On Saturday, we played the Inferno in Bastrop. This was the same team that we beat 5-2 the previous Saturday and it was a bit odd having to play them again so close after the original game. Just the way the scheduling happened to work out.
Both Ian and Miguel were not available leaving us with two subs so we decided that we would play somewhat as we lined up last week with Alex sweeping, Normie at half back and Leo at forward with the others filling in around them. It worked well for us and we played the best football that we have ever played moving the ball around, getting into spaces and generally working hard for each other. We scored four unanswered goals from four different players and with a little luck, it could have been more. Jack, in-goal, had very little to do.
The second half proved to be a little different. For some reason which I think was mainly due to the other team pressing us much harder, we could not play the same as we did in the first half. We still dominated the game but we weren’t making the goal chances as before and did not add to our score. Jack miscalculated a long clearance from the other keeper and the ball bounced over his head and into the goal. A bit like the goal that Jack scored in the fall against the same team on the same ground.
The final score was 4-2 in our favor and we were the deserved winners. Following the game, the whole team (and me) gathered at a place called the Roadhouse across from Bastrop Park entrance. It had a lot of character and when we finally got it, the food was good. The only complaint was the time it took to both order and then be served. If I had been drinking, I would have had a real buzz on by the time we got to the food. Good job I don’t drink anymore.
On Sunday, we travelled to Pflugerville to play the Cougars who have probably the best player in our age group on their team. This young man has both skills, size and a very hard shot and is real hard to contain. We devised a plan whereby the Mauro boys would take turns in man-marking this player and sometimes both of them were tackling him at the same time. It was a good contest between them and the honors were pretty even throughout the game. We were unable to stop the Cougar player from scoring a couple of goals. It was interesting to watch as the Mauro boys were attempting to play in a way that we had not really worked on. Most teams defend by zone where if an opponent comes into your area, he is yours to mark and tackle. Man marking requires that you stay with that player and go everywhere he goes and not give him time on the ball. This also means that we have effectively reduced our player count to six on the field although, by the same token, so has the opposition.
We did not play as well as we had on Saturday mainly due to the other team being more skilful and hustled more to throw us off our rhythm. We did not have any time on the ball. Cougars scored either four or five goals in the first half. We had one really brilliant play when Ian took the ball down the left side beating two or three of their players with his speed and then crossing the ball for Hank to volley it home. It really was well worked and a thing of beauty but alas turned out to be our only scoring effort although we did come close on several occasions. We always seem to want one more touch on the ball before shooting and by that time, our players were closed down. Obviously, something else to work on.
The second half was a much more even game and we gave as good as we got for most of the time. They scored one more goal when Jack fumbled a hard shot that went into the goal and the final score (I think) was 5-1. In my opinion, we gave a very good account of ourselves against the team that overall will finish second to the Elgin Pumas.
Our final record for the season is 4 wins, 2 ties and 4 losses and all 4 losses were against the Pumas and Cougars. By my reckoning we scored 20 goals and let in 37. Oh well…
We held both a Player meeting and a Parent meeting at the end of the game. I talked briefly to the boys about the season and a little bit about the try-outs that are upcoming and tried to impress on them the necessity for them to continue to train hard in order to get selected. I warned them that selection is not automatic and that the Club is looking to form three teams in this age group and that some of them would end up on the third team, depending on the talent that comes to the try-outs.
Cristina and I moved over to the Parents and I thanked them for their support to both Cristina as Manager and myself. I also made a point of thanking Cristina as without her, this season would not have gone so smoothly.
I took time to explain the Club’s thinking in trying to form three teams as this coming year will be our last playing 8v8. The following year as U13’s, the teams will be playing 11v11 and the idea will be to form two teams out of the existing three to give us the numbers that we will need.
We have one more scrimmage next Saturday against the NASA team that always manages to beat us. The boys are really up for it and are ready to have a real go at them this time and to show them just how much we have improved.