Wings begin final stretch trying to reach .500

02/17/2012 5:00 AM

02/18/2012 12:10 AM

The Wings are out of the Major Indoor Soccer League playoff picture, but even in spite of several close losses that would have improved postseason chances, coach LeBaron Hollimon isn’t looking back.

He’s not let himself look ahead to next season, either. Hollimon and the Wings are in the moment, trying to win their last six games, all against Eastern Division opponents — including tonight against Rochester at Hartman Arena — to finish with a winning record.

If they can pull that off, the Wings will finish 13-11 and could tie Missouri for second in the West. But the Comets own the tiebreaker, and they mathematically eliminated Wichita by beating Milwaukee last weekend.

"I’m not looking back," Hollimon said. "It does give you a standpoint of what you need to work on moving forward. Now, the focus is on finishing the season out positive. That’s what the focus is. We want a winning record, and that’s something that we can control."

The Wings don’t have a game left against divisional opponents Milwaukee and Missouri, but it was a stretch against those teams that did the most damage to their playoff aspirations.

The Wings played eight straight intradivision games, and nine of 10 overall, between Dec. 16 and Dec. 16 and Feb. 10. They finished 3-6 in those games, failing to make up ground on Missouri or trim the lead of Milwaukee, which leads the MISL with a 16-3 record.

The Wings (7-11) can finish well, with five games left against teams with losing records, but the recently concluded two-month portion of the schedule will more accurately tell the story of the season.

"When we looked at the schedule, we looked at that point at the end of December and January as a defining point of our season," Hollimon said. "And it was. That was when we played (Missouri) and Milwaukee all those times. We knew that coming in, and things didn’t work out like we hoped they would."

The final games also might not provide additional answers for Hollimon about what changes to make to the roster for 2012-13.

The Wings have lost eight games by three points or less, probably indicating they’re one or two players away from contention rather than four or five.

"An overhaul is definitely not what we need," Hollimon said. "We’ve competed well and we’ll compete better next year. You look at our young guys ... they’ve been in a position where they’re relied upon and they’ve never had that maturation process. Overhaul is definitely not a word we would use to describe what we’re doing in the future."

Wichita has seemed to have the future in mind with its most recent roster moves. The Wings signed rookies Kareem Yearwood and Max Touloute, who became the third Wichita player born in 1990.

The team also brought in veteran Angel Ruiz Rivillo, a 33-year-old who has totaled eight points in his first two games, including a pair of three-point goals.

"He’s one we’re going to sit down with and see what kind of longevity we can get out of him in the next few years," Hollimon said. "He’s a good as what everybody sees. There’s no honeymoon period with him, what you see is what you’re getting. He’s quality."

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