Tuesday, May 29, 2012

U17 - First game of the season

Last night, the U17 boys had their season opener at home.  The game was interesting even before the first player showed up to the field.

With a 17 player roster, the team had 11 players the entire match.  Very dangerous considering it was hot and humid and most of the players had a school practice at 2:30pm.  2 players were suspended from last season, 2 players are injured and 2 players were sick.  The U16 team was still at a tournament in Erie, PA, so there was no chance of using their boys as call-ups.

Playing with 11 players leaves your team so vulnerable: tactically, emotionally and physically.  Our opponent was Oakville SC.

I was unable to be there for the first half due to a family function.  Upon arrival, we were down 1-0.  Watching the boys, I saw that one striker was running out of steam and one of our central defenders was in discomfort (limping).  Trouble was brewing.

I was happy to see they were staying organized and playing intelligently.  The team was adapting to their partially healthy teammates and picking their punches.

We drew even off a set play.  A long ball was played wide and over the defenders.  A player hit the ball out of the air back in front of goal, where it was redirected in by our striker.

After a change in tactics and formation to further compensate for our fatigue and suffering players, one of our guys was brought down in the penalty area.  He converted the PK to go up 2-1 with a few minutes left.  The team shuffled the deck again to hold their lead and finish out the match.

There were a few times where I was worried about 17 year-old tempers hurting our team, but those incidents were quickly diffused by calmer teammates.

There are things a coach can observe and comment on after every game.  In this case, you celebrate the incredible effort and teamwork, take your 3 points and go home.  I am hoping the team uses this effort and result as a springboard to an enjoyable season.  

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