Friday evening at Eckhardt Field had the Burr & Burton Bulldogs hosting Woodstock. The game started slowly but the Bulldogs eventually scored a little more than midway through the first half. This opened the door for two more quick goals and the Bulldogs pulled away with a 3-0 victory. Before the game, the players were asked what was their goal - wins or player development. Player development was the clear choice. So, what should they work on was the question? Finding feet and building up through the midfield. They were going to find their midfielder's centrally instead of just booting the ball upfield every time. They were also looking to find the feet of their forwards instead of just booting the ball. This was the core of their day - finding the players in front of them, penetrating with a purpose, and getting the back lines to push up and support for layoffs. At least that was the plan! Staying composed on the ball, trying to pass to your teammate, communicate that verbally and be successful - all while the opponent is tracking you down - is no easy task. It takes forethought, alacrity and precision. So how did they do?
The early going of the first half was slow and ineffective with players trying to kick the ball out of trouble. As time went on, however, players started to settle down and get comfortable - and slowly the combinations, through balls, and runs off the ball began to materialize. To be successful, a team needs to be dynamic and find different ways to penetrate a team’s defense. Brooke “she’s on her horse” Weber came off the bench and opened the scoring with a penetrating pass from Mia “sure dude” Sherwood. This whole play was set up by Sherwood who, on the ball, engaged the defender getting her to lean forward and commit. As the defender leaned forward (and in the wrong direction), Weber provided support forward and Sherwood slipped it through the seam. Weber easily put it past the keeper for the 1-0 lead. The second goal was set up by Livia “track star” Barclay. With a penetrating through pass that split the defenders from Tully “trimming” Trimmer (who was handcuffed a bit by an overzealous but well-intentioned ref), Barclay got in behind. Those through balls are deflating for a team! But Barclay's work wasn’t over as the defender quickly closed her down and gave her little room to work with. Barclay calmly turned and laid the ball off for Casey “the communicator” Vogel. Vogel saw Brielle “doctor” Proctor smartly staying wide on the right side and the switch was on. With a great pass by Vogel across the field, Proctor smoothly knocked it in. The “up, back and through plus a switch and then a tap in “ was on! Finally, an assist by Proctor to Sherwood closed out the scoring for the first half as well as the game.
Notable mentions were captain Addison “I’ll put my cape on and catch up to you in a heartbeat” Kujoivsky who smartly allowed slightly more room in the back giving herself a little more safety when it came to transitions for the other team’s attack. There were a couple of chances for Woodstock but nothing the Bulldogs couldn't contain. BBA’s other center-back, Graciana “dare to not be aware” Maier, was unbelievable in jumping passes all game to any opponents underneath. That type of disruption changes the character of any game as the ball keeps being hammered back down toward the opponents’ keeper. Captain Alexa “poised under pressure” Witkin had a great one-touch volley that the Woodstock keeper made a great reaction save on. Nicole Mackson, Lily Cole, Lucy Farrell, Laurel Baker, Halyn McIntyre and Hannah Cyr had strong showings as well and helped support the attack as well as anchor the defense. All six sophomores are considered the heart of the team with their attitude, work ethic, and communication on the field. Keeper Hannah “positivity” Troumbley was proactive in goal coming out to clear any potential chances for Woodstock. An active goalie can prevent a lot of unnecessary action in front of the box and literally add years to the life of any coach. This one can use those extra miles. Finally, rookie Delana “shrewd” Underwood helped in the backline and fought successfully for more than a few 50/50 balls. No fear from her and her future looks bright.
All in all, there are a few things to work on but the team is playing together nicely. It’s fun to sometimes just sit back and watch the grit these players put into their practices and games. One has to respect and Honor their Effort. (There were no interviews for this game). Next up, CVU on Monday. Come on out.