Post Season Notes

Facts about our regular season:

 

Standings:

 

1. BV-26

2. CR-23

3. O-15

4. CB-14

5. DC-8

6. RL-0

 

 

Goals scored against:

 

BV-3

CR-6

O-9

DC-10

CB-21

RL-42

 

 

Goals scored:

 

BV-34

CR-22

O-16

CB-14

DC-3

RL-2

 

 

The playoff picture:

 

BV and CR clearly were heading to the playoffs for the past number of weeks. What was up in the air was that 3rd spot. I figured in the last 4 matches we only needed to beat Oakmont and Christian Brothers and tie Bella Vista once.

 

We accomplished the very hardest of these in tying BV. Out of the other 2 matches we mostly outplayed our opponents but had some key errors that hurt us. We lost to Oakmont 0-1 and tied Christian Brothers 0-0.

 

We only had one more loss than Oakmont who is going to the playoffs.

 

Every match except for the one match at BV was a close match. We played BV closer than any other team in our league. We were the only team to hold them scoreless in a game.

 

In 2 matches with BV (the first place team) they scored an average of 1.5 goals/game against us. In their other 8 games they scored an average of 3.875 goals/game.

 

In 2 matches with Casa (the second place team) they scored an average of 1.5 goals/game against us. In their other 8 games they scored an average of 2.375 goals/game.

 

In 2 matches with Oakmonst (the third place team) they scored an average of 1.5 goals/game against us. In their other 8 games they scored an average of 1.625 goals/game.

 

In 2 matches with Christian Brothers (the fourth place team) they scored an average of .5 goals/game against us. In their other 8 games they scored an average of 1.625 goals/game.

 

In 2 matches with Rio Linda (the sixth place team) they scored 0 goals against us. In their other 8 games they scored an average of .25 goals/game.

 

We had on average more solid opportunities to score than our opponents (we failed to do so but set ourselves up to be able to do so) over the course of the 10 matches during league.

 

We certainly had our breakdowns during key sections of matches…but over the course of each match as a whole we outplayed our opponents most of the time.

 

Our completed passes averaged more than double our opponents in the 8 non-BV matches of league. (BV was a step above all of the other teams in term of style of play and individual abilities as a whole. They were a good team and we played them better than any other team in our league. They certainly have the ability to go on to win the Sections).

 

BV had a lot of Seniors. Oakmont had a lot of Seniors. Casa Roble had a lot of Seniors. We had a lot of Freshman and Sophomores and only 1 Senior. The other coaches were always shocked to find out we only had 1 Senior after we played them.

 

If we add in the pre-season our entire season even looks better. Out of all of the teams in our league we were scored on the least:

 

DC-15

BV-17

CR-22

O-23

CB-38

RL-52

 

We lost 3 less matches than Oakmont, Christian Brothers and Rio Linda overall. Oakmont only won 1 more match than us. Our overall winning percentage was 3rd best in our league and 3 out of the 6 teams we played in the pre-season are continuing on into the playoffs so they were not weak teams.

 

 

Is it important to win? Yes it is. But even in the midst of a losing season there are some points of hope for the future. There were some very good things that took place as one can see from the above stats.

 

Another huge stat for us is the number of completed passes/game that our girls averaged. We averaged 227 completed passes/game. That puts us up in the lower first tier professional ranks of most professional leagues in the world…including the EPL (English Premier League) which is considered by most to be the best league in the world.

 

Of course completing passes is not everything (as anyone can tell just by looking at our league results) but it is a good indication of potential. For instance…by completing so many passes/match we give the opposing team much less time with the ball. Keeping possession at any point on the field is the best defense there is.

 

After we got our passing legs underneath us we started to focus more on completing those passes in the center of the field more than the back. It is perhaps difficult for people to understand or maybe realize during any given season but there is a definite process to building a good program.

 

We have 7 systems of playing good soccer to teach these gals and we were able to touch on some of those this year. We were able to teach more this year than last year and we will be able to continue growing in what we are able to teach next year  more than this.

 

The ability to play a ground passing game is the foundation of being able to create a good program. We were able to push our own limits a bit this year (as the season progressed) in expanding our game a bit but we still barely touched on many other aspects of the game. I expect and look forward to being able to open up much more of the game to these ladies as we continue on this journey together.

