Our Friday night practices and Saturday matches were threatened by weather again this week. We were able to have our full U6 practice but were cleared from the fields about five minutes into the U8 practice due to lightning in the vicinity. Practice never resumed.
As the morning approached, a line of showers moved across our side of Atlanta. I think most of the parents believed the matches for Saturday would be canceled in the interest of field preservation – but the weather started clearing by 11 AM and the sun came out in full.
By the time of our first match, it was in the seventies and approaching eighty by the start of the U8 match just before 1 PM.
Our side was again at full strength with all six boys available for the match. Our team’s new member played his first full game and performed better in the game than he has in practice.
There’s a significant difference in a lot of the kids between how they perform at practice and in the game – and for the better. Part of it is probably time of day and week – our practices being on Friday night after a full week of school versus Saturday morning when the kids are full of energy. The games are also more structured and kids get more feedback about how they are performing.
Evan had more of a challenge in this week’s match. There were a pair of boys on the opposite side of the ball who played aggressively and skillfully, and Evan faced off with them.
We need to revisit the skills from the skills training in the Fall in our front yard this week and bring them back into play.
We were one player short this week due to Boy Scout commitments. This meant two of our players would play the full 48 minutes of the match and everyone else would play 36 minutes. With the warm temperatures, I knew that these two players would probably be drained at the end of play – so they played one quarter in the goal and three quarters on the field.
During the first quarter, we had trouble getting the ball forward and maintaining possession in the front half. True to form, our center defender (one of our stronger players) was afraid to venture out of the defensive half several times when there was clear field in front of him. It’s a difficult teaching point regarding positional play – encouraging a player to go forward with the ball and abandon his position temporarily. Even the three players responsible for playing offense sometimes randomly dished off the ball instead of dribbling deep.
The team continues to play fairly well on defense. We gave up one goal in the first quarter but mostly kept the other side from taking shots. Aidan pulled it back to even in the second quarter, dribbling by a defender and taking a shot from the right side of the goal. It was 1-1 at the half.
In the third quarter, we allowed the other team more time and space with the ball, and it resulted in three more goals. The boys scored one more goal in the fourth quarter, ending with a 4-2 loss. Despite the score, we had a lot of shots on goal in the second half that could have picked up several more goals with the right luck.
So our training this week needs to continue to focus on maintaining possession of the ball and creating positive passing (or keeping a dribbling) versus playing the ball forward.
It also needs to apply to our throw-ins as too often there is no movement for the field players, and the player throwing in just tosses it to the crowd. The receiving player has no room to dribble or turn, and usually loses the ball out of bounds. One of my ideas pre-season was stressing playing the ball the direction they were facing – instead of trying to immediately turn if there’s no open space.
The season still feels really positive – we have been competitive every week of the season so far.