We recently had the pain of being washed out last weekend at the Firebirds DuPage Invitational - So we decided to pick right up this weekend at the Fire Invitational (Libertyville) and the Soccerfest (Schaumburg).
Both our U15 Lady Hawks Red jumped in early saturday morning and U13 Cyclones Friday night to show their hard preseason work is showing.
Here is a quick recap of the weekend from the Coach
Game 1 of our Libertyville tournament we came up against CFJC. The midday heat definitely played a factor as the quality from both sides was lacking in the first quarter of the game. From the offset Lady Hawks dominated possession and got plenty of hopeful shots away from outside the area. A lot of wasted possession from trying to play passes into the channels between the oppositions wide and central defenders. In the heat players struggled to implement the game plan of looking after the ball and creating clear cut opportunities.
Breakthrough came just before half time when Gabby got a good powerful shot away leaving the goalie with no chance. An excellent defence splitting pass from Bella sent her through.
At the half we spoke about the need to play to the conditions and to look after the ball. Communication also needed to be upped especially between our defence and goalkeeper. Balls played in behind needed to simply be played back to Adrianna but instead were overplayed and given away cheaply. 2nd half performance was much improved with Lady Hawks dominating possessions and once again wasting clear cut chances when through on goal. Gabby winning the ball high up the field then played a pass to Mal who got a cross in to Rachel who finished from close range.
A rare break from the opposition saw Adrianna make her first proper save. Defence switched off briefly not keeping the line. With 5 minutes to go Bella wrapped up the win with a powerful shot from just inside their area. A good win but areas to work and build on.
Similar 4-3-3 set up against FC1974
Instructions were to look after the ball better and get wide players running at their wide defender. From early on Lady Hawks dominated the midfield with Taylor and Mallory running the game. Taylor picking up the ball deep and playing through to Mallory on numerous occasions. Early breakthrough after a good spell on the ball. Rachel getting a shot away after good work from the midfield. Lack of clinical edge when finishing kept the score down until just before the half when Gabby got on the ball from a Madison pass and played in Mal who finished well.
More of the same demanded for the 2nd half with emphasis on testing the keeper more. LOvely build up play from the back starting with Adrianna and working across the back four. The girls were playing the ball around fluidly without forcing it. Excellent triangles and 2 touch passing leading to numerous shots on goal without finishing them efficiently. Finally with 15 left Mal picked up the ball beat and opponent played in Kira who finished expertly from edge of the area.
An excellent performance from the girls who dominated possession and won the game comfortably. Communication also increased throughout
4-3-3 set up against Michigan Fire Juniors
A physical test with the opposition boasting some strong tall athletes. Shaky slow start from Lady Hawks who returned to old habits of looking for the killer ball in behind too often. Our defence was turned numerous times but between Meghan and Izzy the danger was swept up through good combination passing and through playing the ball back to Adrianna who swept up fantastically throughout the tournament. Players settled down and began passing the ball around well, interchanging positions and creating numerous chances. Wasteful crosses and no end product made it a frustrating first quarter.
FInally some good work from the busy Mal got the ball into Bella who turned and got a shot away catching the keeper off guard. 2nd quarter Lady Hawks controlled the tempo of the game and played in a positive manner with wide players Nora and Katie beating their opponent numerous times and getting shots away.
2nd half started in a similar patter with our opponents upping the physicality a little. As challenges began to fly in Lady Hawks kept their cool and kept the pressure on. This high pressure shone through when Maya, Nora and Gabby combined to close down their back 4 resulting in Gabby pinching the ball from their goalie for an easy tap in .
Large improvements across the weekend in looking after the ball better, beating defenders and getting crosses in, communication and playing where we are facing.
Areas of improvement - Finishing needs to be more clinical. Movement off the ball, lack of varied runs.
Here is a recap from the U13's
We wanted to use this tournament as a warm-up for the season opener is a few weeks. We had ample opportunity to try new positions - new tactical principles as well as polishing some individual goals going into our first game.
The girls worked hard on organization, especially in defence with applying the rule of Pressure, Cover, Balance to greater effect.
We also wanted to introduce our new players quickly to our style of play and system. Which is a very controlled possession type of soccer, but also be challenged by long balls from opposing teams. It was also a opportunity to bring on some U12 girls to get them a head start on the 11v11 formation and system.
Our girls ended up playing a good final game which came out to a 3-1 win and it was also particularly pleasing that we had goals scored from multiple players and positions.
Going forward we are looking to improve our finishing in general, crossing and forward runs from the wide areas. Also we had to tidy our movement from throw ins and our effectiveness in them.
U18 Lady Hawks
Our U18 Girls recently competed at the Chicago Development Showcase (CDS) at Stuart sports complex in Aurora, IL.
We matched our girls against very tough competition, all ranking in the MRL divisions across IL and MI.
We went 0-2-1 with a narrow 2-1 loss in our first game, 0-0 draw in the second and a thrilling 3-3 tie in the third.
As this was the first set of games for our new collection of players at the 02 age bracket with players from 04,03 and 02's forming our HS team.
The first game was filled with nerves and it showed early in first half. We went down 0-1 early in the game with a defensive mix-up allowing the opposing team to get ahead. It was end to end during the first half with the Evolution team gaining the better chances overall. In the second half Emina C gained a free kick on the top of the box to which Bella T scored a wonderful strike to even up the game. But it wasnt to be, with a late goal after a slip in the defensive end allowed Evolution to win it in the 69' (out of 70).
However, we felt the girls raised the bar on what we had set going in. Battling hard, working hard but learning all the way in both players, positions and coaches.
We went into the 2nd game with a new set of expectations for the team. Now playing a new Evolution team but still an MRL grouping. The game was fairly even throughout however on reflection, the coaches felt this game was and should of been winnable, but we were not able to take the chances offered especially late in the game as the rain fell and the ground started to get slick.
The third game was a real end to end game that thrilled the crowd. Matching up against Liverpool (MI) for the final game of the weekend Liverpool took a quick from some slack defending as we allowed them to get in behind us whilst unprepared. Not too long after, we suffered the same fate again, as a quick throw in caught us by suprise and the game was 0-2. However, the Lady hawks would not allow their heads to drop and go down without a fight. Jenna Z after missing a good earlier chance then scored her first of the game with a cool finish. Quickly after, Jenna Z doubled her tally to take the game to 2-2 with a fantastic shot with the outside of her right boot scoring off the underside of the crossbar. Liverpool took the lead again shortly after but with time elapsing, Bella T popped up again through on goal with a cool finish to tie up the game 3-3.
With lots to work on before starting up the season, this was a great way to kick off the fall with some real tough opposition. With Mondays practice landing on Labor Day, we now have double the work to do on Wednesday and only half the original time planned.