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SMHS 10-0 Morrow

posted Apr 22, 2017, 11:04 AM by John Bowen

April 17th 2017
by Gordon Weidle

Interesting view from the bird’s nest watching Coach put the line up in a blender on Senior Night with my trusty spotter Nick who added color commentary. A night when we acknowledged the effort and sacrifice of Patrick Bonilla and Mick Pattison over the last 4 years. Job well done gentleman but let’s put a cherry on the sundae with a deep play-off run! I knew this was going to be an interesting evening when I had to ask their coach several times for the line-up card so I could announce his side and he had to enlist the women’s coach for assistance in figuring that out. Kudo’s to the visitors however for sportsmanship and hanging in there despite knowing the inevitable. It must be like stubbing your toe and waiting for the pain to reach your cerebellum. Speaking of line up in a blender, how fun was it to see Mick and Leo Samba up top. Mick taking set pieces, Samba on a break away. I was wondering if Leo might revert to defensive conditioning and pass the ball back to the wrong keeper on one of his jaunts but all good. The highlight for me was Mick getting the 9th goal and watching the bench have some fun with the celebration. Won’t detail all of the goals but as a recap. Patrick Bonilla with one, Jack Baker with 2, Ryan Shanahan with 2, Sam Pompeo with 3 and Leo Bueno with 1. A game where the guys had some fun finishing regional play but back to work now with a tilt against Walton tonight as a tune up and then the playoffs starting next Friday. This would be a good time to start playing your best soccer Panthers!

SMHS 2-1 Whitewater

posted Apr 17, 2017, 4:55 PM by John Bowen   [ updated Apr 17, 2017, 4:58 PM ]

April 13th 2017
by Gordon Weidle

For those of you wondering what happened to the McIntosh write up. My grade one English teacher told me never to write angry, before spring break or a kinda pink moon. Feeling a sense of obligation and responsibility however I wrote it anyway in invisible ink. Onward to Whitewater in a key regional game that needed to be won. Good to see the bucket brigade back and modifying the beat to a more subdued tone. I was extremely worried they were going to get tossed for a third straight game which makes managing their future appearances more challenging. Our guys came out with a sense of urgency and had their first decent chance 6 minutes in when a ball from Patrick to Sam was nearly converted. It was obvious that this was not the same Senior laden Whitewater squad from last year. Our midfield had acres of space. John Roberts, Leo Bueno and Ryan Shanahan pushed the ball around with very minimal pressure. Always good to control the ball and have the other team chase but you need to convert chances when created. Good to see some experimentation in the line-up with Patrick and Jonathan switching wings. This translates to a tendency to turn inside on a defender in the box to utilize the power foot. With our inability to score Whitewater hung around however and converted on a corner in the 39th minute. Desperation time to get the equalizer had officially commenced. Whitewater scored its second goal just after half time in the 44th minute. Good thing it was over the defensive goal line. This goal was aided by a nice side line run from Jonathan Ulversoy who crossed the ball with enough hot sauce where in a move of self -preservation it went in off the defender’s head into his net. 1-1. SM continued to press but the ball was not going in despite the constant pressure and a number of good chances. Then in the 74th minute a shot appeared from Heaven. Leo Bueno launched an inter galactic missile from about 35 yards out that found top corner for the lead. It was a goal that would have made the highlights in the Premiership. Leo acknowledged the divine intervention by looking skyward. The guys got it done again with a key regional win. Bring on Senior night and Morrow.