 

We scored more goals in the beginning of the year this year by far than we did as the season progressed. As we worked on expanding our game for these gals we lost a bit of our foundation of the ground passing game and it did hurt our ability to move the ball well in the final third of the pitch to open up easier scoring opportunities.

 

That was fine as we were able to grow in other areas of the game. We still continued to pass the ball well but not as sharply and not as accurately as we had when that was our primary focus.

 

Since the game is more than simply completing passes on the ground (although as I mentioned it is the foundation of a good game) we chose to pursue some of the other areas of the game where we needed growth as a team.

 

I look forward to being able to pull more of these aspects of a complete game together more so in the next year or two to come. In time…the DC soccer program will have in place a training structure that will create the ability for people to grow in their understanding of the game in a very measured manner as they move from being a freshman (or before) to becoming a dominant senior player.

 

We will also draw more talented players as we go along and that will add that “special” element to the program that only elite players can bring. DC does not draw elite players at the moment but we will in time.

 

We have special ladies to be sure who can create good things but I have yet to see a player at DC who has worked hard enough on their own to develop into a player who can be creative when it is called for while being able to play within a system that enables the team to be better than just a bunch of individuals added together…the whole concept of the whole being more than the sum of the parts.

 

We were definitely that this year and we will continue to grow in that area as well as we move forward.

 

It was a very rewarding year in most respects but frustrating in others. I suppose the two always go hand in hand in some regards but we have a great foundation to build upon for sure. I look forward to seeing all of these ladies back next year as we will no doubt start to translate their ability to keep the ball into becoming much more of a dominant team to be feared as we continue on this quest to bring back pride and preeminence for Del Campo Soccer.

 

DC vs Bella Vista

Our final match of the season…the second of a back to back with Bella Vista. The first match of the back to back with BV was riddled with fear and errors on our part. The second match was much different.

I told our girls that we needed to put aside the night before and consider what this game meant as a single match that would end our season. Plus, it was our lone Senior’s last match and we were having a celebration to honor her that night under the lights in our stadium.

BV had their Senior night the previous night and introduced their dozen or so seniors. Our Senior night we would focus on one young lady who was one of two team captains for the year but the true leader of the team. She captured the hearts of the team and encouraged and motivated and showed by example what it meant to stay focused and to work hard…not only in matches but in training as well.

Our DC girls played hard for their lone Senior as a tribute to give her a good memory of the season and to finish the season with a sense of pride.

The girls went out and did something that no other team was able to do…we held BV scoreless.

We made the adjustments we needed to make from the night before such as playing together as a team and moving as a unit. Our defenders played patiently and kept the BV scorers away from those easy shots they had the night before. We kept track of the runners and didn’t give them any chances for those wide open opportunities they had the night before. Our center midfielders became the glue that kept the team in tact on this night where it was lost the night before.

We played with passion, energy and pride and even had a hero or two along the way who gave of themselves beyond their typical boundaries. I was and am so proud of these ladies.

The grass was thick and we made adjustments to that as well as I told the gals to play the ball in the air more than normal. With thick grass it slows down much more quickly and is rather easy to handle versus trying to force any longer passes on the ground where they would not travel quickly enough to be safe.

These ladies learned a great deal over the course of the season and I am so proud of them that they were able to make all of the adjustments we talked about before the match and be able to come out with a good result.

We tied 0-0 in the end but did give ourselves scoring opportunities (as we normally do). We were not ever able to find that key to unlock the goals for ourselves but we played very good soccer throughout the season. I was approached on a number of occasions throughout the season by people (sometimes complete strangers to me) to tell me how they thought our team played the best soccer they had seen at the high school level.

I know there are some schools who do a great job…BV is one of them so I always took those compliments in the context of the reality that we have a long way to travel yet relative to some of the powerhouse teams in Sacramento. However, I also was grateful that people could see and congratulate these girls on their accomplishments this year. It was topped off by a very good game against one of the best teams in the area.

Great Job Varsity!

 

JV had another very tough match versus BV. They actually got up 3-0 and it looked like they were going to pull off a victory. However, BV was able to open the door just a bit to give them a glimmer of hope. That was all it took and they came back with a vengeance. Our girls fought valiantly but could not contain the BV girls who had not lost a match during league all season long. It was a tough loss for DC but we are proud of how the girls fought throughout the entire season.

