2010 Spring - Game Recaps
Flight 5 - U13 Boys
2010 Spring Season Game Recaps
The Monroe Thunder finished the 2010 Spring Season on fire (En Fuego!). They were undefeated in their final 6 games of the spring season, finishing 5-0-1. That was the best record and the most goals scored out of any team over the final 6 games of the season. Of those final 6 games, The Thunder handed the first place team their only loss, beat both of the third place teams and tied a very good Piscataway team. If the Thunder eliminated that tie vs Piscataway by giving up a goal in the final seconds, and not lose to an East Brunswick team that we beat 4-0 in the Sunburst tournament, the thunder would have finished in second place for the season. Overall, a very successful ending to the Spring Season. Keeping in mind that we moved up a flight and the competition was much tougher in the spring than in the fall.
With that 5-0-1 record to end the season, the Thunder really turned their fortunes around after an 0-4 start. We ended up with a 5-4-1 record, 11 total points. That was only 2 points (1 win) out of 2nd place, and we had the 3rd most wins. We finished tied for 5th place - 2nd place had 13 points, 3rd and 4th place were tied with 12 points, 5th place was tied at 11 points, 7th place was 10 points. Therefore, 3 points separated 2nd-7th place.
At 0-4, the Thunder were sitting in dead last place in a 10 team league, before their end of season surge. It was unfortunate that the Thunder really didn't get onto the outside fields until after the second game of the season. We started out with some tough losses, the opening day loss in the cold rain noreaster was a tough 2-1 loss to the eventual second place team, Greater Flemington. After that, the Thunder went on the road and lost two hard fought games to two tough teams, Livingston Lobos and the Lawrence Panthers. Then, probably the worst loss of the season at home vs the East Brunswick Inferno, a team we beat 4-0 in the fall season and then 4-0 in the Sunburst Tournament. We lost 3-2 when the Inferno only had 3 shots on goal from outside the 18 yard line, all for goals.
Overall a successful season for the boys...some really great accomplishments this year...
- Second in the league in scoring with 31 goals scored.
- Second in the league in wins with 5
- Record against the top 3 teams --- 3-2-0
- Quality Wins
- Handed 1st place team only loss
- Beat both 3rd place teams
- Avenged early season losses vs EB Inferno and Lawrence Panthers.
- Over last 6 games undefeated
- Best Record 5-0-1
- Most Goals Scored - 27
Congratulations to the Monroe Thunder on a successful Season!!
Week J - Win - Monroe Thunder 5 - Lawrence Panthers 4 --- Record 5-4-1, Sunday, 5/23/10
The Monroe Thunder rolled back into Lawrence on a mission, playing the third place Lawrence Panthers. The Thunder came in undefeated in their last five games (4-0-1) and they wanted revenge for the 3-2 loss suffered earlier in the season at the Armory. The Lawrence Panthers only had 2 losses coming into the contest and were currently in third place. The Thunder rumbled out to an early 2-0 lead against a very tough Lawrence team. Lawrence answered with a perfect thru ball play of their own and quickly struck back to close the gap to 2-1. The Thunder responded with a goal minutes later and took a 3-1 lead into halftime. In the second half, Lawrence came out strong and scored again to cut the lead to 3-2. The Thunder again responded to take a 5-2 lead and then held on for a tight 5-4 win, surviving a huge rush by Lawrence and getting away with a potential hand ball in the penalty box. This was a very tough game, and we did catch a few breaks, but with all the bad luck from the beginning of the season, we deserved a few breaks. It was a hard fought victory against one of the better teams in our flight.
Monroe played shorthanded missing both Joe Z on defense and Jair at the center mid. Tyler W stepped in beautifully and played the entire game at left fullback and did an admirable job. Matt K started at center striker and really did a good job of distributing the ball, and Ryan W fell back into the Center Midfield position. Again, it was a total team effort, as we needed all bodies to put in the extra effort to get the team over the top.
Monroe started out strong and fast, constantly beating the Panthers to the ball and playing a very strong offensive game. Monroe scored two goals within the first 7 minutes of play. Michael C started both scoring plays by beating the Panther defenders to the ball and playing two thru balls to Tyler M down the right sidelines. On the first goal, Tyler M took the ball down the sideline and executed a perfect cross to a streaking Shawn down the left wing. Shawn one touched the ball from about 15 yards out to the far post. The ball cleared past the goalie for a beautiful early goal. I am sure the Gardini’s felt wonderful and felt that the first goal was dedicated to Shawn’s grandfather, William B. The second goal looked like an instant replay as Matt K was able to knock in a rebound shot as a result from another cross from Tyler M on another beautiful through ball from Michael C. Matt really did a great job, held his position and banged home a nice one touch rebound shot.
Ryan W scored 2 goals - Tyler M scored 1 goal? Finish in a little bit have to go now....
Week I - Win - Monroe Thunder 8 - Woodbridge Thunder 3 --- Record 4-4-1, Sunday, 5/16/10
The Monroe Thunder stormed into Woodbridge and played their most complete game of the season. They rumbled over the Woodbridge Thunder, who are a very high scoring team, 8-3. This makes the Monroe Thunder the supreme Thunder team as we are undefeated against all Thunder teams this season (2-0 vs Watchung Hills & Woodbridge). I told the boys we needed to up our goal kitty, otherwise we would be eating PBJ’s in the park for our end of year party. Adding $140 to the end of the year party (8 goals), buys alot more adult beverages for the parents....
