We started our U-14 spring soccer season today. I was a little worried going into the game. We havent had a lot of practice and have never had a full team at practice. We had only one sub today and were missing one of our better players. I had several girls in different positions and a goalie that hasnt played since last spring. So my concerns were justified.
I have stuck with a 3-2-2 formation. I believe a strong defense will lead to solid offense. We play a possession game and use a short, quick passing attack. This is the first time we have had defenders bringing the ball up when they won it, caused a little indigestion. We also began incorporating the crossfield pass, only used once today. We are playing even more aggressively defensively this year. I am lucky as a coach to have a great group of girls.
First quarter started with them kicking off. First several minutes were a bit sloppy, both teams equally missing on passes. They started to control the ball. We were strong, forcing them to the outside, but their girl broke our defender down with a nice dribble move and put the ball just over the outstretched hand of our goalie. GOAL!!! That put them up 1-0. The rest of the quarter was back and forth, although the momentum seemed to be moving toward us. They had 2 shots on goal to our 1. 1-0 after the first quarter.
I let the girls know that I was proud of them whatever the outcome. I told them to play our game and we can compete with anyone. We started the Second quarter with the ball. Our passing attack looked great. We had 2 early shots, both nice stops by their goalie. Our defense was incredible, stopping their build-up, starting ours, cutting off their attack and getting in front of the ball. Our defender won the ball on the sideline, passed it to our mid, who one touched to our forward. Our forward used a nice hesitation move to beat her man, then passed to the other forward, who hit an immediate give and go. Our forward faked one more girl out and deeked the goalie. GOAL!!!!! We tied it up at 1-1. We really dominated the ball from then on. About a minute later we had a great buildup, 4 passes to move it into the box, or forward shot, it bounced off the goalie. Forward got it again, shot again, bounced off the goalie to our mid, who basically dribbled it in. GOAL!!!!!! We were now up 2-1. We had 5 shots on goal to their 2. Momentum seemed to be on our side.
Third quarter started with them kicking off. It was pretty uneventful for about 4 minutes. Then we broke out, shot, had it blocked, shot again and it went just wide. We were clicking on all cylinders, when we made a bad pass at midfield. They got an open run, which our defenders worked hard to shut down. The defender got her foot on the ball as the girl kicked it. The ball went high, landed, took an odd bounce and GOAL!!! It was tied 2-2. We had another break where we got 2 shots and went just wide. Otherwise our defense played well and our offense was moving the ball well. We had 4 shots on goal to their 3. It was tied 2-2 after 3 quarters.
We started the fourth quarter off with the ball. These girls were tired, but theirs were worse off. Our defense played spectacular and our offense was wearing them down. Both sides had several break aways that were stopped by solid defense. We were controlling the ball, getting solid build ups, we just couldn’t finish. With about 2 minutes left one of my girls was knocked to the ground, she made sure I knew it was the third time. I told her it was part of the game, take it out on them with your play. I put in my only sub, I had to because play stopped, according to the ref. The girl I put in then stopped an attack and placed a perfect pass to start a buildup. The buildup was stopped when they kicked it out of bounds. On our throw in, I put the girl who got hurt in. She received beautiful throw, dribbled down the field, took a shot from just outside the box, GOAL!!!!! We were up 3-2. The other team kicked off and the whistle blew to end the game. We had 1 shot on goal and they had none. We won 3-2.
It was a great game. The refs both said how well it was played. Both teams were fundamentally sound. They said how well my girls passed, as well as how unselfish they are. I am very proud of my girls. The unsung girls played great, as did the girls who normally are relied upon. These girls really stepped up. I have people tell me that I am a good coach, but no coach is good without great kids. All the credit goes to them. It is their team and I am but a guide. It was an incredible game.