann said of his senior goalkeeper and senior forward. “We had younger guys like (sophomore defender) Zach Myers and (sophomore midfielder) Robert Short also step up and provide leadership.”
The Cardinals got off to a slow start by losing three of their first five games. Wassermann credited that mainly to the young team transitioning from high school to college.
“We lost some close games when we couldn’t figure out how to win at this level,” he said.
After the slow start, SVSU responded with a seven-game unbeaten streak, starting with a 2-1 win over Tiffin on Sept. 17. Ohio Dominican ended the unbeaten streak Oct. 10 with a 2-0 victory over the Cardinals.
“Once the streak started, it was like guys suddenly figured out what it takes to keep balls out of the back of the net and compete at this level,” Wassermann said. “It was a confidence booster.”
The streak came to a crashing halt when numerous injuries forced Wassermann to play players out of position on a team already lacking in depth.
“When guys started getting hurt, we just didn’t have a big enough roster to fill the holes,” he said. “When the streak ended, that was the turning point for us health-wise because we had so many guys go down with injuries.”
Cardinals that suffered injuries included sophomore defender Taylor Clarke, whose season came to an end with an ankle injury. Myers went through a bout with a hamstring injury and freshman midfielder Conor Reaume battled ankle injuries to both ankles to name a few.
With consecutive 3-0 losses to Ashland and Tiffin, Wassermann said the outcomes weren’t as bad as the score indicated.
“We played one of our best games against Ashland but they did a good job of taking advantage of their opportunities,” he said. “It wasn’t like we were dominated in either game.”
With a large number of the team returning in 2011, Wassermann is excited for what the future holds.
“We lost some games this season that had as many upperclassmen as we did underclassmen,” he said. “Those will reverse next season which will give us a good chance to fight for a GLIAC championship.”