Before getting into the game, I just wanted to say that the unfortunate tie we had against Piscataway had an overall postive affect on our entire team. Over the last two weeks the boys have played as a complete team. They are playing and communicating in a much more positive way and they are really picking each other up. The last two games have been the best team ball we have ever played. Coach Joe and Coach Craig have noticed better team chemistry over the last two weeks. So, as Kelly always says, "Things happen for a reason." We started out 0-4 and we are now 4-4-1 and playing better as a team. I am putting an official request to start the spring season 3 weeks later next year...The boys should be commended for the way they have accepted the challenge of playing as a team and putting forth the extra effort required to finish the game on the positive side. Just like last spring when they accepted the challenge to put forth a better effort in practice and games and take soccer training more seriouslyst year. Last year, they learned how to play hard, smart, and committed and this year they learned how to play as a team.
The Ward brothers decided to dominate the scoring sheet in the first half - Maybe Randy, Susan, and Bill should foot the bill for the first half goalie kitty funds. The last 3-4 weeks have been all about the defense, this week, after working on shooting and heading the ball around the goal for the last 3 weeks in training, the Monroe Thunder finally broke through...All 8 goals scored were setup by great team passing. Our team speed was to much for their defense, Tyler M, Ryan W, and Shawn G all used their speed to our advantage all day.
Matt K started the scoring with a beautiful trap and 1 touch push to open space to provide a perfect through ball pass to Ryan W on a beautiful overlap run. It setup Ryan W with a 1 on 1 with the goalie. Ryan punished the ball to the lower right 90 for a beautiful goal. The second goal was setup after a nice sideline run made by Tyler M that resulted in a corner kick. Tyler M made several outstanding corner kicks and runs throughout the game, Tyler M placed a corner kick on the 4 yard line, and Tyler W headed the ball over the goal line for a 2-0 lead.
After Woodbridge scored to cut the lead to 2-1, Monroe stormed back as Tyler W made it back to back goals. After a nice pass from Ryan W, Tyler W hammered a nice hard low shot into the left lower corner for a 3-1 Thunder lead. Keeping the Ward connection alive, Tyler W fed Ryan W with a beautiful lead pass through the defense which Ryan W Thundered home for a commanding 4-1 lead.
At halftime, we discussed keeping the pressure on offensively as Woodbridge scored 6 goals last week to win 6-5. We also needed to contain the Woodbridge wings utilizing our fullbacks and keep the stopper in the middle of the field to control the middle of the field as opposed to over attacking. That strategy worked as David A was able to control the middle of the field and distributed the ball up. Coach Joe commented in the second half how we were controlling the ball in the mid-field and not just blindly kicking. Alot of 1 touch passing.
In the second half, Tyler M really took over, On a nice feed from Michael C -- Tyler M launched a rainbow shot from the inside 18 corner over the goalie and into the side netting for a beautiful goal. He put the perfect touch on the ball and it was an excellent shot. Later in the second half, Tyler M took a beautiful feed from Ryan S and beat the goalie in the lower right corner for a beautiful goal and Ryan S first assist of the year. That made the score 6-1 at that point. After Woodbridge scored to make it 6-2, Ryan S scored on a perfect crossing pass from Ryan M. Ryan M recorded his first assist of the season, he really kept his head up and made a perfect lead pass. Ryan S made a nice trap, touched the ball twice before striking the ball into the net. That was Ryan S’s first goal of the season. Our 8th goal was also a first goal, as Joseph Z made a beautiful run on a rebound shot off of the crossbar from a Ryan W shot, Joseph Z beat the goalie to the ball and headed the ball into the net. That made the game 8-2 and the Thunder went on to an 8-3 victory.
I also wanted to mention that it was good to get some players to switch positions around and expose the defensive players to the offensive positions. I thought Brandon W had a very solid game and he looked really good at center midfielder. Ryan M can play all over and Joe Z looked good at both wing positions. David A continues to play well at the stopper position, he really has been cutting off any middle stikes by the opposing team. He is especially adept at taking hte ball off of the opposing players feet. I wish I could get the defensive players out more, but they are just to valuable where they are playing and they are playing very well as a unit.
A TOTAL TEAM WIN - SEE WHAT WE CAN ACCOMPLISH WHEN WE PLAY AS A TEAM!!
After Week H
I just wanted to mention that despite having a 3-4-1 record, the boys have really showed a great deal of improvement througout the season. I really think if we went another set of games against all the teams, we would have a much more favorable record. The record does not indicate how well they are playing and how much they have improved. Of course, there have been hiccups during the season, some major and others minor. Each week, I have been taking one tactical weakness from the previous game and devised a practice to improve or eliminate these weaknesses. I have also been taking a small group of players to work on some individual skill sets. It is a credit to the boys that they are listening(yes - believe it or not), learning, and applying what the coaches have been teaching. I am proud to say that they are really making improvements in all areas of the game.
I wanted to point out to the parents some of the different things we have been working on.