SMHS 3 East Coweta 2

posted Mar 27, 2017, 6:03 AM by John Bowen

March 24th 2016
by Gordon Weidle

Both the Bucket Brigade and the Panthers started with energy under the lights Friday Night. The Brigade brought some life to the stadium with their chart topping rendition of “Work the Wrists” and the Panthers started to attack from the opening whistle. The speed difference of the SM attack vs the EC defense would be evident all evening and was a factor in the opening goal. In the 3rd minute, Jonathan Ulversoy shook off a defender and crossed to Sam Pompeo who finished for a quick lead. The Panthers continued to press and capitalized again in the 17th minute when Patrick Bonilla led a defender for a 20-yard gallop before crossing a ball that Pompeo lunged for and the keeper was not able to handle. The ball continued to bounce across the box and Brandon Weidle tapped home after a long run from the midfield for a 2-0 lead. So, as mentioned ad nauseam in just about every write-up, if you go forward with the play you will either be rewarded with a scoring opportunity or you will improve your fitness in getting forward and back. So, you benefit either way. Then an interesting turn of events. The Brigade and the team both went silent at seemingly the same time. Apparently, an EC spectator became annoyed with the drum beat and the mounting score and wanted both to stop. They took out their frustration with a request to silence the creativity. I was annoyed as well and was planning on recreating a scene out of the Bad News Bears by leading the chant of “Let them Play, Let them Play.” Fortunately, it didn’t come to that as parents and administrators got involved to resolve the issue.

In the interim, however, our team seemed to lose some energy as well content to sit back on the lead. Combine this with a pretty good offside trap and flag happy officials, we were having trouble putting EC away. As a result they got back into the game just after half time with a strike to reduce the insurance to 2-1. The “ Brigade” started up again although somewhat less vigorously switching to Smooth Jazz instead and the Panthers regained their rhythm as well. The Panthers scored the nicest goal of the evening in the 51st minute. Jonathan Ulversoy won a ball in the defensive zone. He looked up and saw Ryan Shanahan straddling the center line in a gaping hole between 2 defenders. Jonathon pushed a great ball into his path. Shanahan did the rest and dribbled half the field with the ball velcroed to his feet with 2 defenders giving chase. He made his way into the box drifting slightly right and waited for the keeper to come out and challenge before hitting a grounder under pressure into the far corner for a 2-goal lead. The Panthers again sagged in energy and the pesky Indians would not concede quietly coming back with a goal of their own with 10 minutes left. Despite some anxious moments the Panthers hung on extending their record to 10-2-1. 

To the “Bucket Brigade.” Based on how much EC seems to appreciate you I have gone to their administration with the request that they allow you to play a few songs at their upcoming prom. If successful, please wear your Starr’s Mill spirit wear. Let them Play… Let them Play…

SMHS 5 Fayette Co 0

posted Mar 22, 2017, 11:59 AM by John Bowen

March 21st 2017
by Gordon Weidle

As the plot thickens in the week before the Battle of the Troops showdown, the McIntosh Forensics unit were out in full force Tuesday night and the Panther performance gave them a lot to think about. With a legion of scouts in attendance, I am surprised they were not conducting parent interviews to determine player injuries and allergies. On a night when pre-game chatter consisted of a stronger Fayette Squad taking the field because of returning DA players and the fact that Jonathon Ulversoy was out due to illness some trepidation hung in the air like smog. "No need to be nervous parents," the players demonstrated. We will just take care of our business like we pretty much have all season long! Another very solid performance from the opening whistle. When this team is awake and ready to dictate the pace from the opening toot they gain confidence, which leads to attacking soccer and goals, which leads to extinguishing the will of the opponent and ultimately more goals. Defensive pressure early on was the key. 

Fayette coughed up the ball on numerous occasions in the back third which parlayed into chances. The pickle officially left the jar in the 22nd minute. Leo Bueno danced samba around a couple of defenders and got off a shot that deflected to Jack Baker who hit a low left footer into the corner. How about the goal production from Jack and Sam this year? Michael Lantz made a critical momentum changing save two minutes later on a long shot that he was not expecting. He was able to get his hands on a ball that went over the bar. The Panthers went back to work in the 29th minute. A great overlap from Sammy Shlapak exploited unoccupied space and made a run to the end line. Instead of just crossing a ball anywhere, he actually looked up to see Ryan Shanahan in an open position. Sammy pushed a ball low to Ryan who hit a one timer. The ball hit a defender but bounced back to him and he converted from a bad angle to make it 2-0. Coach has been able to use Sammy in a variety of positions this year. In the 33rd minute the Panthers put this one on ice. There was a hard foul on the edge of the box. Shanahan curled a beautiful free kick around the wall that the keeper waved at. I couldn’t help but look back at the scouting department after every goal with a smile on my face thinking, “Chew on that piece of beautiful football.” 

