Saturday, May 05, 2018

Back with a vengeance

You may recall that a few weeks ago I mentioned that I'd gotten a bit banged up and played a disappointingly bad game. Since then, I've been amping up my effort in practice on the theory "you play like you practice", and it's been having positive results. Two weeks ago, my side practiced a man down for the entire two hours - our captain's basic theory of practice is to scrimmage until someone literally collapses, then play another 15 minutes or so - and still managed to come out on top. My shot was off, as I hit four posts or crossbars and failed to put anything in, but I made up for it on the defensive side.

In the league game, we crushed our former archrivals 10-3; we were up 7-0 before some of the defenders started getting careless and lazy. I had two assists, including one 30-meter pass that put the attacker beyond the defense just inside the box, one-on-one with the goalie. He ran on to it, hit it, and scored. I also had one decent chance from the left corner of the box, but hooked it wide.

The funny thing about the goal is that the guy who scored it hadn't played with us this year, but had been serving as the ref at our home games. Ergo my complete thought process, as follows:
  • open man long clear lane through THERE
  • wait, is that M?
  • isn't he the ref?
  • can't be, we're not at home
  • KICK don't fade don't fade YES!
But practice this week was the best I've played in years. I scored six of our 13 goals, including one header, which practically never happens. I earned my third start in a row, which would have been more meaningful if we'd had more than 12 players on hand. We've lost four in the last three weeks to injury, which poses a problem because I simply cannot effectively cover a wing for 90 minutes at my age.

Fortunately, we got off to a fast start, which let me concentrate on controlling the defensive two-thirds of the left wing and leaving the front one-third to the attackers. I played for 20 minutes, took a 5-minute breather, then was switched to the right side, and started the attack that led to our second goal. I also made the dumbest possible clearance pass into the center instead of simply kicking the ball out of bounds when my first two passing options were blocked, but fortunately, our goalie bailed me out with a good save. It was the sort of mistake I would have benched my kiddy players for making, but our captain settled for a brief and well-deserved "WTF-FWT?" monologue in my direction at halftime and promptly put me back in on the right wing.

Note to players - don't ever let in-game comments from other players who are not the captain influence your subsequent actions. My decision was stupid, but it only came up because I had just previously been warned by another midfielder about the danger of bringing the ball up myself out of the box instead of passing it. The thing is, I KNEW I could safely beat the opposing wing, no problem, which I had just done, and which I could have easily done again. But with that admonition freshly in my mind, I looked to pass it instead of simply blowing past the guy, and this time, both pass options were completely blocked. So, with the thought "must pass the ball" on my mind rather than "in deep, play safe", I looked inside, saw the right color, and made the stupid and dangerous pass into the middle, where my teammate received the ball, and was promptly knocked off it by an opposing player. I should have simply done what I did the previous time, take the ball outside, beat the opposing wing, then look up before looking in.

We didn't score again, but we kept control of the ball and the game despite being unable to substitute after one of our attackers was taken down hard early in the second half and banged up too much to run. We won 2-0 and moved up to second place, with a game against the first-place team next week. Despite the injuries, we're 3-1 in our last four games and we should be getting our best defender back in a week or two.



Blogger FUBARwest May 05, 2018 11:58 AM  

"Note to players - don't ever let in-game comments from other players who are not the captain influence your subsequent actions."

This applies to more than just sports.

Blogger Peaceful Poster May 05, 2018 12:06 PM  

Especially if those other players are women.

Seriously, after reading VD's soccer posts, I always gain a much greater appreciation for the mental side of the game. It seems at least as important as the physical part.

Blogger MendoScot May 05, 2018 12:08 PM  

Oh, yes.

Some of the worst mistakes I have ever made were from taking advice where I shouldtnt've.

Lesson: most advice is for learning about who gives it you.

Blogger VD May 05, 2018 12:11 PM  

The mental side of the game is the only reason I'm still able to play. I can't even imagine how good I would have been in high school if I could have put my veteran brain into my teenage body.

Blogger Jack Ward May 05, 2018 12:36 PM  

What little soccer I ever played was a bit in high school and some intra-mural in college. Say what you will about soccer, hate it, love it, indifferent but, for sure, you will never see anyone that plays regularly with an ounce of excess fat. So much running, possibly the most any sport except track. Even the football players get a quick breather in between plays. In soccer, not so much.

Blogger Mike Hertz May 05, 2018 1:06 PM  

Will we see the Euro trash villains in Alt-Hero bond/team build over playing soccer like the x-men over playing baseball?

Blogger Miguel May 05, 2018 1:57 PM  

So rare to see an American talking about what we in the non-American world call football.

Your words took me back to the time I used to play here in Portugal, in a place called "Póvoa". Good times.

Blogger Ledford Ledford May 05, 2018 2:02 PM  

Great, you think it's OK to leave my 50+ year old self with no excuses to skip basketball.

I bust an ankle it's on you, Day.

Blogger Keef May 05, 2018 3:50 PM  

Many top pro athletes say the same thing when they get into their 30s. I think Michael Jordan in particular has made that point.

Blogger Keef May 05, 2018 3:51 PM  

Once my lil bro turns 30 in a year we’re probably going to look for a 30+ league.

Blogger Brian S May 05, 2018 10:43 PM  

Listened to a podcast with a slerp scientist today, talked at length about 7 hours of sleep being a minimum before all sorts of physical side effects start happening, including endurance and recovery. With how much you play and work out I wonder if it would help you. I'm making an assumption you don't get 7 hours sleep regularly based on previous comments.

Blogger select star May 05, 2018 11:13 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger select star May 05, 2018 11:15 PM  

Great job Vox. Keep pushing and learning.

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