Densive trap - in the beginning of the season we gave up a few breakaway goals because there was one defender that was not pulling out. We are now able to pull an opposing team offsides multiple times each game.
Box and Support Spacing - We have constantly worked on our 3 and 4 man spacing - we are not bunching up in the middle of the field as much anymore.
Individual Defensive Containment - Keeping the defensive player in front of the ball on 1v1 conditions, not just blindly swiping at the ball. Both the right/left fullbacks have done a much better job at containing the offensive player until the offensive player commits. (this was huge).
Tyler M - A crossing machine - Allowing Tyler to take corner kicks - besides being very consistent and long with his kicks allows us to get taller players in our runs. We have scored quite a few goals off of corner kicks since Tyler started taking them.
Heading - Our heading over the last 3 or 4 games has greatly improved. If you notice we have probably headed the ball more in the last 3 games then we did in all our previous seasons combined. Ryan M, Matt K, Tyler M, Jair, Ryan W, David A, Mike, Brandon, and Eric have greatly improved and excelled at directional heading.
Attacking the 50-50 ball - We have greatly improved our winning percentage of our 50-50 balls. Although not perfect, our percentage has improved.
Weakside Defense - A couple of weeks back we worked on our weakside defense, it has cost us a few goals throughout the season. The last two games our weakside defense has vastly improved. It is far from perfect, but much, much better.
Controlling the middle of the field with our stopper and fullbacks - We have finally hammered it into the boys heads, that controlling the middle of the field is the key to our games - keeping the stopper and fullbacks aggressive gives us many more scoring opportunites and allows us to control the flow and play of the game.
Shooting & Attacking the goal - Over the last 4 weeks we have worked on getting the ball off of our foot at a 45 degree angle to get more power behind the shot. Also, we need to create clearance, not striking the ball straight where it hits the defender. In addition, in the center of the field we want the center striker to turn and attack. This has improved, but our 1 v1 with the goalie still needs work...we have dedicated 3 entire practices to 1v1 with the goalies...not there yet but getting better.
Chesting - We have worked on chesting numerous times, I have seen improvements, but we still have to many players turning their body and lifting their thigh...but we have several players that have done a good job with chesting.
Trapping the cross and shooting - In the beginning of the season we were getting to many missed traps and/or rushed shots off of our crosses inside of 10 yards of the goal. We have been working on trap, push, create space, and shot. We are also working on shooting on goal at a corner on the ground.
Touch trap of the thru ball- worked on a little, but we need alot of work on this advanced technique.
Week H - Win - Monroe Thunder 3 - Watchung Hills Thunder 2 --- Record 3-4-1, Sunday, 5/9/10
Once again, The Monroe Thunder gave their Mom’s a wonderful Mother’s Day present as they sip Mamosa’s on the sidelines (even though it was 50 degrees and 30 mph winds). The Monroe Thunder was coming off a really tough last second tie from the previous week to the second place team, Piscataway. They now faced the 6-0-1 first place Watchung Hills Thunder. The Monroe Thunder came into this game with a modest 3 game undefeated streak, 2 wins and a tie. The Monroe Thunder came away with a hard fought and well deserved 3-2 victory on the road. The Thunder started the MNJYSA season 0-4 with all games basically decided by 1 goal, and they have now reeled off 3 wins and a tie against some really good competition.
I was anxious to see how the Thunder responded to a few things...How they handled a tough tie from last week - would they bounce back? If they would play like a team after our long discussions about being good teammates and avoiding Unconstructive Criticism? And finally, we talked at length (preached really) that they are at 98% effort, and they need to find that little extra 2% to get them over the hump. That extra effort needed to avoid the 1 goal losses or late game ties, making the one or two extra plays it would take to get the TEAM over the top and win as a unit.
In addition, after working hard on our defensive sets last week, we really worked on our offensive sets this week. We worked specifically on creating extra space with a pushout dribble to get the ball off of our foot and generate more power behind the shot. We worked on trapping the cross on the weakside and pushing the ball off of our feet but towards the goal (rather than away from the goal - this generates more power on the shot) and enables the player to get a clear shot. Finally, we worked on our wings taking a more middle of the goal run in order to head the ball on goal. Specifically, I worked with Eric and Shawn on the weakside trap and shot off of a cross, I worked with Ryan W, Jair, David S, and Michael, with an 18 yard power shot. We also worked with Matt K, Tyler M, Ryan W, and Shawn on putting a head on the ball inside the posts.
I couldn’t of been more proud of the boys than I was this week. They are not giving up, they gave the extra effort and played a complete game for 70 minutes. They were down 1-0 and came back and tied the game 1-1 on a beautiful play. Then the Thunder went up 2-1, and then after Watchung Hills tied the game relatively late 2-2. The Thunder came back and scored against the wind to take a 3-2 lead. They battled the wind in the second half and a huge rush of shots and came away victorious.