The Panthers came on the pitch with that same swagger and confidence in the second half and didn’t let up. How many times have you read, "good things happen when you go forward?" A perfect example was found in the 46th minute. Patrick Bonilla again took his defender to the wrong side of a YouTube highlight as he has done all season and crossed a ball with the right pace over defenders and the keeper alike. Brandon Weidle made a long run from his defensive mid position and that effort was rewarded with a ball at the perfect height he needed to steer it into the net. There was a better use of his head in this game. With the back line firmly anchored by Leo Samba, Luke Bennett, Michael Haynes, Blake Helms and Mick Pattison, who were playing the ball calmly out of the back on most occasions, the midfield was free to do what they do best – attack! With 2 minutes left, Jack Baker earned his second of the night when he out battled defenders and the keeper to push home the Panther 5th goal. This is now getting very interesting with the Panthers ranked 4th in 5A but should move up after this solid effort. Well Done!

SMHS 4 Woodward Academy 1

posted Mar 20, 2017, 8:45 AM by John Bowen

March 17th 2017
by Gordon Weidle

What a tremendous team effort and character building evening on a night which was rife with challenge and adversity. Playing away against a good team the game started quickly without player introductions or the anthem. Obviously, Country Club reservations for dinner were pending later that evening. I had expected Hors d’oeuvres and umbrella drinks but that didn’t happen either. The Panther bench was already thin to start with Michael Haynes out due to Illness and John Roberts still sidelined with a leg injury. The depth of the squad was further depleted in the second minute when there was a scary head - knock between Mick Pattison and Brandon Weidle. Both players were going for a ball to clear and not seeing each other smacked noggins. Both went down hard and lay on the deck for a period that made everybody uncomfortable on both teams including the fans in the stands regardless of who they were supporting. One of those moments where you put competition aside and focus instead on the health and well being of the athlete. A moment where all small talk ceases and you can feel the genuine concern. Both players were helped off the field and full credit to the Woodward trainer who took charge and assessed the guys for symptoms. Coach made it apparent that he would not take any further risks and Mick and Brandon’s night was over almost before it had started. 

Play was understandably scrambled for a few minutes afterwards but then the entire Panther team elevated their play, significantly, led by tremendous performances from Ryan Shanahan and Leo Bueno in the midfield. They put this team on their shoulders and every Panther followed their lead. The Panther momentum would not be denied once it started and the first goal came in the 25th minute. The “formula” again produced results. Bonilla crossed the ball. The diminutive Woodward keeper could not secure the ball as he went up and Jonny on the spot headed it back towards goal. Sam Pompeo elevated as the ball drifted towards him and flicked it backwards and watched as it dribbled over the line. A header relay so to speak. The Panthers celebrated as did the faithful. Just before the half Jack Baker launched a right-footed missile which found the upper half of the corner and the War Eagles seemed stunned and off balance. 

The Panthers continued to “feel” it in the second half. Brimming with confidence Bueno even tried a ‘ Maradona” move to spin around a defender to gain a throw in. In the 57th minute he again shredded the War Eagle defense and got the ball to Sam Pompeo who pushed it past a prone Woodward keeper who had not grown in stature from the first half. 3-1 Panthers but they were not done yet and wanted to put an exclamation mark on this one. In the 78th minute Sam Pompeo finished for this 3rd of the evening and the Panthers won it 4-1. The Panthers to a man were excellent in achieving this victory. How do you end such a memorable evening? The bus not starting of course. The Pattison’s and I appreciate all those who reached out to check on the well being of the guys. As you know, both are fine and anxious to get back in this week. It will be good to have more players ready to go as we head into the heart of the schedule before spring break.

