Today we played a game at Quarry. The first game in a couple of weeks because of the Easter break. We managed to train this week but as is usually the case after a lay off, on Tuesday, the boys were a little excited and hard to manage as they had so much excess energy to get rid of. What better place than a soccer field and a ball to whack the heck out of…
The team we played was aptly named “Inferno” as they were from Bastrop. I am sure the team came before the great fire and there is no real connection other than coincidence. Very fitting though. Their coach and I struck up a conversation and I thought he seemed familiar. Turns out that he and I played on the same Over 30 mens team in years gone by. Small world.
We went through our warm up procedure as we usually do and generally, I use this time to evaluate just how concentrated we are before the game and then try to address it accordingly which is exactly what I ended up doing today. After we had gone on a run and then through our dynamics, it was obvious that some of the boys were not with the program so I called them together and we had a serious talk about their readiness to play or rather, their lack of it. This is not new to them as I have to do this a lot to get them ready.
This seemed to work as at least they tried harder than before until it was time to go to our side of the playing field. I like to walk them in double file across the field not only to continue with the process of maintaining some form of discipline but also to try to intimidate the other team and impress their parents but do you think they will stay in two lines? They are good for the first twenty steps then they begin to bunch up or overlap, anything but two lines. Oh well, at least we had it for a very little while.
Just as I predicted, the first half for us was really poor. I mean back to the basics poor. Not just one or two players but just about every single one of them had forgotten everything we have worked on since last August. Passing the ball was non existent, positional play was out the window, bunching up and every one going for the same ball became the order of the day. I tried to get them to play better but in the end I gave up as it was apparent that no instruction on my part was going to change a thing. So, apart from an occasional shout here and there, I bit my tongue and kept quiet.
By half time, the other team had scored twice and it was obvious that they were not quite as strong as our boys. That is what made it so frustrating to be losing. I let the boys chatter for a couple of minutes and then quietly told them that they had just played the worst half ever since we formed the team. I told them what I saw as the problem and asked for their feedback on how we could change the situation. It was interesting that a couple of them mentioned the talk we had during warm up and said this was one of the reasons we were playing so poorly. I finally got them to understand that we needed to play as a team, support each other, not get in each others way and most of all, be encouraging to each other. I also turned the team upside down in terms of positions and we more or less changed the back line to the front and vice versa.
The boys had listened to the half time talk and came out running and gunning. They played hard, they passed the ball, they tackled hard, they ran and they chased and played for each other but most of all, they used their brains and figured out just what it would take to beat the other team. We had moved Leo to the front line and Normie to half back and between them and the rest of the boys, they created havoc every time they got on the ball. The other boys recognized that both of these boys were “on” and tried to get them the ball as much as possible. Leo scored the first hat trick that this team has had and could have had a couple more and definitely shook them up. On the other hand, Jack in our goal had little or nothing to do.
It really was a game of two halves and we went from being a team that hadn’t shown up to a team that had our opponents wishing we had never showed up. The second half, the boys played just as we wanted them to. They passed the ball, they ran into spaces, they covered for each other. Heck, I even saw a couple of headed balls. The final score was 5-2 in our favor and could have been a lot more and I couldn’t be more proud of them not so much for winning but in the manner they went about it and for listening to our half time discussion. Well done boys.
We have two games left both next weekend. One is in Bastrop against todays team, Inferno, on Saturday and then on Sunday, we play against the PAYSAL Cougars on their field. They are the team that has that extremely talented rather large boy who had scored three goals before we realized we had kicked off the first time we played them. Hopefully, we can do a better job of reigning him in this next time around.