This article is part of the USA Women's Eagles Final in '14 blog. All entries are written exclusively by members of the women's national team.
British Columbia has been a difficult place for my coaching career, particularly against Canadian sides. It is the location that I have experienced two of my worst losses as a coach. There is Tuesday’s 51-7 loss and there is 2006. That year, during the NA 4 Championships, I was coach of the USA Hawks side, whom lost 96-0 to Canada West.
In both cases we had an inexperienced team that was out-played by a more experienced and faster team. In 2006, following the loss, the Hawks rebounded to beat the Falcons in our next match – and the three days we had between matches were some of the best moments of my career and is something I’m looking to replicate here. We have had three days before facing Canada again.
On the exterior, the Tuesday’s loss is a bad look for the program and seems as if we are heading in the wrong direction. For me, the rest of the coaching staff, and the players, the outcome does certainly make everyone reflect deeply about our goals, but it does not change them. We may alter how we get to that goal, but we remain firm in our approach.
Just as in 2006, we have our philosophy and we know what we want to do as we build towards our next goal – in the current case our goal is much larger than then - the World Cup.
For Tuesday, we understood the challenges that the program faced coming on the Can-Am trip, however, as a staff we did not expect the outcome of the first game. But that is a great challenge for all members of the team in moving forward.
While we can point to Canada utilizing seven of the 7s team members to play at a pace that we could not keep up with, our roster and mentality was much different from when we beat them in August. From last summer, we handled Canada by denying them time and space, but this team with nine different starters, did not match the intensity we had then.
It is interesting to experience the staff’s response to the loss. We try to handle it by staying positive, but that can sometimes turn into “gallows humor.” We joke about previous losses we have experienced as players and coaches, because if we do not laugh we would be struggling.
This time we have taken a hard look at our preparation and have done some hard reflection. We expected the team to retain more than they did on our fundamental strategies, while we introduced some new approaches. It was too much for the team to digest in such a short time and it showed on the pitch. The next couple of days we will go back to some of our basic approaches and address some of the challenges we identified in game 1. From here, we are looking forward to redemption in game 2.