SMHS 2 Riverdale 0

posted Mar 15, 2017, 10:58 AM by John Bowen

March 14th 2017
by Gordon Weidle

Kudos to the hearty souls that braved the arctic blast Tuesday night where the visiting Riverdale Raiders were hoping for a “ Miracle on Ice. “ People were so bundled up It looked like a "Michelin Man" convention. After the Panther Ladies annihilated the Lady Raiders, the boys started somewhat lethargically which was not overly surprising considering the mercury in the thermometer was not moving either. It was another talent mismatch where the Panthers attacked early and often. It started in the 7th minute on a corner where the Panthers lined up on the edge of the box in mass and broke for the line when the ball was kicked creating a scoring chance. It became apparent early on to Panther players and the bench with Coach emphasizing the point to ensure nobody was confused that the correct answer tactically was to get the ball wide to the flanks and have Pompeo, Baker, Ulversoy and Bonilla use their speed to beat defenders to the line and cross the ball back across the box. A formula especially productive when the forwards lead the defenders deep into the six yard box and the midfielders get forward perching on the edge of the 18 yard box waiting for a cross that is cut diagonally back away from traffic or for a ball deflected or not cleared out completely. How effective was this recipe? The Panthers had a total of 24 shots and 14 corners on a net that is 24 feet wide and 8 feet to the crossbar. Soccer is a simple game. If it works and you get results keep doing it. If it doesn’t work adjust and try something else immediately. That’s where player Intelligence and field awareness becomes the difference. Possession and build up were good but it just wasn’t going in. It happens some time. Believe me when I tell you, it’s a lot tougher on the field than it looks from Row 30. It was obvious the Raiders were playing for respectability and not to be blown out by another regional opponent. 

As the first half went on we needed to score to break spirit and confidence. It was only a matter of time with the quality of chances we were getting. It happened in the 31st minute. Brandon Weidle picked up a ball in the midfield and moved forward. His initial thought was to go wide to Bonilla. As he started to drift to his left, he decided to avoid congestion and selected a better option by pivoting to his right to beat a defender and make his way back to the middle. He continued to move forward as he was not challenged. At 26.3 yards out he looked up and decided to have a go. He ripped a shot past a diving keeper into the corner. The stalemate was broken and everybody expected more at that point. But on this night, the “Soccer Gods” put plexi-glass from post to post on most of the shots the Panthers took. They are sneaky that way but were napping or warming up for the second Panther goal in the 60th minute. The “formula” worked again. Ulversoy to the line, crossed a screamer, Pompeo created traffic and the ball rolled out to Bonilla who took it well. Instead of dropping his head and hitting it hard he took the time to look up and judge where the keeper stood. He wisely decided placement over power was the best option and pushed a ball between the keeper’s legs for the insurance goal. That’s where it ended. 2-0. Panthers still clean in regional play. Shout out to Mick Pattison who moved deep into the attack all night and Blake Helms , Luke Bennett and Kyle Soto who maintained possession and also played positive attacking Soccer.

