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.