DC vs Bella Vista

Our DC ladies looked good in warm ups and started the first 10 minutes of the match completing passes and looking like the good team that they are. Then fear settled in on our ladies. I can’t even say why the mood changed but it did in a grand way. Our team started to settle back into a defensive mode but failed to actually defend much.

We  left the BV girls with loads of time to play soccer. They played it well…much like we typically would. As our midfielders gave their midfielders and backs nothing but time and space to play they picked us apart with their passing. They had their teammates checking to and slotting in at angles and diagonals to receive those passes and we left those runners free to roam.

BV had plenty of talented individuals and we had the worst combination of fear and overzealousness on defense. When they were dribbling we would overcommit and stab but when they were passing we gave them all of the time and space they needed to do whatever they wanted. We did not look like a soccer team and it was disappointing after all of the hard work during the season.

BV outplayed us in every facet of the game and we indeed looked like a very young and inexperienced team with them on the field.

We had really one bright light of the evening and that was our keeper. She made some great saves and did a good job even after a scare of being slammed in the back when she was going up for a ball. It was eerily similar to what happened last year versus BV when our keeper was injured quite badly. We played an entire season without that sort of incident until last night.

We have one more match tonight versus BV all over again at home. We will need to essentially forget about last night and go out to play our game. Our younger gals will have to figure out how to stay strong mentally and do what they have been trained to do. I know they can turn this around and put in a good showing this evening but it will have to start in themselves. Our 0-3 loss last night is not a good reflection of our team…I hope tonight turns out to be a much more accurate reflection of how they typically play.

 

JV had a good showing. The BV gals had some talented players and DC were in the match until the very end. We ended up losing 1-2 but were pressing hard toward the end of the match with many opportunities to tie the game. It was my opinion as I watched that the referee missed some key calls that would have possibly changed the outcome of the match. There were 2 times when our striker was put down in the box without a call. These things happen but they are hard to watch at the time they happen.

Of course…JV has another opportunity tonight at home to bring another victory home. If they can keep the intensity up for an entire match they may just pull it off.

 

We look forward to tonight’s match for DC Women’s soccer. It is a good chance for both Varsity and JV to end the season on a very good note. All teams falter from time to time but we are still immensely proud of all of our soccer players for the season thus far. I will be looking forward to bringing good news of victory for both teams after this evening.

DC vs Christian Brothers

Our DC women played very good soccer overall. They played better in the first half then the second even though the wind was against them. I reminded them to use the wind to their advantage in the 2nd half and they did by playing longer balls more consistently. We seem to have a hard time combining strategies.

In the first half they completed 153 passes, which against a team like CB who plays a pretty good game, is very good (especially against a strong wind). The 2nd half they completed much less (about 60% of the first half) and the soccer was not as nice to watch. Christian Brothers actually had more scoring opportunities in the 2nd half because we didn’t keep possession of the ball for as long.

However, we did take advantage of the wind and gave ourselves some opportunities to score. I don’t particularly think we had more opportunities in the 2nd half versus the 1st but they were able to make half of a tactical adjustment for the 2nd half. That is a good step forward for this team. Now…if we can get them to keep possession while making the tactical adjustments we would really be moving quickly toward winning more matches.

The wind could have afforded us many more scoring opportunities as we possessed the ball down to the attacking half. The wind affords much longer shots which are incredibly difficult to defend because it forces the defense to defend a much larger section of turf. We could have increased our opportunities by probably another 150-200% had we played the 2nd half as we did the 1st half.

In the end however, we ended up with a 0-0 result which is good. CB is a good team and we held them scoreless. We had slightly more opportunities to score than they did throughout the match and so we played an overall pretty good match. As always I am super proud of these ladies as it is difficult to play disciplined, level headed and beautiful soccer by possessing the ball down the pitch instead of kicking the ball down the pitch.

I try to get these ladies to see that the game of soccer is not a field position game as much as it is a possession game. On top of that…learning how to build from the back and possess the ball in the center of the field in order to open up scoring opportunities takes a great deal of patience and skill. Our ladies have learned how to do this to the point that I believe that they have consistently played the best soccer of anyone we have seen this year.

