U14B USDA NW Conference Regional Showcase Wrap Up

By Peter Hayton

Game #1 vs Arsenal Colorado was one of the most exciting and pulsating games I have witnessed in a long time. 0:2 down after 18mins was not the start we had hoped for after playing some excellent soccer. However, a combination of some physical mish-matches and long ball tactics (plus clinical finishing) definitely put us on the back foot. However, this group of players has shown grit and resilience this season and put all that work to good use in clawing x2 goals back (Travis & Lucas) before half time taking us into the break 2:2. With all the momentum what we witnessed in the second half was a total soccer clinic. Ball circulation was accurate and precise leaving our opponent mesmerized and frustrated. This team was not used to losing and it showed in a series of late and sometimes reckless challenges that left several of our players in pain on the ground. This however, did not deter us and indeed strengthened our resolve to win the game. With our 2005’s cheering us on (fantastic club community and mentioned in high regard by all DA staff within earshot) we completely dominated the second period. An unfortunate Colorado OG gave us the lead and we would have gone further ahead minutes later had it not been for one of the most miraculous saves I have ever witnessed at this age group. Andreas Baechler struck a half-volley from the top of the box that was arrowing into the top L/H corner. As soon as he hit it, the whole bench was jumping through the top of the canopy expecting to see the net ripple (or burst). What we did not legislate for was Arsenal Colorado’s goalkeeper diving full length to palm away what would have certainly been goal of the game!!

With 5mins remaining and even though completely dominating possession and territory, both staff and bench were resolved to take a 3:3 tie (would have been a travesty of justice) but Finn had a different idea. After a “mazy” run and nice inter-play at the top of the box he “phazed” a shot left-right (it’s trajectory started outside the post similar to Roberto Carlos a few years ago) bending past the desperate dive and outstretched arm of the Colorado GK. What a Goalazooooo! and a fitting way to win the game. To say the whole field went crazy as the final whistle blew would be an understatement!! However, this was just a pre-cursor of things to come!!

Our first of x2 games on Sunday was against another v. strong Colorado program (Colorado Storm). We started strongly again deploying our high press “Barca” tactic and dominated in both shots on target, possession and territory but entered half time 0:0 as Colorado defended bravely and with #’s (all players) behind the ball. Our break though goal was disallowed for off side but the game was won with a wonderful strike by Andreas (sublime assist by Lucas) 38min into the 50min contest. Our players then managed the game with maturity and great quality to take their second victory at the showcase.

With only 1hr 50mins before 3rd game, time was tight to re-fuel, re-hydrate and also warm-up/stretch before KO. Unfortunately we were also a player down as Jorge had tweaked his left hamsting towards the end of game #2. To be honest game #3 had little to do with soccer and more to do with mental resilience and endurance. We dodged a bullet early when Real SoCal hit the bar (3min) but after that we settled down and tried to play our brand of soccer the best our extremely fatigued bodies would allow. US Federation scout (and personal friend of Glenn’s) Erik Visser was present at the game and had also seen parts of our previous x2 games. He commented on how well our players had played all weekend and could definitely see the concepts we have been teaching. He was extremely complimentary re: our style of play and also our club community and said our U13 & U14 support for each other had been the “talk of the town”!!. Game #3 petered out to a 0:0 tie but leaving the showcase unbeaten in our x3 game schedule is the best result at a Regional Showcase we have achieved in our short tenure as a USDA club and an extremely proud moment for our program.