SMHS 1 Columbus 2

posted Mar 11, 2017, 12:33 PM by John Bowen

March 10th 2017
by Gordon Weidle

Hope you enjoyed the double header at Panther Stadium Friday night. Same 2 teams playing 2 different games. In the first game, as mentally alert and as ready to play as the Panthers were, I had to check my phone to see if this game was a PM or an AM start. The Panthers played ‘ Bare Minimum” Soccer in the first game. Let me define the term in this context. Bare minimum soccer is having 4 Panthers provide a “ police escort “ to a Columbus Forward who ran 25 yards deep into the box in the first minute without making contact and then watching as he pushed a ball from an impossible angle into the goal for a 1-0 lead. Bare minimum soccer was the midfield pushing a ball forward and then standing to watch the 2 forwards battle 5 defenders while they kept the backline company to ensure that the 6 of them didn’t get beat by the single forward in a possible counter-attack. Bare Minimum soccer is punting the ball from the back line or midfield and then standing to wait for the next attack while a 35 yard gap exists that the opponent is playing in without moving forward. Talent and “Bare Minimum’ is usually enough to beat a completely over-matched Griffin or a Sandy Creek but not a good team or even a decent one. On a night where the Panthers were on a roll and had been playing good consistent soccer to this point, against a team that they beat in the second round of the playoffs last year, and on a night where they had an opportunity to measure themselves against an opponent who was beaten by McIntosh 4-1. There was a lot of standing and watching and not a lot of participating in game 1. Columbus simply had a higher tempo, a bigger engine, won more 50/50 balls and played with the intensity and grit of a team that wanted to win. Sorry Gentleman! There are no participation trophies at this level or credit for what you have done in the past. Always Earned, Never Given! 

Then came half time and an awakening as the alarm clock rang. Game 2 started and the Panthers fielded a new starting 11. A team that started to play and not watch, battle and grind, go forward and attack, play with a sense of urgency and purpose, and pressure by reducing time and space thus having the opponents cough up the ball. This re-birth led to a great opportunity almost immediately where Pompeo hit the crossbar on a head ball 3 minutes in. 2 minutes later Bonilla injected more enthusiasm into his teammates and the Panther faithful in the stands by drilling a left footer into the back of the net from close in to put us on the score board. The offensive onslaught continued with Ulversoy and Shanahan hitting rockets off the post 5 minutes apart. Sam Pompeo also hit a crossbar as he pushed the ball past the keeper. There was an electricity in the stands and on the field as the Panthers attacked while Columbus tried to hang on by wasting time, drawing fouls on desperate tackles and embellishing cramps and contact by milking the clock whenever they could. A very exciting second half/game where the Panthers deserved to win but it was not to be. The positives in this one? The Panthers showed character and determination by not packing the cooler and leaving the beach once the dark clouds of adversity rolled in. They played very well in game 2 despite the loss in a non-conference game. Riverdale is next in an important conference game Tuesday night. Let’s all participate in this one and set the alarm clock to go off before kick-off.

SMHS 10 Griffin 0

posted Mar 3, 2017, 10:58 AM by John Bowen

March 2nd 2017
by Gordon Weidle

As I rolled into town I encountered a sign, ‘ Welcome to Griffin, the Iris City.” I drove and drove, and drove some more. Not only did I not see any Iris’s, I couldn’t find the stadium either. Even when I finally did find the stadium it was empty which created further doubt. In the first regional game I expected at least some home field excitement. As it turned out the SM parents, who travel well, far outnumbered the home fans because there were very few. As in 2 total. Adding insult to embarrassment, our parents who arrived early and sat behind the team bench, were asked to move to the other side of the stands to the visitor’s section. In a completely empty stadium!?!? Safe to say that Griffin is unlikely to be Major League Soccer’s second Georgia franchise based on soccer interest and hospitality. 

As the game started both teams were trying to get a read on each other. Play was a little sloppy but it became evident early that although Griffin was scrappy and would not quit, they were no match from a talent and speed perspective. As we say in Canada “ way over their ski’s” in this one which, if you ski, you know never ends well. Panthers struck the statistics early and often. The first goal came in the 9th minute. Ulversoy crossed a ball which the keeper completely misjudged as the ball bounced right over this head to Pompeo who directed it into an open net. Pompeo again a few minutes later as he out raced a very inexperienced back line and pushed easily past the keeper for a 2-0 lead. My fingers started to cramp as I reached for my pen to scribe into history a recount of the news of goal number 3. This one was off a corner by Patrick Bonilla which was redirected by a defender into his own goal. In the 19th minute the shellacking was in full display as Pompeo, in again, went around the goalie to tap in. In the 20th minute Jonathan decided he wanted to end up on scorer’s sheet as well and hit a nice shot into the corner. Brandon Weidle got the next one on he hit a shot just inside the box into that same corner which was now reserved for Panther goals. Four things happened simultaneously at that point. The scoreboard started to flicker like it might short out and the Griffin keeper started looking for the hook and took himself out of the game. Then the referee and I ran out of ink. Thankful that my stationary and writing utensil suppliers, the Bonilla’s, were in attendance. Kyle Soto and Luke Bennett came in on the wings and had fun weaving around defenders and getting balls into and across the box. Luke was rewarded with his first goal of the season as he was able to get himself at the end of a cross to tip home the 7th. At this point the countdown was on for “Mercy rule’. Both teams wanted that to happen. Not a lot of improvement or real enjoyment occurs in such a mis-match. 

