by Sheldon Cipriani
I looked at a Regional Quarter Final game tonight. I was shocked at the quality of soccer on display. People wonder why I am not a fan of high school soccer…at least in my region. This game demonstrated why!
The ball spent most of the time in the air. Neither team connected more than 3 passes. Most second touches were tackles, because the quality of the first touch was poor. There was no combination play in the middle or final third. Chances came from mistakes. Outside backs were never used to facilitate building from the back. Central midfielders were involved by accident in transition. There were no first time passes and the ball was never played back.
Both teams had a single player that stood out. One was a Goalkeeper (GK) and the other was an attacking midfielder. The GK was very good coming off his line , but in retrospect the opposition played it too heavily over the top. He did solve some problems based on his reading of the game. He also had some game saving saves late in regulation time. He was a commanding presence and handled crosses well. The midfielder was the only player on the pitch that could receive the ball in traffic. Very good ideas with passing. Good passing range as well.
There were also players that showed some individual competence, but had no idea how to play for the team. They were energetic in possession, as they tried to do it all themselves when the ball found their feet. There was no forethought, so no rhythm was ever established.
The game was played with spirit and passion, so it was end to end the entire night. It resembled a tennis match. The centerbacks for both teams saw the most action. The game went into overtime and many chances presented themselves, as both teams threw numbers forward. The chances were not created though. They came from missed clearances due to fatigue and low percentage balls being launched into the opposition’s defensive third.
It went to penalties and the better team lost. I guess I should say that the team presented with the better goal scoring opportunities lost the game.
If you are not familiar with the intricate details of the game that makes soccer so beautiful, you would have enjoyed this contest. The players competed, but never got the chance to play. For a coach, it was the longest 100 minutes of soccer I have witnessed.