A view from my side.
Tonight we win again, getting maximum points with a 3-0 victory. But again, it was sloppy. Again, it was ugly. Again, it was harder than it had to be.
The team we played tonight did not really have many soccer players. What they did have was athletes. And athletes are competitive. The young men on the other team tonight knew they were not going to beat us. But they were not going to lie down and let us run over them either. They were going to make us earn our victory. I have a great deal of respect for athletes of that caliber. They played flag to flag, side to side, and more importantly, whistle to whistle.
We went up early on a PK, earned when they took down one of our strikers in the box. It was not intentional, but it was a foul and it was the right call to make. We played most of the rest of the first half on their half of the field, working the ball around, trying to break them down. Their size and speed made it difficult and while we had shots on goal, we couldn’t finish. Their keeper made several saves, two of them phenomenal. The first half ended 1-0,
We open the 2nd half recharged and ready. We made our half time adjustments and came out stronger. Working the ball, we kept up the pressure. Finally, after about 15 minutes one of our strikers receives the ball at the top of the box, turns on it and strikes it, beating the keeper inside post. We are up 2-0.
10 minutes later, we take the ball deep but get challenged. We win the corner, our 8th on the night. Each of them up to that point were poorly struck. Each had been wasted. Each time, we had failed to take advantage. Not this time.
This time we put up a great ball. This time we made the right runs. This time we challenged for the ball. This time we won that challenge and put a header in far post, behind a turning keeper. This time it couldn’t have looked better. We were up 3-0.
At this point, having ensured ourselves of 10 points for the if we can keep the clean sheet, we begin to play our reserves. We were already missing our starting keeper, home with a fever. Another starter, a central mid-fielder is down for 2-3 weeks with a muscle tear. We work to clear the bench, keeping our starting defenders in, but pulling everyone else.
The other team is not done. They are athletes and they see an opportunity to steal our shutout as we pull our starters. They try. They work. They do what they can. They play to the final whistle. As I said, they are competitive athletes and competitive athletes hate to lose. Competitive athletes have heart. Competitive athletes finish the game, regardless of the score. But the final whistle did blow and the competition came to an end.
We have one more match in the Round Robin, tomorrow night. We are in a good position, to be playing in the Championship match Saturday afternoon. But to ensure that opportunity, we have to win with maximum points. That means at least 3 goals and a shutout.
It’s possible to progress with less than that. But that would make us dependent on other results. I prefer we get to the Championship match based solely on our results. We’ll see how we do.