This week for the second straight game sparkled again!! They maintained their weakside defense better, and they did manage to pull Watchung offsides 3 or 4 times during the game. Brandon played extremely well again. I can’t say enough about his improved play, he is irreplaceable back at the sweeper position. He is getting more vocal in the back and he his taking charge of the defense. He is pushing the defense up quicker, he is attacking the ball in the middle of the field, he is constantly turning the ball to the outside and then up the sideline atleast 5 times a game. He is displaying suprising catch up speed and breaking up potential breakaways. He has played extremely well all season, but especially the last two weeks. Ryan M has really settled in at right fullback, he is covering alot of ground - he is getting the hang of weakside defense and our defensive trap. He has quickly entrenched himself in this relatively new position for him. He gives us alot of extra speed on the backside of the defense. Ryan M is aggressive and he has allowed us to control the right half of the middle of the field. In addition, Ryan M is very adept at positioning, and he his constantly communicating with the the defense to switch positions or cover holes left open when a teammate makes a run. He is very smart. He is also the best defender at switching positions on the fly either with the mid-fielder or with the stopper or sweeper. Joseph has also played very well on the left side at fullback over the last two weeks. He is playing aggressive and he is also getting the concept of weakside defense. For the most part he is staying home, as long as he stays focused, he is playing in the right position. He has played really strong the last couple of weeks, especially at stopping the pentration of the ball at the point of attack. He has also showed a surprising burst of speed as he is growing he is getting faster relative to the offense. This is important, because the left fullback is always matching up against the right wing, which is usually the fastest player on the opposing team. David A and Jair both played well at Stopper. We had to make some changes this week at stopper because their center mid-fielder was so fast and so skilled we needed to keep throwing fresh players at them. David A is always our most aggressive player and he played him well in the mid-field, but he couldn’t keep up with him once he was past him. We moved Jair in their a couple of times and then we put Ryan W on him a couple of times. The combination seemed to slow him down a little bit. It was a great team effort.
The goalies played fantastic this week. Only giving up a breakaway goal in the first half, and a fluky floating goal in the second half. Ryan S had a really nice horizontal diving save in the first half. He deflected the ball into the post making a beautiful save. Ethan played his best game of the season by far...he made 4 unbelievable saves in the second half. He was the reason we had the opportunity to win this game...He was aggressive and all his saves were off his lines and he showed real guts coming out and making himself wide to block several shots. We talked alot about this over the last 2-3 weeks, and he really made me proud by displaying perfect form off his line on 4 different occasions in 1 game. The other coaches were very impressed with his play.
The offense played their best game of the year! I was so proud of this group, talk about paying immediate dividends -- everything we worked on at Saturday’s practice occurred in the game on Sunday. All 3 goals that were scored - we worked specifically on Saturday...thank god the rain held off and we had practice.
The first goal was beautiful, probably our best goal of the year - Ryan W touched the ball outside to Shawn, Shawn trapped the ball and pushed it down the sideline and crossed the ball inside the far right post. Tyler M came full speed through and put a beautiful head on the ball right into the middle of the goal, that tied the game up at 1-1. They didn’t perform it that well on Saturday, but it worked perfect in the game. A beautiful assist by Shawn and excellent lead pass by Ryan W.
The second goal was just as pretty. Ryan S took a centering pass and saw David S making a center run behind him. Ryan S made a beautiful back pass to David S. David S kept his head up and made a nice cross to Ryan W, who blasted a beautiful left foot low and on the ground passed the goalie. This gave the Thunder a 2-1 lead.
After Watchung tied the game at 2-2. We had another opportunity that Eric practiced hard on Saturday. Tyler M made another nice cross on the 10 yard line. Eric took his time, made a nice trap, moved the ball off his foot and blasted a shot passed the goalie and through a diving defender to give the Thunder a 3-2 lead.
The Thunder held on, as we learned from last week, the offenses started putting the ball overe the top into the corners killing clock, clearing the ball out of bounds, and making long throw ins down the sideline. They played much smarter at the end of this game. In addition, the coach made more timely substitutions to also kill more clock at the end of the game.
A TOTAL TEAM WIN - SEE WHAT WE CAN ACCOMPLISH WHEN WE PLAY AS A TEAM!!
Weel G - Tie - Monroe Thunder 1 - Piscataway Black Knights 1 --- Record 2-4-1 - Sunday, 5/2/10
The Monroe Thunder came into this game with a modest 2 game winning streak. The Thunder was facing an undefeated team in Piscataway, a team that dominated us in the fall season handing the Thunder a 3-0 loss. This week, we worked on our weakside defense. It has been lacking over the last couple of games and it has cost us a couple of goals and games. This week we really worked hard on covering the weakside and containing the ball on the outside. The boys did a great job and as a result played their best defensive game of the season. The four defenders played most of the game on a very hot day, I asked them to keep playing because they were just doing such a spectacular job.
David A and Brandon played extremely well in the game. David A made several nice plays on breakaways, one time making a nice slide tackle to push the ball away on a breakaway. He played a strong stopper and was a key to the defense. David embraced the strategic importance of playing an offensive stopper. Brandon, I can’t say enough things about his defense. The one thing that he has improved on the last couple of weeks is keeping the ball and play in front of him, there were several plays earlier in the season where he missed a trap and it resulted in a breakaway for the opposing team. He did a good job of keeping the ball in front of him.
