The day after the 3-1 loss, the boys were back to business with a 3:00 PM matchup against the VH Cougars. This team was interesting to watch during the pregame warmups. Their focus was on ensuring discipline in their offensive attack, using the wings to take the ball up the field and give an effective centering pass. I knew that this team was going to challenge our defense.
Before the game, The wing midfielders and strikers looked like they needed a little pregame pep talk. I reminded these boys that if they work together through the passing game, the offense was going to be strong. They needed to remember the discipline of using the pass before taking on an army of defenders. Trust one another, and good things will happen.
In the first half, the boys were in good form offensively. They had a few early scoring opportunities but the result was not there. In transition, the Cougars played the game just as we expected. At the 6th minute, they broke the scoreless tie with the first goal of the game. This woke up the offense and the wing midfielders and strikers began to settle into a rhythm. In the 9th minute, Markie launched a corner kick to the top of the key where Matthew controlled the ball and fed Aryan a short cross which he put into the back of the net to tie the game. The offense continued the attack and created three free kick opportunities in the Cougars half of the field. Markie took the first kick from 15 yards out and sailed the ball over the post. He then took the next two from 30 yards out and found the back of the net. Matthew added his second assist of the game when he put a shot on goal from the top of the key and then redirected in by Ben.
The halftime score was 4-1.
Usually, the boys are geared up in the 2nd half. On this day, things were different. The Cougars were not intimidated at all by the score of the game. They came out in the 2nd half and applied a lot of pressure on our defense. This effort broke down and confused our defense and they were able to close the gap to 4-3 by the 38th minute. I made a wholesale substitution and put in a fresh defense and gave Tommy and Graham a breather. We needed to take back that momentum at this time and the boys answered the call. Moments later Matthew received the ball at the top of the key, made a nice little juke move on the defender and blasted a shot into the back of the net with his left foot.
In the final 10 minutes, the boys looked beyond exhausted. In the defense, they looked to just clear the ball every time it was in their territory. The midfielders were cramping up and the strikers had zero speed.
The final score was 7-3.
The boys still managed to put in two more goals before the end of the
game and the result as favorable, but there was a lot to take away from this game for Wednesday's
practice. The boys looked to use the kick-and-run far too often to attack the opposing offense. This style of offense rarely works at this level and will never work as theses boys get older. In practice, we will go outside (finally) and go back to working on the possession game out of the backfield and better discipline the offensive transition. I want to see a lot more movement to the midfielders in transition and pass with purpose to the strikers for the scoring chances. This will take time, but I hope that the progress surfaces before the season's end.