Learning how to convert scoring opportunities to actual goals is another step in the process. We have worked more on that this year than in the past but we have some work still to be done. These ladies have met or exceeded my hopes for them in their ability to play the “beautiful game” as they have grown throughout the season. We will continue in successive seasons to build and grow from here.

We have 2 more matches left on consecutive nights versus Bella Vista (May 1st and May 2nd). This will be a good challenge for us as BV seems to have a good team this year as is typical. I am certain that if we play our game we can compete with them. With one or two extra special shots or simply one or two things falling our way in these matches we can win both of them.

It will be an interesting week playing them under the lights away and at home on two successive nights…a week to be remembered for sure. I certainly hope those memories are good but I know I will be proud of these ladies for sure.

 

The JV played a hard fought match against CB. They went ahead 2-0 and should have been in the lead 3-0 with another missed opportunity that probably should have been converted into a goal. Their 2nd goal was really beautiful. One of the mid-fielders was patient with the ball and saw a run from another midfielder (she may have been a forward as well) developing and placed the ball directly in front of her stride. The ball was taken and delivered to the attacking forward in a perfect spot for a beautiful finish. It was probably the best soccer I have seen the JV play this year and I was so proud of them. They completed two marvelous attacking passes and finished with a score.

A 2-0 lead is a very difficult lead to keep however and CB, who has a great deal of very talented players, patiently pressed and possessed the ball to give them numerous opportunities to score. They brought the match back to a 2-2 tie and DC tightened the defense to keep the score tied all the way to the end. Great job ladies…not only for some really good soccer but for having the tenacity to keep the score tied when your opponent was really hammering.

DC vs Oakmont

For some reason Oakmont is able to get under the skin of our girls and throw them completely off of their game. Our DC girls had a difficult time during the Oakmont game completing simple passes that they have been doing all year long. The pressure from Oakmont was not any different than most matches but for most of our ladies they simply were not sharp.

It showed in the first half predominantly as Oakmont had the step on about every aspect of the match. They scored their only goal in the first half when we were trying desperately to find our bearings. We were waiting for the ball (largely inaccurate balls) to come to us while Oakmont was stepping in front and taking the balls (or much of the time we were simply giving them the ball).

At half time the gals looked defeated while only being down by one goal. We talked about some simple things they could do to change the game around and bounce back.

The second half was much better in the sense that they had that edge they did not have earlier in the match. Their pass accuracy was a bit better and they completed more passes. Largely though they looked like they wanted the game whereas in the first half they simply were giving up.

DC was on the attacking side of the field for the vast majority of the half but still the non-scoring woes continued. With a good dozen scoring opportunities we were not able to convert even one. The match ended with another 0-1 loss.

The girls were down but they were able to change the momentum of the match in the second half completely to their side. That is not an easy thing to do and I was proud of them for that. We will continue to work on their scoring and hope someone is able to unlock that door for themselves as the season progresses toward its end.

Our league record does not reflect the character and heart and ability of these gals to play good soccer. We have been in every game this year except for one. We have earned as many or more opportunities to score than our opponents in every game but one this year. These gals play very good soccer and as soon as we can unlock that door to scoring they will have a record that reflects their hard work and growth both as individuals and as a team.

 

The JV team rolled on to another victory easily with a 5-0 win. They played some good soccer and gave themselves plenty of opportunities in which they were able to convert into goals. Great Job coaches and girls!

DC vs Casa

Our second match of the season playing Casa Roble proved to be a bit different than the first. We played at home on a much larger field in the sun and we had a good match overall. We played a better match than Casa but unfortunately had a very short defensive lapse and they scored a single goal. Again…a single goal beat us in the end because of mental lapses.

However, the gals played very well overall. I saw the defensive lapse happening about three or four minutes before the goal was scored against us. I had a player up to substitute into the game but there just wasn’t an opportunity to get her in. There are times in soccer when you want to make a “sub” but do not get the opportunity. I have seen those times last well over 10 minutes. This time it was just a few minutes but it was too long.

We could have changed things around defensively with a single substitution but it was only available after the goal was scored. On the other side we had many opportunities to score and could not. As I have said over and over again it is hard to stay mentally calm and focused in circumstances that “feel” rushed and frenzied. It almost always feels this way in front of both goals. It takes years of training to overcome those “feelings” and to learn to stay calm and composed.