Ryan M had his best game of the season, he covered so much ground. He marked the weakside, covered the middle when switching with either Brandon or David A. He also played a good stopper. Everytime you looked, Ryan was in the play - he really played a strong and aggressive game. I really think Ryan M is adjusting really well to the right fullback position. Ryan has an excellent feel for the 50-50 balls and most times when he attacks he wins the ball. Joeseph played a stong game at left fullback - he really stepped up his game and he was "controlled aggressive" meaning he didn’t just blindly attack the ball, but committed to containing and playing weakside defense, while also being aggressive to the 50-50 balls.
Ryan and Ethan played a very strong game in goal. Ryan made some nice saves in the first half. Overall the defense communicated much better and played a really solid game.
Shawn Gardini scored the Thunder’s first and only goal of the game on a nice cross from Tyler M. He was able to make a good turn on the ball and place the ball into the corner of the net. It was a nice play and a nice goal.
The Thunder dominated play in the game, but we had a tough time scoring becauses Piscataway played a deep diamond defense which prevented us from sending the ball over the top. Although, we did have some nice runs, we didn’t have as many because of the defense that Piscataway was playing. They had two strong fullbacks that were able to make some plays. We tried to attack the middle with thru balls as opposed to going over the top. We had opportunities to pad our lead but we were either unlucky or didn’t finish. Eric S hit the crossbar on a beautiful shot, Jair and Ryan W had a couple of opportunities to score and a couple of shots on goal. Tyler M also had a breakaway chance that went wide.
In an unfortunate turn of events, the Thunder held the lead until about 12 seconds left in the game. With 50 seconds left in the game we were on the attack and Tyler M had a beautiful cross to the left wing. We had an open shot on goal and we mis kicked the ball. If we score or even if we launch the ball for a goal kick, we most likely win the game. Unfortunately, the goalie came out punted the ball down the right sideline, where the right mid misplayed the ball and the right fullback let the defender slip through. Then we let the ball cross the end line for a corner kick rather than clear for a throw in. The corner kick resulted in a funky shot where the ball had tremendous spin on it...it took a funny hop and snuck by our goalie for a goal with 12 seconds left in the game.
Before going over the life lessons we learned from this game...I want to say that we played one of our best games of the season against a very good team. The game ended in a tie against a team that dominated us late in the fall season and was in 2nd place and undefeated, that is a great effort by our team. To come out of that game with a tie was wonderful and I was really pleased with the improvemet of our weakside defense. I thought our defense was solid all game our mid-field play was stellar. Overall a great team effort and we deserved a better result, but I was still content with the way we played.
At the end of the game, the emotions of the boys were running high, and they wanted to place blame on individual players. Both Joe and I brought the team together and explained that we win, lose or draw as a team. The end result is never as important as how we play. There was plenty of "shared blame" to go around. As a team it is never one play or one player, there is always a host of plays by many players and coaches that contribute to the end result of a game, positive or negative.
In this case, Just that last goal, had a multitude of team errors - starting with Coach Steve for not substituting more down the stretch to help kill the clock, and substituting a right footed kicker late in the game at the left wing position. We won’t get into the individual player errors, but it involved 8 different players making mistakes that resulted in a flukey goal. These things happen, and the true character of a team is how they respond the next week when we play an even tougher opponent.
My guess is that we are going to respond positively! Why? Because every thing we discuss and work on during the practice week, we end up bringing an improved product out to the next game. I have confidence that the Monroe Thunder is going to bring a complete team effort to the next game!!
Week F - Win - Monroe Thunder 4 - Elizabeth Desportivos 3 --- Record 2-4-0 - Sunday, 4/25/10
Well, Well, Well....I do not think we have seen a more exciting game than the game this Sunday. The Monroe Thunder struck like a torrential downpour of goals to end on the best comebacks I have seen since coaching soccer. Down 3-0 with about 18 minutes to play. The Thunder stormed back with 4 consecutive goals in a 13 minute span to take a 4-3 lead with 5 minutes to play. Then they hung on, missing a golden opportunity with 2 1/2 minutes left to take a 5-3 lead as Tyler M broke free and missed a close open netter. But it didn’t matter, because the Thunder picked up a 4-3 victory in one of the most exciting, dramatic games you will ever witness.
Monroe started short-handed again this week as we only had 13 players available at the start of the game. Matt K received a start at left halfback to replace David S and he did a good job and Ethan started in goal in place of Ryan S who was sick in the first half. Ethan did a good job, he made 2-3 high quality saves in the first half and probably an additional 4 or 5 saves on a wet field. The goalies worked on punting and throwing on the Saturday practice before and they both punted extremely well.
The Thunder despite their record have been outplaying their opponents and we had several good weeks of both trainer and regular practices. This week we worked on our biggest weaknesses. We worked on shooting and finishing, and I have requested that Coach Craig do 3 consecutive weeks on finishing in front of the goal and shooting long range. We worked on getting the ball away from your body, stepping into the ball, and placing the ball at a 45 degree angle while positioning to shoot. On Saturday, I also worked on moving through the ball and meeting the ball on passes. We really have a great sense of spacing and passing, and now we are working on finishing and aggressiveness to the ball. Again, I saw a big improvement in both of these areas and we continued to talk about having the heart and extra effort required to come out on top of the close games.
