Spring 2013 Game 7

Saturday was quite the game.  The boys remembered the last time they played this
Magic City team (FYI - that score was 7-2 on the losing end).  It also marked
the day I witnessed several of the boys learn from that loss in a BIG way and
take their game to another level.  Since that game, the boys have rattled off 10
wins in their next 11 games and playing the game one step closer to the level I
expect them to reach.  That is quite the accomplishment for these boys.  A solid
outing against a talented Chicago Magic City team would further validate what it
already perceived as a successful season.

The boys started the game strong.  They looked sharp in their possession game.
During  the first 7 minutes, the boys completes 27 passes with 2 4-touch
sequences and a pretty 3-touch sequence that set up Markie's first goal.  4
minutes later, Markie connected on another goal to put the boys up 2-0.  This is
when things started turning.  Moments later, Markie had an opportunity to send
home a 3rd goal on a penalty kick.  However, he would not be so lucky.  The
Magic keeper made a great save to prevent the goal.  This changed the momentum
of the game.    When a Jorge Valle coached team gets an opportunity to get back
into the game, they are going to take it....and that is exactly what they did.
They came back with 2 goals before halftime by setting up 1v1 situations against
our defense and capitalizing on good open looks at the goal.

Halftime score:  Hawks 2 Magic 2

The second half, started  much like the first half ended.  The Magic maintained
momentum of the game with their isolation game.  Early into the 2nd half they
once again scored on a nice shot from the right side to take their first lead of
the game.  While the boys may have been feeling the heat from the weather, they
never stopped playing.  Moments later, Ben broke loose in transition from a
midfielder's through ball from Graham and finished the play with a very nice
goal into the lower right corner to tie the game again.  The rest of the half
played out very evenly.  Entering the 57th minute, the score was even at 4-4.
Both teams were battling back and forth to get that one possession that creates
the winning score.  The referee allowe the game to continue into some extra
time.  With the way all of the boys were working on both sides, a tie would have
been more than satisfying.  Such would not be the case.  About the 62nd minute
from a throw in near midfield, Graham connected with Aryan who then led Markie
moving lateral from left to right.  He made one move against a Magic defender
and sent a shot from just outside the penalty box screaming to the far back
post.  That goal put the boys up 5-4.  One minute later, the game ended.

Final score:  Hawks 5 Magic 4

Give credit to the boys on the Magic.  They played very well and were not going
to let down at any point during this game.

Lets call out some boys:

Markie - Another great game!  You have mad skills.
Ben - Very nice break-out game!  Your goal was a momentum changer.  All around,
I was proud of what you did on the day.

Marco - I asked you to fill in for Silk on defense in his absence and you
delivered.  Good work.

Up next, the boys are back on the pitch for practice on Wednesday at 6pm to
start getting ready for the rematch against this same Magic team.  It should be
another fun game.  Have a great week!    

Spring 2013 - Game 6

It was a lot of fun watching these boys come together as a team and play a solid 60 minutes of soccer and by far their best 30 minutes ever in the 1st half in which these boys were a machine.  Up front the passing game was crisp, and creative with the boys tallying two 4-touch sequences.  In the 3rd minute of the game, Graham found the back of the net off an Aryan centering pass.  Moments later, Aryan scored again unassisted as a result of winning the ball on high pressure on their defense in possession.  Tyler found his first career goal by launching a bomb from midfield.  While his intentions may have been to clear the ball, Tyler had the ultimate clear.

Possession was there.  The boys applied a ton of pressure on offense.  All was good.

Halftime score:  Hawks - 4 Fox Valley Bayern Munich - 1

In the 2nd half, things did get interesting in the backfield as Fox Valley was able to apply a lot of pressure and create many scoring chances for themselves.  Let's not forget that they still have a good front line and can do some damage if given a little seam.  Despite  the challenge, Noah, Tyler, Alex and Mateo held their ground well and made me proud of their efforts.  That said, whenever they would convert on a goal.  Our boys were able to get it right back.  Two goals were scored off corner kicks.  Tommy's header goal off Markie's corner was ridiculous and a real momentum changer.  Matthew finished the game with yet another impressive goal.

Final score:  Hawks - 8 Fox Valley Bayern Munich - 4

Let's call out some boys:

Flash and Dash (Matthew and Graham):  These two boys are a big reason the offense is so successful at attacking from the wings.  Matthew, you got game.
Tommy: Seriously, your goal was lights out.  I heard your  dad on the sideline looking for  more  freakish-like goals later in the half.
Tyler:  How can we not call out someone who scores his first career goal.  Nicely done, young man.
Voodoo Ninja:  You continue to impress on defense.

Up next, we use Wednesday's practice to prepare for the Chicago Magic.  NO PRACTICE ON SUNDAY.  Mom's deserve a break - at least from soccer.  Practice on Wednesday will be at 6pm.  We will see the boys then.

Happy Mother's Day everyone.

Spring 2013 - Game 5

Rematches are never easy.  The situation was not too favorable for our boys - travel to Vernon Hills to play a rolling Cougars team the day after a solid victory against another division foe.  On top of that, the rematch also took away the element of surprise which meant that every goal will be earned. 

That prediction did not disappoint.  In fact, the game was so intense that I lost track of the game sequences.  None the less, I will do my best.