Our ladies work hard and they are learning these things. We are hoping that those things start to come before the season is up. We still have an opportunity to make it to playoffs with a couple of good wins in our next 2 matches. I am hopeful as our team continues to grow in maturity and to work hard to learn how to stay calm in front of the goal on both sides.

I again told them how proud I was of the way they played. Although it was a 0-1 loss they very much outplayed their opponent and they could take that as a huge positive from the match. They played well and that is an accomplishment against a team that shares first place in our league.

 

The JV took advantage on the other side of Casa’s defensive mental lapses and scored 4 goals for the match. They won 4-2 as they seemed to have more desire to win in the end than their opponents. Great Job once again Ladies! They still have a chance for first place…probably the best season the JV has had for many, many years…perhaps ever.

DC vs Rio Linda

Playing a night game on turf is a great thing. Rio Linda has a very nice facility and it is conducive to good soccer. It is a nice flat and true field and that helps our ladies a great deal. Our ladies played well. They, as they are prone to do, reverted into a frenzied type of soccer for about 15 minutes but they settled it down and brought it back to a very nicely played game.

Our second goal was nearly picture perfect soccer as they moved the ball around well on the attacking side until one of our center midfielders was wide open. She was given a very good pass and she finished with a very nice strike on the ball. It was really nice to see especially because this was after the portion of the match that our ladies “lost their minds” as we say. As I have mentioned in earlier posts it is one of the hardest things to come back from.

It is difficult to settle the mind and the game once it has started to get rushed and frenzied. I am super proud of them for getting it back into control and then scoring a perfect goal to prove that it was well worth the shift back to good soccer.

Our gals won the match 2-0 and completed an amazing 384 passes along the way. The pass completion is their season high and it is an absolutely beautiful accomplishment for a women’s high school soccer team.

This was our second match where we changed the lineup by taking one of our very strong central defenders and put her in the midfield. She did a great job and even scored our first goal. This is the first match in the center of the field where she was feeling good and it showed. She was a great help to our lone senior on the team.

They did a super job! It is nice to play well and to have a win on top of a well-played game.

 

The JV once again asserted their ability to score goals and to dominate the field. They won the match 7-0 with an impressive display of being the superior team on the field. Great Job!

DC vs Christian Brothers

Christian Brothers play good soccer overall. They are similar to us in that they are transitioning from one group of gals to another younger set (although no one in the league has predominantly all freshman and sophomore starters as we do). They are not doing quite as well as they are used to but it is always nice to play them because they do play a good game.

Our ladies do play well against a team that tries to possess the ball. The DC vs CB matches are fun to watch because of this. I believe our ladies, although much younger overall than the Christian Brothers team, play the game better though. In our match we controlled most of the match. We moved the ball well and our ladies moved themselves into offensive spaces and helped each other out.

We did, as we do from time to time, have a defensive lapse and they scored a goal. We had more opportunities and yet they had the goal in the end. It is tough on the ladies for sure. I try to encourage them that playing good soccer is the bigger picture. If they learn the game well they can incorporate those things into their non-highschool soccer as well. And…if they learn the concepts of what makes good soccer then they can carry that into all areas of life and learn how to support and love others in all areas of their lives.

I was proud of the ladies after the match. We had mental lapses but regained our ability to stay calm and play well after those lapses. That is an incredibly difficult thing to do. I told them afterward that I was proud of how they played and I was sorry for them that it was a loss. I try to let them know that it only takes a momentary lapse in defense to lose a match even if you outplay your opponent for the entire rest of the game. It also only takes a momentary lapse in front of the goal in trying to score to lose a match.

Many goals can be scored by simply understanding that they are simply passes and not shots. A simple pass into space does the trick. Most of our gals feel frenzied and rushed when they get anywhere near the goal and thus have a hard time finishing because very few high schoolers have the ability to strike the ball consistently well. They have the belief that you always shoot at the goal. It just doesn’t work most of the time. But…they are able to pass the ball consistently well. If they are able to incorporate their ability to pass into a goal scoring opportunity then they would score more goals in the end.

Anyhow…the ladies played well but came out with a 0-1 loss. It is hard but they can be proud of themselves for the way they played.