The Thunder started out rolling, and had several good opportunites to score in the first half. Ryan W, Jair, and Tyler M all had several good runs and crosses. The team continued its good spacing and was relatively aggressive, however, the defense was a little out of sync in the first half. We had several opportunities to pull our defensive trap, however, we were slow and in turn, Elizabeth had several breakaways. Our backside defense in the first half was out of position, and we continued to leave the back side uncovered in the first half.
Early in the game, Elizabeth had a hand ball inside the box that the ref made an abhorrent call and placed the ball outside the box for a direct kick rather than a penalty shot. Needless to say, the coaching staff was not happy, as we felt that changed the whole complexion of the first half. As it turned out, Elizabeth scored the first goal on a cross from the right wing across the goal. The defense failed to cover the backside again and left the striker one on one with the goalie and Ethan came out thin and Elizabeth banged in a goal. Afterwards, Ethan made several very good saves...he intercepted a crossing pass right off the foot of another open player, he made a diving deflection to his left inside post, and he made a real nice save on a high shot. Elizabeth took a 2-0 lead again on an uncovered backside goal. The defense broke down and Ethan had little shot of making the save. We kept the pressure up but ended the half down 2-0.
At halftime, we discussed a few things....First off, we need to make sure their attitude was up...we told them to keep their heads up and stay positive, keep passing, and shut down the bickering and play as a team. Second, we talked about the technical changes we needed to make - They played a diamond defense deep in their own end, not the typical trapping flat defense we usually face (and prefer to face because it plays to our strength). Therefore, we needed to keep our stopper across halffield as an offensive stopper to control the mid-field because our midfielders were pushed up. We needed to stop sending the ball over the top and attack and carry the middle before distributing the ball. Third, we knew we good execute our defensive trap against Elizabeth and catch them offisdes, so we talked about our backside defense and our defensive trap needed to be executed better. Finally, we talked about putting forth the extra effort, finding the heart to put themselves over the top - get the game tied and then see where the chips fall. Do not give up.
Well, we came out and executed our trap much better. We caught Elizabeth offsides about 10-12 times in the second half. Which in turn stopped the majority of their breakaways. We covered our weakside much better, not perfect, but better. The first ten minutes of the half went scoreless. At about the 15 minute mark of the second half Elizabeth executed a perfect corner kick. The ball rainbowed to the far post and their striker jumped in front of Joe and headed the ball into the upper right corner. A real pretty play, and sometimes the other team just makes a great play and that is what Elizabeth did to take a 3-0 lead with 25 minutes remaining.
The Thunder did not give up! We scored at about the 20 minute mark, we finally broke through as Ryan beat both the defender and the goalie to a ball in front of the goal and put a bouncing ball past the goalie to cut the lead to 3-1. At the 18 minute mark, Tyler M was fouled outside the box, which resulted in a short corner kick. He placed the ball on the far corner and Eric redirected the ball into the corner for goal #2. That made the score 3-2, and Coach Rich said - you know I think we have a real shot at this....at the 10 minute mark, Elizabeth had a hand ball inside the box. Jair stepped up and said I want the shot...He took a perfect penalty kick and put the ball on the ground in the left corner to tie the score at 3-3. The Thunder were not done yet....on a third penalty by Elizabeth...Tyler M executed another perfect in-direct kick....Mike C was at the far post and was able to put the ball in the left corner for a 4-3 lead with about 6 minutes to play. The Thunder held on and almost moved ahead 5-3 at the 2 1/2 minute mark. 4 goals in 14 minutes - I would say the finishing finally clicked in.
A great team win!! A great effort!! and a fun and entertaining game to watch!
Week E - Win - Monroe Thunder 4 - Middlesex Cyclones 2 --- Record 1-4-0 - Sunday 4/18/10
The start to the 2010 Monroe Thunder season is looking identical to the start of last spring’s start. After a tough winter indoor season, the Thunder ended up opening the outdoor season 0-6, 0-4 in the regular season and 0-2 in the Monroe Tournament. The Thunder did the same thing last spring, however, the circumstances are slightly different. last year it was more of an attitude adjustment this year, as we were not playing well. This spring, the Thunder are outplaying their opponents and all the games are very competitive, but we were just not making enough plays to get the victory. We just need to get a few breaks and put forth that little bit of extra effort to get over the hump. We essentially lost every game by 1 goal, however, we had more scoring opportunities than all our opponents, we just were not able to put the ball in the net enough to get a W. The Thunder are continuing to improve and everything we are working on they are taking to heart and improving. Our spacing and passing is much improved.
We decided to have a brief team meeting, similar to last year, we talked about what we needed to do as a team to get over the hump. We needed to put forth the effort to play a little bit harder, a little bit smarter, and find a way to score a higher percentage on the opportunities we had.
With that being said, The Monroe Thunder came out with a thunderous effort, right from the start. The Thunder jumped out to a 3-0 lead against a good Middlesex Cyclone team. This was also the first time this season we had a complete team. Our Strikers played extremely well. Tyler M started the scoring off with an excellent run down the sideline and put an excellent shot on the ball. Ryan W picked up a goal at his new position of center striker, both plays were initiated by strong passing from the mid-fielders. Mike C had a strong game in the first half and really made things happen at the right mid-field position. We are trying to get more speed on the front line, with Shawn, Ryan W, and Tyler M. I think we will be able to give the opposing teams alot of trouble with that speedy front line. Jair also had a nice goal, as he attacked from outside the 18 and made a run with a shot that rebounded off of the goalie and he put the rebound in with a nice left foot to the left far post.