After the Linesman iced his shoulder from lifting his flag to call off sides ,play resumed in the second half and so did the Panther scoring. Jack Baker from a nice cross by Kyle Soto recorded the 8th. In the 50th minute we received a free kick from 34.6 yards out. As the players assessed the situation, the new Griffin keeper wandered out of his net. He walked to the edge of the 6 yard box and I thought he was on his way to join the wall which would have been a first. Although he backed up slightly, he was still about 5 yards from his line. Weidle, on the ball, noticed the same thing. At that point there was a Weidle mind meld …Chip Him! Weidle lofted a floater over the keeper into the far corner for number 9. Parents immediately started to think dinner plans which were imminent. Jack made that happen before the ride home plans were finalized scoring the 10th shortly afterwards. Check out the highlights on Hudl.com. Thanks Allan for taping the games. 7-1-1 and the bus rollsor, since we live in the Airline Corridor and want to pay homage to our pilot parents:  "We have now reached our cruising altitude .. please enjoy your Flight!"

SMHS 2 Blessed Trinity 1

posted Mar 1, 2017, 10:29 AM by John Bowen

February 27th 2017
by Gordon Weidle

Thrills, Spills and Chills at the “Home of the Titans” in another entertaining spectacle Monday Night. The Panthers started fast unlike the bus that carried them north. Again, we pressed early and attacked well from the flanks and were dangerous on in-swinging corners all night getting heads and other body parts on curving balls. What is truly frightening to a goal keeper and defenders on a corner kick is mass movement. If an offensive player is standing on a re-start he is easy to mark. If he is moving much more difficult. If a number of players are moving at the same time exponentially more difficult to defend. Mass movement creates confusion and chaos among the defense. This was evident when the Panthers lined up about 6 players at the edge of the box and rushed in at the same time on an early corner. Combine that with a well placed in swinging kick that is out from the line about 8 yards in an area where the keeper feels reluctant to commit you have a higher probability scoring opportunity. The Panthers had several and one which led to the first goal. After a few early saves from Michael Lantz, who was "Man of the Match,” the Panthers struck first on a rush towards goal on a corner in the 37th minute. Brandon Weidle hung back slightly as the ball careened off the mass of bodies in front of him. Weidle did well to trap the ball, push it slightly clear of a defender in front of him and drilled a lethal left footer under a keeper that wasn’t Spider Man enough to get down in time. It was a nice clinical finish by Weidle who had a very strong game in the midfield in both directions. Up 1-0 at the half the parents settled back down after engaging with a Titan Parent who was ‘ Chirping” all game. 

