With the 2013 spring soccer season in the books, FullertonTitans.com caught up with head men's soccer coach Bob Ammann to talk about some of the things the Titans were able to accomplish during the spring and what Fullerton soccer fans can expect from this team come the fall.
The Titans ended the 2012 fall campaign with a trip to the Big West Tournament semifinals, as they finished second in the Big West South, with a 4-5 conference mark and an overall record of 8-12-1.
FullertonTitans.com: What were some of your goals and what was your overall assessment of the spring season?
Coach Ammann: The number one priority of the spring season was to make it extremely challenging. From getting the guys in the weight room at 6:00 in the morning to the competition that we played, it all was used to push these guys.
The beauty of this spring was the fact that we played a number of teams that we would normally not play or see; from professional teams to foreign teams. So obviously the games themselves were a little bit premature from an ideal situation, but the experience I felt was extraordinary. I thought the performances all and all, were very, very good. The results, which were somewhat to be expected, did not change over the course of the spring, but how we played in those games was exciting for me.
The majority of the games, we would dominate for good portions of it, but because of our numbers and fatigue, we would falter in the last 10 minutes or so, and that was generally why the result didn't favor us at the end of the day. Not looking too much into that, there were periods within our games in which we played, very, very well, which leads me to be optimistic when looking ahead to the fall.
FullertonTitans.com: After watching the guys play throughout the spring, has there been a particular player or group of players you feel benefited or grew up the most this spring?
Coach Ammann: I think there were two guys that really benefited from the spring season. One was Adam Zepeda. Last year in the fall he came in as the number one guy, but because of his rust, he didn't play in any games for over a year and his performances just weren't what I expected, or he expected. The spring has really been good for him and his performances are now more on par for what I expected last fall.
Another guy who I thought really benefited from the spring season, and we benefited as a coaching staff, was Colin Okirie. We played Colin in the midfield a lot last fall, just because that's where he had played most of his life. This spring we tried him up top, and we found it was really a perfect fit. He will more than likely be playing up top for us in the fall, and I thought this spring was just huge for him to get that experience up there, and for us as a coaching staff to see him there. During the fall season, you don't usually have the time to experiment because the season is so result driven. In the spring, results aren't really all that important, so we were able to do some different things out there.
FullertonTitans.com: Spring training is much different than the fall, and quite frankly probably isn't always as fun. As you've already mentioned you've tried to make this spring even tougher than you usually would. Do you feel like the guys have bonded closer together because of it?
Coach Ammann: I think any time you have to wake up at 5:00 in the morning, something is happening. The nice thing about it is, everyone has bought in. There hasn't been any kind of whining or moping, or anything like that. To me, that's a very good sign, and really just says a lot about the group we have going into next year.
Only two of the guys we have this spring are true freshman. The maturity of the group is just really impressive, which is why the coaching staff was able to throw them in the harsh conditions we did this spring.
FullertonTitans.com: Now that the spring season has come to an end, how do you guys as a unit take what you accomplished during your time together and make sure it translates into the fall season?
Coach Ammann: It's going to have to be a lot of individual stuff the guys work on. It's really just about repetition with most of this stuff. Generally when you're playing games, you don't have the time to work on all of this technique and individual stuff time and time again. So even though the spring games are over, these guys still have plenty they'll be able to work on.
The difficulty of any fall season is bringing in all the new players and trying to get them acclimated fairly quickly, but the beauty of our team is that a lot of these guys aren't true freshman. Some of these guys are coming from other places and they already have been around and are a little bit more mature.
FullertonTitans.com: What were the differences between this spring season and others you've seen in the past with this program?
Coach Ammann: We weren't concerned about the results. A lot of times in the spring you want to make sure you get some wins so that players get some confidence, because if they're just getting beat up and not having success on the field, usually their confidence isn't going to be that high.
This group here is different though. Their confidence isn't determined by results. For these guys it's more just about getting experience, so by putting them in situations they can grow from. This group has the ability to differentiate between the growth and the result.
FullertonTitans.com: What are your expectations for this team in the fall?
Coach Ammann: My expectations are to win, quite simply. My plan for the spring was to make the environment more challenging than normal. It was also just to challenge the guys in general and get them out of their comfort zone.
We showed last year we could play with anybody. We beat two teams that were in the final eight of the NCAA Tournament last year. So the success and the quality is there, it's just a matter of being consistent and we're hopeful that the conditions we put these guys through in the spring builds their mental toughness, builds their psychical toughness, and most importantly builds their confidence to go out and execute on a consistent basis."