The Thunder was up 3-0 and felt good at halftime, however, the Cyclones scored quickly in the beginning of the second half and the Thunder went a little flat. At about the 10 minute mark the Cyclones scored again to cut the lead at 3-2. Everybody felt a little pressure, the "here we go again" feeling was bubbling up. However, the boys sucked it up and started playing much more aggressive over the last 10 minutes. The Thunder had several opportunities to get an add-on goal, Shawn and Eric had a couple good opportunities and Ryan W, Ryan M, and Jair all had shots on goal. Tyler M and David S had a couple good runs on the right sideline. Finally, with about 8 minutes left, Tyler M was able to make a run and made a soft touch past the goalie and put the ball in the open net to give the Thunder a little cushion and a 4-2 lead.
I thought David A played his best game of the season at stopper, Ryan M, Joe Z, and Brandon W played a solid game on the defensive side of the ball. We did pull our defensive trap fairly effectively and pulled them offsides a couple times during the game. Ryan S made some good saves and Ethan was solid in goal.
It was a great win for us, we really needed to put up a "W" in the standings. I am looking for more good things the rest of the season, despite going into the tougher part of our schedule.
Great first Win!!
Week D - Loss - Monroe Thunder 2 - East Brunswick Inferno 3 --- Record 0-4-0 - Sunday, 4/11/10
Week C - Loss - Monroe Thunder 2 - Lawrence Panthers 3 --- Record 0-3-0 - Sunday, 3/28/10
After the Easter break, the Monroe Thunder returned home to face a familiar opponent, the East Brunswick Inferno. Once again, the Monroe Thunder were shorthanded as Jair missed the game again and David S re-injured himself. In the Fall, the Thunder handled the EB Inferno rather easily with a 4-0 win and we came out strong and played well.
During the last two weeks, we worked on our spacing and controlling the ball via box passing which entails back spacing, square spacing, and cross passing. The boys really executed this well, we saw an immediate impact with their play as we continuously controlled the ball with proper spacing and passing. We had many opportunities to score in the first half. This was a very unfortunate loss because we probably had 12-15 real opportunities to score, 6-8 one on one with the goalie and could only come away with 2 goals. That percentage really came back to haunt us, as East Brunswick only had 3 shots on goal and scored 3 goals all outside the 18 yard line. It was a game where we dominated and outplayed the opponent and still came up short. The Thunder is going to have to find a way to capitalize on our many opportunities.
In the first half we had 6 opportunites to score 1 on 1 vs the goalie and only came away with 1 goal. Tyler MacDonald had 4 separate breakaways and came away with 1 goal and Ryan Ward and Matt K also had breakaway opportunities and came away with good opportunities but no goals. Tyler also had a couple of good runs with some good crosses, however we could not come up with a goal. Eric had a couple good opportunities to score and Ryan W had a couple of runs at the goalie. To the goalies credit he came up and pressured our strikers and made some nice saves. Michael C hit the crossbar on a shot.
We ended up the first half down 2-1. We had 10 opportunites to score and East Brunswick had 2. Tyler M was able to score on a breakaway goal at the end of the first half. The Thunder kept the pressure up and scored the tieing goal on a cross from Tyler M and a diving header by Shawn which was hammered home by Matt K in front of the goal. This tied the game at 2-2. Tyler M had a few more runs on the goal and a few more crosses. Both Tyler, Eric S, Shawn, Matt, Ryan W, and Ryan M all had opportunites to put the Thunder in front and we were not able to capitalize. We still ended up dominating play, continued making good passes and maintained good spacing throughout the game.
With about 5 minutes left in the game, East Brunswick launched a shot from the outside the 18 to the upper far right corner. The goalie and the defense had very little chance of blocking or making the save. This was the 3rd straight goal by East Brunswick from outside the 18 where they launched a perfect hard long reaching shot. This put East Brunswick up 3-2 with about 5 minutes left.
We kept pressuring the cage and still had several opportunities to score towards the end of the game. We came up short and suffered another heartbreaking loss. The Thunder continue to play well, and simply have something happen during the game that prevents them from winning the game.
Overall a good effort and another tough loss. We continue to practice well and show improvement and I am confident we will get over the hump, even though we are moving to the tougher part of our schedule.
Week B - Loss - Monroe Thunder 1 - Livingston Lobos 3 --- Record 0-2-0 - Sunday, 3/21/10
The Monroe Thunder traveled into Livingston for a late game on Sunday afternoon and played at the beautiful Livingston HS turf field. The Thunder were playing shorthanded, Jair was missing, David S was not healthy, and both Matt and Ryan M were a little under the weather. Monroe played a listless first half, we lacked fire and emotion and were getting beat to the ball the entire first half. We had our chances to score but could not convert. We left our goalie hanging in the first half. Ryan made several good saves, but we left the back half of the goal open repeatedly and our mid-fielders were slow getting back. We gave up our first goal because the weakside defender was way out of position, and our weakside mid-fielder did not get back to mark the open man. It was a disappointing effort, but the team was made aware of what was done wrong. The second goal was a great shot by the Livingston stopper, however, again the midfielders missed their mark on the stopper which enabled the open shot to begin with. Monroe ended the half down 2-0 on two goals that the team as a whole gave up.
