As the season prepares to get under way, we took the opportunity to get a couple of scrimmages in this week. The u17 girls got to play a newly formed u18 girls team and my u15 team of 2 seasons. We told the players that we wanted to use the scrimmages to see how we moved in the game and to try players in new roles of play. It was a chance for coaches to see players in different types of situational play and also to force players to play within the game construct itself instead of comfortable player dynamics. I know some would question why would we want to change things right before a game this weekend but I do feel there was merit in what we were doing.
Our game with the u18 team was not much of a challenge for the players, we were able to play through and force a lot of balls up field without much thought process and the game was pretty much a North-South type of game. We came out on top with a noticeable drop off in our game after we went up a couple of goals.
The game last night between the u17g and the u15 g was a horse of a different colour so to speak. Both sides came out with a very high work rate and soon settled in for a very solid match up. There was a moment or two where the older team realized that the younger team could actually play the beautiful game at a level that was giving them a bit of a work out. The u15s came out initially feeling that they would be on the receiving end of a hopeless game, but by the 5 min mark, they came to the conclusion that it was just a game like any other, best played like it should be owned. The next 85 min were highly contested on all thirds and there were very few shots allowed on either side. There were 3 goals in the game with 2 of them being just lucky shots that found the net somehow.
The 17s won 2-1 but as they said on leaving the pitch, it was a hard win and one they need to learn from. From my perspective, it was a hard game to be a part of as I did not want to favor one team or the other and there were coaching points that were left on the pitch that probably wouldn’t have been in any other situation. But, that is the way it goes sometimes, we watch, we observe and then try to filter the game through the lessons it gave us so that we may learn and be better for the experience.
Our expectations were realistic going into the games and our experiences coming out have given us goals to work towards. The post game discussions were brief and light-hearted. As I watched all of the players leaving the pitch with smiles on their faces and a bit of spring in their step, I felt justified for having high expectations for these teams this season. I expect them to grow, to be challenged and to leave from their time with us feeling that their time was well spent and that they each leave a more complete, knowledgable and capable player.
till I see you on the pitch