Our U8 team played a really great match this morning. It was a really fantastic performance by the whole team, despite a slow start.
People Don’t Change
We arrived early to the pitch for our match. Aidan, Evan and I played a little bit of keep-away but I was within earshot of the pitch. I spotted one of the parents from my U7 team last spring who was obsessive about her son’s play last spring.
People don’t change.
She was still screaming instructions at him from the touch line for the entire fourth quarter of the game.
Our side started the game with only five of our members. We knew that one player would be delayed or absent due to commitments for Boy Scouts, but the second was delayed in arriving until the second quarter.
We had a slow start – not necessarily bad, but we had trouble getting the ball into the offensive half. Our opponents scored two goals in the first half. The first was a clean shot that we allowed them the time and space to take. Our defender was beat further up the pitch and neither of the wings got back fast enough to help.
The second goal was a rebound that was put in after our goalkeeper was struck in the fame with the ball. I was surprised the referee didn’t whistle it stopped, but he probably didn’t see it.
At half time, I asked the boys what they thought were doing well. I discussed with them the importance of shutting down the offensive players before they had the time and space to take a shot.
We also talked about trying to maintain possession and keeping the ball.
I put Aidan out at Forward, and two of our new players on the wings. Both are fairly athletic kids who played the other football in the Fall and had some prior experience in soccer.
They formed a great unit and worked well together – all of them moved downfield together and attempted to move the ball between them. They also talked on field! It’s been rare for my teams to say much on the field in past seasons besides grumbling about the goalkeeper.
Aidan and one of his teammates combined for our first goal – with the teammate playing a ball across the goal face to Aidan and Aidan finishing with our first goal. The same teammate put in the second goal a few minutes later!
This teammate has been out to pick up soccer several times, so perhaps it’s a good sign that pick up soccer is building skills.
We kept the pressure on in the last twelve minutes of the match. The other team did a good job of slowing us down – they often knocked the ball out of bounds and off course when we attacked.
They managed a third goal with a few minutes remaining. I don’t remember the exact circumstances but it was similar to the first of the match. 3-2 and that’s how it ended a few minutes later.
There was a lot of good in this match – more so than any other match of a U7 or U8 team I’ve coached.
The team is bonding well. We haven’t had any infighting or arguing among the boys, or finger pointing after goals are scored. I think they’ve started to realize how difficult standing in the goal is. There’s a lot of reluctance to get in the goal.
Most of the kids on the team have a nose for the ball. They have more of that game sense of understanding which way the ball is going and following the action, and attacking the ball on defense.
It is a basic level of athletic skill that is hard to teach.
No one on the team got down after the first two goals were scored, or after the opponent scored the third. They quickly pulled the ball out and ran it back to mid-field to restart after the referee signaled the goal.
There’s still a lot of “Possession” or keep-away to get players moving on-field off the ball. That will come with experience.
We’ll probably play split squad next week against the U8 team that trains on the next pitch. While we play 4v4 on field, the other four on our team will work on 2v2 keep-away.
It’s feeling like a good season, and we’ll work on moving towards the Recreation tournament in mid-May with the team.