At halftime, the coaches made some adjustments, we moved David A back to right fullback, Joseph to left fullback ,Ryan M up to stopper, we moved Shawn G to left Midfielder, and moved Mike C to Right Midfielder, and David S was deemed out for the remainder of the game due to injury. We tried to maximize our speed in the mid-field and emphasized controlling the mid-field. We also challenged the team to go out and play aggressive, hard, and smart. They needed to go get two goals to tie the game and then let’s see what happens from there. Monroe was the superior team but they had to put forth the effort to prove it. I challenged them to show me their heart and provide 100% effort.
I was very happy with the effort in the second half. The Thunder dominated the second half. We played much better in the second half. In particular, I though Mike C had an outstanding second half, he moved faster, was much more aggressive and made alot of things happen down the right sideline. I was extremely happy with his effort. Tyler M made some high quality runs in the second half, he probably had 6-7 effective runs and crosses, he also was much more aggressive. In addition, he had a couple very nice corner kicks, one that we scored off of. Shawn G also played very well in the second half in the midfield position. There were several occasions where he caught the Livingston players from behind and disrupted their plays. He played well, Ryan W was also much more aggressive. I thought the defense as a whole played much better.
We scored a nice goal off of a Tyler M corner kick to make the score 2-1 at about the 15 minute mark. We then proceeded to hit the post twice, the cross bar once, the football goal post, and we missed several opportunities right in front of the net that looked like sure goals. One in particular that we practiced all day Saturday about getting any body part you can on a bouncing ball in front of the net. A couple of lucky bounces and we tie the game and/or event take the lead. The last goal that we gave up with about 20 seconds left in the game was immaterial, as we pulled both our stopper and sweeper up on offense to try and get the game tying goal and the goal kick was mishit.
Overall, a disappointing loss, but I was not unhappy becauses I think we turned the corner in the second half and really came together as a team and played extremely well, we were just unlucky. I really believe that we are poised to go on a run, like we typically do. I am sure the players are anxious to get back on the field for another game, because they feel like they should of won or tied the first two games, and they want to notch that first victory.
Week A - Loss - Monroe Thunder 1 - Greater Flemington 2 --- Record: 0-1-0 - Sunday, 03/14/10
The Monroe Thunder started the season off with a tough hard fought loss in the middle of a typical Noreaster. Amid high winds, heavy rain, and flooding throughout the week, the Thunder parents were able to setup the nets for the home opener of the Spring 2010 season. Thanks to all the parents who helped setup the nets in the rain prior to the game. When the game finally started at 1 pm the rain had finally stopped.
The Monroe Thunder started off by facing a familiar foe from the previous spring season, the last time we faced the Greater Flemington squad, Flemington dominated us with a 7-0 loss. Needless to say, I was a little nervous entering the game, but I thought if we played like we did at the end of the fall season we would be competitive. We ended up being much more than that, as the Monroe Thunder rumbled out to a 1-0 lead as Tyler Ward continued is torrid scoring from the winter season, where he led the Thunder in scoring. He beat the goalie on a one on one situation with a nice shot to the lower right corner. He took his time and got off a good shot just out of the reach of the goalie. That lead held up through the first half.
The defense played well in the first half, and Ryan made four very impressive saves. He played one of his strongest games. He made one save that Joe, Rich, and I all said goal when the Flemington halfback let it go to the upper 90 right corner from just inside the 18. It was a nice save. The defense played strong in the first half and the midfielders were able to give the strikers an opportunity for a couple of good runs in the first half. They obviously remembered Tyler M from the last time we played them, because they had all kinds of speed shadowing Tyler the whole game. We tried to switch it up a little, by making some inside runs rather than over the top. We will work on this as the season goes on.
We started to get hit by the injury bug in the second half, as Joe Z, David A, Ethan S, and David S had to leave the game because of injuries. This left us a little shorthanded and tired in the second half. The defense let up a tieing goal about mid way thorugh the second half. As one player dribbled through the heart of our defense and Ethan made an initial save before getting kicked in the head and the rebound was shot home by the Flemington striker.
The Second goal scored by Flemington came off a beautiful cross and head ball back against the grain and into the net. Sometimes the other team just makes a good play and that was one of those times. The good news is the Monroe Thunder did not give up and we made a late press to get our own game tieing goal. We did a better job of pressuring the ball at the mid-field stripe and we had several good opportunities to score. We just weren’t able to finish around the goal or inside the 18, Mike C had several opportunites to score, Jair had a nice shot just sail over the crossbar, Tyler W, Shawn G, Tyler M, and Ryan W all had opportunities to score. It was a well played game especially wihout having any full team practices prior to the start of the season.
A 2-1 loss against a team that beat us 7-0 last time was very encouraging. I even think that we outplayed Flemington especially the last 10 minutes, we just were not able to knock in another goal.
Overall, I am very happy with the effort and the play of the team. The boys were positive, kept their heads up, and played as a team. We will work on controlling the mid-field going fwd, and being much more aggressive inside the penalty box, but I think we will be fine!
Great first effort and I am really proud of the way we played!