We continued to set the tempo and continued to have some good chances. The insurance goal came in the 66th minute. Jonathan Ulversoy did well to cross a ball that the keeper bobbled and Sam Pompeo aggressively went through a defender to get his body on it and direct it over the line. 2-0 good guys. Then the Panthers sagged and made a mistake that every team is guilty of which usually costs them… and it cost us. The tendency is go into a defensive shell by dropping numbers back and playing panic soccer to try and hold the lead. Although you need to play smart with a lead by slowing the tempo and not chasing the ball in the offensive half where there is minimal risk, relinquishing possession with no desire to move forward makes a desperate team hungrier because they are on the ball and getting scoring chances. It is better to make the other team chase by continuing to move forward then feeding spirit and desire by hanging back and giving them scoring chances and the hope that they can come back. The “Sag” led to the Titan first goal in the 71st minute. Then the game entered another dimension by going into twilight zone. In the 77th minute. Michael Lantz was given a questionable Yellow Card which meant he needed to come off the field. Mick Pattison slid on the mitts and went into the goal. About a minute later another Sag led to a scramble in the box and a 50/50 collision which put a Titan on the turf. The Referee pointed to the PK spot as parents looked on incredulously. Michael Lantz came back in and was clearly amped up. He was bouncing up and down and It looked like he might hit his head on the cross bar. Michael wanted this save badly and he willed himself to stop it. A pretty good shot but Michael guessed the right direction and got down blocking it. Because of the velocity of the shot, the ball bounced back to the shooter who hit another shot that Lantz was able to smother. Exceptional goal keeping to preserve the win. Another strong effort by our Panthers. Regional play starts tomorrow against Griffin. The Panthers are off to a 5-1-1 start and playing well.

SMHS 1 Marist 1

posted Feb 25, 2017, 1:56 PM by John Bowen   [ updated Feb 25, 2017, 1:58 PM ]

February 24th 2017
by Gordon Weidle

C’mon Panther Nation. Where are all fans? Where else in the Bubble are you going to get this much entertainment for 6 bucks? We had a very good game between 2 excellent teams. We had very spotty referring. We had cirque du soleil with one of the War Eagles doing a somersault over his own bench and ending up back on the field. We had a not so jolly blue Giant playing for Marist. We had 1 player from each team that could throw the ball out of Fayette County. This was better than 2 hours on Netflix. Another solid performance by our Panthers. Encouraged that this team is now, after the first three games, playing consistently well which sets the table for upcoming conference play. Lots of good individual performances on this warm Friday Night. Happy to see Leo Samba back in the lineup after injury. Coach slotted him into a relatively new position at center back but Leo looked comfortable. He has the physical tools and temperament to play the position. Strong and fast enough to run down strikers and win balls yet composed enough to play and not spray balls out of the back under pressure. Both teams came out playing fast and aggressive. Not a lot of sustained possession because both teams were quick to shut down time and space but there were scoring chances on both ends. Marist leveraged their personnel. Specifically the Giant who they positioned in the offense and defense box on throw-ins and corners and then tried to find his head. They also asked him to report on the weather since he was the first to know of any changes. SM defenders did a pretty good job with a man behind and in front of him. I noticed that Sam Pompeo was very physical with him and made a point of moving back into the box to make contact with him which was effective. Michael Lantz also used his instincts to get to a few balls early in and out of the box to prevent War Eagles from getting there first. Michael Haynes also did well getting a foot on a ball that surely would have found glory in the 12th minute. In the 25th minute Bonilla crossed a ball to Pompeo who narrowly put a ball over the bar on a head knock. In the 26th minute Marist clearly played a ball with a hand and we were awarded with a PK. Leo Bueno stepped up confidently and drove a ball low corner past a helpless keeper who had a strong performance overall. The Panthers continued to press and played a nice set piece a couple of minutes later. Mick had a free kick from about 40 yards out. Marist expecting a ball into the box crowded all of their players back and Blake Helm stepped up to exploit the space and take a short kick which he gained another 10 yards of offensive space on and curled a nice kick into the box which was dangerous. Love the quick restarts! When the whistle blows players tend to stop paying attention and drop their heads which can be taken advantage of. Sadly, the team in possession usually do the same thing. In the second half the refereeing started to unravel. The referee seemed to think he needed to even out the penalty calls by awarding Marist a PK. This one wasn’t even close. The Marist player clearly held Michael Lantz as they both scrambled for a loose ball. Heart rates were clearly spiking in the stands as fans were incensed. 1-1. The official clearly lost control at this point and players started to tee off on each other and yellow cards being handed out like speeding tickets on Highway 74. The game ended knotted at 1 but all things considered it was a fair result between two very good teams.

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