At last, summer soccer (or football for my international viewers) season has begun. I handed off my captaining duties off to Anthony Schaefer this year and he did a good job recruiting some ringers for our team, Ladybugs (name inspired by the 1992 film).
The first half was great; we dominated on offense and ball control. We scored fairly early in the game. I chased down the ball into the corner with no defenders in front of me. While I was too far out to get in a shot myself, I had time to find the open man to pass to. Unfortunately, that was Zuber on the other side of the field. I managed, though, to get in a good pass, but I have to give credit to Zuber for handling it though. In previous years, I'm not sure my teammates would have been able to control that pass. I know I would not have been able to if it were the other way around.
My memory is struggling to remember the next parts of the game...likely I was not involved in any significant plays and therefore the details are less important to me. I am fairly sure, though, that the next goal was Maria's. I remember yelling, "Shoot it!" shortly before she ended up taking her shot. She slid when she did take the shot. It may have been to save the ball from going out of bounds. As no one was in the area (slide tackling, as well as sliding in general, is against the league rules), the goal counted. (I would warn Maria that I have seen similar goals discounted when a defender is in the area.)
The third goal was an own goal off of a corner kick. The defender had room to make his play, but they were an inexperienced team and he likewise may be an inexperienced player, so he ended up kicking the ball backwards. From memory, he misplayed it off the hop. I think he whiffed the ball on the forward kick, but then hit it on the recoil.
The forth goal was by our ringer, John. It was a good hard kick that bounced off the ground. No offense to John, but a more experienced goal keeper maybe would have had it...but then I am forced to remember Robert Green.
And those are the highlights I remember from the first half.
So...second half...I think they realized by the second half that they had enough players that they could have nine on the field. We could only have the eight that could make it to the game. We were outnumbered, and their advantage showed. They probably had most of the time of possession for this half, though we still had drives on their side. However, we usually only had the midfielders and forwards up...though I do remember a couple of times the defense did get to move up...it was no where near the time of the first half, though.
Anyway, I think they got the first goal of the half. I don't quite remember the events leading up to the goal. At this time, I was playing forward (I had been playing midfield the first half), so I was away from the action. This may have come after my first shot on the goal...I cannot remember for certain. But, speaking of that shot, I probably should not play left field considering that I cannot shoot with my right foot. The problem with my first shot is that the ball was drifting toward the corner, so I had to cut the ball off to the corner so I could set up to shoot with my right foot, as opposed to shooting with my left and not needing to cut the ball off. Having to cut the ball off gave the defenders a chance to catch up. Therefore, I ended up having to rush my shot and I got way too far under the ball and shot plenty high. At the very least, the direction was correct.
My second shot was much better. The ball was a rebound shot off of a defender. I was able to use my right foot for this one. However, the shot was a little weak on the amount of power I had behind the kick. It was also chest-height, so it was at a good level for the keeper to catch the ball. However, since the keeper was not wearing gloves, he bobbled the ball a little. Not enough though; he did maintain control.
OK, then, at some point, John got another goal. Other people had some other good shots as well. Zuber had one that just missed the outside post. John also had another that went wide. Anthony had one that went toward the inside post, but the keeper had it covered.
And, actually, Anthony's shot came after my shot that went in for a goal. Much like my first shot, this was one that was heading for the corner. Again, I had to get around it. I was hoping to hit the outside post, but I ended up hitting it toward the inside post. In fact, it hit the inside post to rattle in. That was not where I wanted the ball to go, but I will take it.
Frankly, my leg was hurting a little at this point. I was having difficulty in the second half with collisions with players on the other team. I took a knee to the right quad (so, my shooting leg) fairly early in that second half. It was stiff for some time; though later the fatigue was my top enemy.
Lastly, near the end of the game, the mental fatigue was getting to me. Ryan had blocked a shot, but was unable to control the ball. The ball was popped up, and for a moment, I reflected back to my days as a goal keeper and wanted to catch it. I came to my senses before it was too late, but the one thing I did wrong was that the ball ended up scraping against my chest. I was facing the goal, by the way. What I perhaps should have done was set myself up for a header. Anyway, it all worked out. There was no one from the other team in the area, and I didn't contact the ball enough to push it toward the goal. I managed to wrap my foot around the ball off the bounce and kick it out.
And speaking of headers, that reminds me of a play I missed in the first half. It was a beautiful pass from John from the sideline that was high so I could have tried to head it in. However, I got too close to the goal, placing me too far under the ball, so I hit it up way more than I hit it toward the goal. Hopefully that was some first-game rust coming off.
Before I wrap up, I should cover some of the other players, instead of just being me me me me! Mostly I want to give kudos to Karl for pressing forward with the ball. Karl did really good going one-on-one with opponents, especially given his experience. This is an area I still struggle with (I try to find a passing lane whenever I can). Good job with the aggressive defense!
So, on to next week. It looks like this team has some people who had been in the competitive league in years prior, so I expect the game to be a struggle. I guess that means I'll just have to train hard this weekend while my wife is away at work! And the forecast looks great!
For those keeping score at home, the final score was 6 to 1.
I also want to criticize myself for kicking the ball too hard on many of my touches. Hopefully that is more first-game rust coming off.
Lastly, much of my body hurts this morning after. A lot.