Brian Dougher, coach of the Men’s Soccer team at SMCC had a lot to say about himself and his team on Saturday’s game versus CMCC. Saturday was the final four to decide who made it to the championship game, and this is the second time that SM and CM played each other in the playoffs.
BM: Why did you become a coach?
BD: I started coaching when I started college. Coming back in the summer to coach my high school team that I played on for summer leagues. I wanted to be a teacher so this was a great way to keep in shape for the college season and to work on working with high school players. College coaching started while I was still in college. I was offered to be the coach of Illinois College Women’s soccer team while I was a 5th year senior. There was a vacancy that there wasn’t time to do a full search. I was already slated to be an unpaid assistant for the men’s side. I have always enjoyed working with players and helping them understand the bigger picture items of soccer. More than the wins and losses, but playing the game the right way. It comes from the coaches I had that took an interest in their players and made them strive to be better people
BM: How would you describe your coaching style?
BD: As you know from playing for me, I am big on the socratic method. Questioning for understanding. Challenging them to think of better options and have the confidence to use those decisions. I also try to motivate internally. If a player wants to be better, then the team will be better. At SMCC, it is blending all kinds of people to focus on a common goal. I do try to get to know every player on a level that is more than on the field. This season has been a bit more of a challenging coming into the season with practically a new team and no assistant coach. I like the challenge but there are areas that have not gotten as much attention as I usually give and one is building better relationships with each player.
BM: How do you and your team feel about Saturday’s game and how much it means to you?
BD: The Conference Tournament is always an exciting event. One game determines whether you go on. Some teams work well on being lucky and moving on. This year will be very interesting. No one team is a stand out this season. Every team at the tournament has a chance. I think we are peaking at the right time so we will see. I always believe we have a chance to win. These are just a game to me. I want to see the excitement of achievement for the players. They have worked to get to this point.
BM: What formation do you plan on using against CMCC and why?
BD: We will flow between a 4-4-2 and 3-5-2. Controlling the midfield will be important for our success. We have other items in our arsenal that we can pull out and use like catenaccio or 3-4-3.
BM: What skills does your team possess that led up to the playoffs? (With returners/new players)
BD: Resilience. We seem to be able to bounce back from mistakes and get things done. We have played with every team on our schedule except one (UMFK who are really good). Our current roster only has 2 players from the 2019 SMCC Team but we also have some mature players that transferred in and a good crop of new players.
BM: Can you explain in detail what your typical practice will be like?
BD: It hasn’t really changed much from when you played.
Light jog around the field to get the blood flowing, Dynamic stretching, Isometric touches (20 on the right, 20 left, 20 on each side), some form of small sided drill like 5v2, moving into a larger possession drill like the 2 teams versus 1, Work on the tactical idea of the day like the Plus 1 drill or running routes for crosses/shots, then some bigger picture exercises like 6 on 4 attacking the goal, and end with the team’s favorite activity of 50/100s. Team chat at the end with reminders.
BM: How has practice been like this week leading up to Saturday’s game?
BD: Pretty good. The goal of this week was to keep things crisp but not have any player injured so I couldn’t use them this weekend. This group is a bit laid back when it comes to personality so I am not worried about being too unfocused.
The game took place at NHTI in Concord, NH. These two teams played each other 2 years ago in the playoffs but this is a brand new season with brand new players, so it will be exciting to see who comes out on top.
One day after the Final Four game, SM suffers a crucial loss, ending their season. This team isn’t done, they will be there again next year!