 

The JV uncharacteristically had a difficult time putting the ball into the net. They ended up on the losing side with a 0-1 loss. They fought hard as usual and we are proud of them as usual. They have not often been on the losing side of the score and I know it is not fun but they are having a fantastic season.

DC vs Oakmont

The match started out with DC having the ball. It was one of the most remarkable things I have seen in soccer. Our ladies kept the ball for over thirty touches and ended up with a cross to the keeper. That was beautiful soccer. Oakmont was caught off guard and had we had a better cross into the middle we might just have had a goal because we had numbers in the box.

After about 20 minutes of this kind of domination we started to falter on our possession and trying to rush things. The more we rushed trying to move the ball up the field the more we lost possession. The less we possessed the ball the more we tried to rush and the cycle continued until we ended up in the second half playing horrid soccer. It was perhaps the biggest shift in a match that I have ever seen.

I tell the ladies that they have “lost their minds” in such circumstances. What they know that means is that they have gone from a calm and smart game of soccer to a frenzied and non-thinking form of soccer. It turns into a sort of “I hope this works” kind of soccer instead of a systematic method of playing the game that actually does work.

All season long we have had trouble finishing. We seem to have plenty of opportunities to score but our ability to put the ball in the net has been lacking. It does affect their mental states and it is part of why they “lose their minds” in the match. When a team is so dominant and then does not score it begins to “feel” as if what you are doing is not working. The “feeling” of desperation can begin to creep into the mind and then it spirals out of control quickly.

So they throw out what was working and try things that do not work. It is how things are and I try to help these gals remember what works and try to keep their minds in the games that we play. We have scored enough for them to know we can but we have a hard time being mentally disciplined throughout entire matches and those times of lapse do hurt us.

In this match they continued to go down the road of a rushed and frenzied game and we lost 0-2. Hopefully it was a good learning experience and we can grow from there.

 

The JV won their match 4-0. They continue to score a great deal. They have some very focused finishers and it is really nice to see. It takes a certain style of individual to be able to score on a regular basis and the JV team has one or two of those. They continue to do well and we are super proud of them.

DC vs. Casa Roble

Under rainy skies and playing on long grass on a poor field our girls completed 269 passes in a 0-2 loss to Casa. The two goals were scored because of poor decisions on our defending side of the field. Casa has a few good players who have drive and determination and have learned how to make things happen and to take advantage of opportunities. We failed to simply clear the ball on the first goal by Casa and one of our players made a bad choice to give up the 2nd goal.

They had a number of shots on goal that our keeper saved and we were lacking in that area. We had numerous opportunities but were not able to get a good shot off. We had plenty of attempted shots that were not dangerous in any way. We will continue to work on shooting as the season continues as this is a glaring weakness for us.

The real good news is that we possessed the ball under very harsh circumstances and a fair amount of pressure. We should have a real good chance of beating this team the next time we play them as well. We will be at home on a larger field and believe it or not a better field. The weather should be dry which will suit us better than them. We also adjusted the 2nd half and played a much better half.

We had 118 completed passes in the first half and 151 in the second half. This is a great improvement especially being down 2 goals. The girls did not lose their minds in being goal crazy and they played a pretty good half. The field of play was switched from predominantly in our defensive half to the middle of the field and much of the time in our attacking half. We opened up the diagonals for our teammates much better in the second half…which is something we specifically wanted to do at halftime.

Our younger players engaged defensively in a much more consistent manner the second half as well…which is another adjustment we made during the match. Toward the end we changed up our formation and it very nearly worked out for us. We squandered some very good opportunities to get back into it.

We will continue to learn through these early matches and I think we should be just fine as we move forward in our league play. I have a great deal of optimism for our season. With such a young team we have a very steep learning curve but they are doing really well and I am super proud of them. I look forward to Thursday’s match versus Oakmont. It should be a good challenge for us and I expect that we will end the week on a positive note for our team.

 

The JV had another very close match. They are working well as a team. The JV team has some forwards that have a great deal of desire and heart that very much give each game a good deal of excitement. They are fun to watch. Even when the team has a disadvantage in skills they very much make up for it in energy and effort. More and more they are moving the ball around as well and we are very proud of their accomplishments thus far. They have only lost one game this season and are on record pace for Del Campo women’s JV soccer. Great Job coaches and ladies!