Spring 2013 Season - Game 1

It has been 5 months since the boys last played an outdoor soccer game.  We move up two Divisions in the off-season.  Our first opponent (Fox Valley Bayern Munich) was an incumbent Division 2 team familiar with the style of play that is required at this level.  Finally, we all had to commute 45 miles each way just to get to the game.  Steve, Edwin and I agreed that this situation required a lot of mental preparation prior to the game.  We warmed the boys up with the usual regimen of 4v1 monkey in the middle to get the passing game tuned up.  Then followed that up with a scrimmage.  At first, things did not go as planned.  In fact, things went the way I had feared.  I put the boys through a brief session of "tough love".  They had to be reminded of what was ahead of them and that is was time to get their heads in the game.

We started the game a little flat.  Fox Valley Bayern Munich immediately took control, making crisp passes and moving the ball at will through their disciplined passing game.  This was the tempo of the game for about the first 15 minutes when they finally capitalized with a very nice one touch goal from their striker (named Arian) taken off a cross from their 2nd best player (named Noah).  That was the moment that our boys kicked things up a gear.  The defense, already at a solid level, stepped up their game even more.  Midfielders began to possess the ball more and use the pass to move the ball up the field.  The strikers finally kept their position and stretched the field vertically with the mere threat of their existence.  For the next 45 minutes, and especially in the 2nd half, the boys went back to business as usual, locked down their offense to just a few shots on goal, wore down their defense and finished the game with a 4-1 victory. 

Let's look at the highlights:
  • Our defense carried the team to victory yesterday.  Tyler, Noah, Alex and Mateo were all solid today.  In fact, they are solid always.  They had a tall task of neutralizing Fox Valley Bayern Munich's talented front line and did an outstanding job.  Their play was the key to the game.  Excellent, excellent work boys...ALWAYS! 
  • The passing game looked very good today.  Sure, they missed on a number of passes, but that is far better than not trying to pass at all.  Kudos to Markie in quarterbacking the transition game, avoiding the kick-and-run and setting up great lead passes to the wing midfielders and the strikers. 
  • I was also pleased with how the forwards and midfielders worked together.  Matthew's lead pass in transition to Aryan that set up the first goal was outstanding.  Matthew, Aryan and Graham then later set up a sequence of passes (also in transition) that nearly set up another breakaway goal.  Regardless, it was beautiful.  The combination of good passing and athleticism wore down their defense.  By the end, our boys were in charge of the tempo of the game. 
  • Tommy, Ben.  Both of you were awesome in goal.  You made some great stops. 
FACT:  Did you know that this is the first game that we allowed less than 2 goals in a game? 

I enjoy games like this a lot.  The boys played well enough to beat a quality opponent, but the game provided several coaching opportunities for the next practice.  Unfortunately, we only have one practice to prepare for the Vernon Hills Cougars, another Division 2 incumbent.  You all have seen the video of this team.  The scouting report suggests that our team defense will be put to the test again, but like I tell the boys.  Play our game and we win.  Play their game and we lose. 

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