Saturday was our seventh matches for both the U6 and U8 teams. Both had been informally rained out of practice on Friday night – while the fields remained open, teams didn’t show for practice. That was fine, as it was in the high 50’s and steady rain in the evening.
Saturday morning was cold – in the low 40’s and windy. It didn’t change much between our 9 AM kickoff for the U8 game and the 11 AM kickoff for the U6.
At game time, I learned one of our seven would be absent – leaving us with six for the match.
For much of the game, we struggled with taking the ball forward. Players would get past midfield and either take a hurried shot, or look for a chance to pass (or ditch) the ball as quickly as possible. In one glaring example that typified some of the situation we’ve seen this season, our ball carrier reached midfield and looked for an opportunity to pass (while he still had some space around him to make it!) but found no teammates had followed on attack.
Aidan was successful in the first half in getting behind the defenders but failed to find a successful shot in the first half. He probably had six to eight shots that were either deflected by the keeper or hit the frame of the goal.
Our fortune changed in the fourth quarter of the game – and we found more offense in 12 minutes than we did in any 48 minutes this season. Aidan repeatedly beat opponents to get close to the goal and took measured, patient shots on target and found the goal three times in 12 minutes. One of his teammates added a fourth goal. I realized I forgot to tell Aidan that he scored a hat trick – he’ll be thrilled to find that out! In the last minute I pulled our goalkeeper up from the back, but the final whistle blew before he had a chance to contribute.
Sometimes I wonder how it would work if I shifted the entire team forward by ten yards – and have the goalkeeper play more of a sweeper role, and move the defender up to be a deep midfielder and so on when we have the ball. It might just work – but I don’t think I would have time to introduce it with only a couple practices and matches left.
I hope the boys saw the light in the tunnel from the fourth quarter – and in our post game talk I told them I wanted them all to get forward and score in our last match. To some degree, I think a lot of them have a confidence gap on ball – and are worried about making mistakes and that forces them to dish the ball before getting close to the goal. I hope the performance at the end of the game shows them that they can get there and make it happen.
This week was a better week for our U6 squad. We were again at full strength, and performed better in this game than last week.
My son Evan continues to enjoy playing. He recovered from a case of strep earlier in the week to be ready to play Saturday morning. He didn’t attempt to use his feints in the match Saturday, but he did show some good vision of the field in connecting with teammates and sending the ball across the field to open space. He’s also still quick to round up loose balls.
We had five of our six players score in the match today. I’m trying to work with our sixth and put him in cooperation with Evan to help him score. Evan understands what he needs to do, but so far the opportunity hasn’t come. Two of my players from last fall continue their awakening in soccer and worked well on chasing down the loose balls and getting some open field goals.