It started out as expected.  The Cougars had a little hop in their step.  The Hawks were ready for the challenge.  It took a little bit for either team to catch the momentum.  Fortunately, our boys got it first when Markie broke loose and launch a bullet through the back of the net - literally.  He kicked it through the small hole in the back of the net.  The referee missed the call, but later changed his call to a goal after Steve "negotiated" his position on the situation.  The Hawks kept attacking. A few minutes later, Matthew broke loose for the game's second goal.  The score held that way into the 22nd minute when Alex (playing for Markie at Center defensive midfielder who was out with a shoe issue) took possession
of the ball on a short pass from Tommy and found a streaking Matthew (by streaking, I mean that he was running really fast.  Nothing more) on a nice lead pass to set up his second goal of the game.

Halftime score was Hawks 3 Cougars 1

The second half started and you could tell that the Cougars got a little pep talk.  They came out blazing.  Their passing became a lot more crisp and they set themselves up well for a lot more offense than in the first half.  Our boys bent, but they diid not break.  On defense, we were pressured more.  On offense, there was a lot less room to turn with the ball as their defense collapsed well on our strikers.  The scoring was back and forth.  The Cougars worked the ball very well with their passing game.  Our boys created some passing sequences of their own to  keep possession and create solid offensive pressure.  The Hawks were able to
add some more points on the board thanks to a 50 second scoring binge by Aryan and a capper by Graham in the later minutes of the game.  Those goals were needed as the Cougars just refused to go away. 

By the 50th minute, the Hawks were gassed.  Boys were struggling to catch their breath.  They were trying their absolute best to keep the Cougars from closing the gap.  They smelled opportunity and tried their  absolute best to capitalize on it. 

Final score:  Hawks 6 Cougars 5

Credit the Cougars.  They played a solid game and their studs Noah (#66) and Milan (#4) tried their absolute best to take over this game.  As a whole this team has something that I want our boys to have, a solid foundation for possession soccer.  They have a very high ceiling and they pay attention.  Markie's only chance for a long distance free kick was blocked by the Cougar wall. 

Let's call out some boys:

-Today's win was hard fought.  No reason to feel down about this won.  Win or lose, it was a fun game. 
- Tyler:  A little slow on the start, but in the 2nd half you made it extremely difficult for us to take you out of the game.  Solid, solid play.
- Aryan:  Much better with the passing game today in the 1st half.
- Marco:  Even though you could not play today, you still came out, supported the team and listened to instruction.  
- Matthew and Graham:  You are getting there.  Each week things look a little bit better.
- Voodoo Ninja: Your defensive ability is downright awesome. 
- Did I see two 4-touch sequences in today's ball game?  I think I did.  That is a good stat.

Up next, we have Wednesday practice at 6pm.  The focus will be on choreographing possession soccer out of the back field.  Have the boys prepared to pay attention as we will be doing a lot of dry runs to start developing the habits.  Yes, there will be a scrimmage, but only if the boys demonstrate that ability to stay focused on the Coach's instructions.

See you all on Wednesday.

Spring 2013 - Game 4

That was a bit of a nail-biter.  

When the boys got to the field, they were loose and ready to go.  The start of the game showed our boys in good rhythm and pushing the ball up the field with some consistency.  The efforts paid off early as Markie's free kick on goal in the 5th minute was blocked, rebounded nicely by Graham and put in for the first score.  The Hawks made it 2-0 just moments later when Matthew did his usual thing and was able to convert on high pressure in the opposing third.  This was the difference of the game as from this point, the Palatine team woke up and began putting pressure on our defense in isolated attacks.  I will admit, this was something that I did not see coming.  The scoring was back and forth.  They transitioned up the middle a lot and were able to create clean looks on goal.  Our boys continued to counter-attack, creating free kick opportunities in the middle third of the field.  Markie would put it home on the set piece.  At halftime, the score was 5-3 in our favor.

The  second half was more of the same.  Give credit to the boys on defense they played well against the Celtics press.  Their bend-don't-break approach was enough to get the job done.  The final score was 7-4.

Gotta hand it to them.  The team from Palatine really kept the pedal down and gave our boys a run for the money.  They transitioned out of defense well and were able to create some good looks on goal, converting on a high percentage of chances.

While there were several coaching opportunities that came out of this game, there were a lot of positives to take out of this one.

- I am seeing a lot more possession in the midfield than just 4 weeks ago.  With all seven goals coming from midfielders, this is a good sign that things are going in the right direction.
- Marco.  Nicely done!  You are impressive.
- The strikers were limited on their shot opportunities, I was pleased with their ability to consistently pressure the opposing defense.
- Markie's ability to score on free kicks from 25-30 yards out is flat out amazing.  His skill from long range (and make it look easy) is something that is not common at this age.
- I am sending a shout out to my own son today.  Alex's game this season has been solid.  He is doing a great job in not only defending the ball, but being able to control it, have the patience to look at his surroundings and make a good pass to the midfield to start the transition.

Up next, we have the final game of the "4 games in 9 days" marathon.  The game is at Vernon Hills. After last week's game, they will be gunning for us with a more aggressive game plan.  Time to get ready.

We will go with the all white uniforms.  Game time is at 5:30PM.  Be there at 5pm.