16 September v. Alliance: 

Since Alliance is a new team this season, little did we know that this is Orange Crush Select -- the best of Orange Crush's summer team plus a few added ringers.  Actually, watching their synchronized warm-up drills and noting their custom, color-coordinated, dark green team table and cooler provided a clue that something was not as it should be in the bottom of the coed rec league.  Then there was the deeper issue of their manager's  color-coordinated, dark green hair....  Some of those folks were probably out of high school, but not many.

In any event, score notwithstanding, we played a pretty good game.  It seemed to be one of the friendlier matches and, frankly, I was pleasantly surprised at how well we were able to move the ball around against a well organized opponent.  Other than a freaky women's goal at the 15-minute mark and a couple breakaways we played them pretty evenly.  

Decent turnout for a rainy, humid, mosquito-infested night -- we had an extra woman and two guy subs.  The mosquitoes were as big as B-52s and as thick as hair on a yak.  People standing on the sideline lost so much blood they looked like deflated beach balls by the end of the match.  But I digress....  We actually had more shots on goal than they did, but we were stymied by unusually good play from their keeper and by being just a half-step and/or a few centimeters off with our shots.  We were passing well most of the time, particularly into and out of the midfield, which is usually an indicator of a good night for us.  Putting Frances back on the defensive line seemed to work pretty well, and should work better as we adjust to that lineup.

Frances, Vincent, Bill, Marina, Patti, Joe, Alex, and, late in the game, Charlie and Tony worked very well together on defense.  Frances, Vincent and Bill all had some key, monster stops and clearances.  We were passing so well that we tended to push upfield a bit through overlapping, which left us a little vulnerable to the quick counterattack by a couple of Appliance's particularly fast strikers.  Geoff really never had much of of a chance at those that did make it into the net, but, other than that, he had a pretty easy night at keeper.  Either through strategic planning or fatigue, there was a pretty big gap in the middle of the field some of the time.  Fortunately, much of that time, balls were being passed out of the defense accurately enough for our folks caught way up to get to them first.  Fortunately too, Alliance had the same problem, thus leaving the center of the field truly empty.  All the midfielders (Charlie, Kristen, Maria, Joe, Dante, Tony and Patti) seemed to have good hunting finding open spaces, and either overlapping to the front, or passing the ball up to the forwards.  Our forwards had a good night, and, with an average keeper-Appliance, they would have had several goals.  Shots by Alex, Frances, Tony and Joyce could have gone in, and the overlapping midfielders had several quality shots as well, particularly a couple lefties from the top of the box by Joe that went just high and wide. 

The final tally was a bit awful, but not a true indicator of the quality of the game.  Final score: 0-4
23 September v. Juggernaut F.C. (narrative by JS): 

A strange and savage journey to victory in coed recreational soccer.

We were somewhere around field L-3 when the drugs began to take hold. All of the sudden the skies were full of what looked like huge black blood sucking pterodactyls shrieking. Oh, those were just the mosquitoes.

We had just enough players to field a full side with no substitutes (6 men and 5 women). The players still outnumbered the lone Pinguinos spectator--Bill -- whose rousing rendition of "You'll never walk Alone" was the highlight of the crowd. On to the game. We started out in the standard 4-4-2 lineup which sort of morphed into a 4-3-3 as the first half wore on. The first 10 minutes had the Pinguinos and the Jugheads looking for control. As time went on, we found our attacking lanes and began to attack at will down the wings. Kristen, Dante, and Charlie started attacking through the right flank with great triangular passing and overlapping runs. Meanwhile, Joyce, Steve, Maria, and Alex were controlling the left hand side of the field. Kudos to Charlie and Steve as they shut down the midfield from attacks. The Juggernauts made several runs at goal but were shut down by the defense. Vincent and Fran anchored the central defense with Vincent playing the stopper role and Fran at sweeper. Marina and Joyce held the outside flanks and repeatedly stalled out the opponents attack. Roughly 20 minutes into the first half Dante, Kristen, and Alex combined on a three-pass combination in the box. 1-0 to the Pinguinos with Alex taking the goal. Thirty minutes later, in a repeat of the first goal, although I think Dante got the second. 2-0 Pinguinos. Wonderful passing and control from the entire team. At this point the Jugheads panicked and moved some of their better midfielders into defense to stop the bleeding. They did mount some attacks on goal which were defended smartly. Their closet chance was a cross defected off the crossbar by Joe (filling in for Geoff at keeper).

The second half saw much of the same type of play. Up and down the field The offense wore them out physically while the defense shut them down. Twenty minutes into the second half the opponents were pretty much wore out. They continued to attack (they had 4-5 subs) but with little success until 30 minutes into the second half. A terrible shot got past Joe probably from an offside striker but the ref counted it. Then came the whining opponents. One Juggernaut/double-naught was yellow carded for unsporting conduct. Apparently, he was fouled by Steve and flew off into a tourettes syndrome fueled tirade. He should have been tossed but the referee (the silver haired Mr. Potatohead from last week) was there to make yet another randomly determined call. The Juggernauts were then given a sympathy penalty for a take down in the box about a minute later. Joe pushed the kick (bearing on the goal with the speed of a tortoise) to the lower left around the post and that pretty much was the opponents last chance to steal any points. The final 10 minutes were spent closing out the game. Final whistle 2-1.

Overall, a fantastic team effort. Everyone played great team soccer for 90 minutes, especially with no subs. Very few mistakes. The were no open spaces on the pitch and the passing was good. A hard played well deserved victory to get back to winning ways.
30 September v. Team Thunder: 

Team Thunder is back.  Didn't recognize too many of the players except the big guy who trampled me late in the game.  They were young.  There were hordes of them.  We had one guy sub, but we were old(er), wise, and mean.  So, it was about even.

Early on we were passing ball tentatively and giving up control while they had pretty good luck bringing the ball down to about the 25 meter mark.  The Donnerheads weren't having much luck getting past that point so they were shooting from outside to little effect.  Most of the shots went way wide or right to Joe in the goal.  After a while we started settling down and the space around their goal stared opening up.  Dante, Bill, Tony and Kristen began working the ball in and taking shots.  Unfortunately, with the small goal at Cullen A and the gargantuan keeper, nothing went in.  About 15 minutes in they managed to eke out a goal on a good shot out of a furball in front of the net.  We continued to explore the soft underbelly of their defense with Dante and Tony dribbling inside their penalty box with increasing impunity.  All this culminated in Tom's first goal in eight years following a sweet short pass from Dante to the top of the goal box.  One touch and a quick left-footed toe-poke put the ball under the keeper and into the net to even the score at one each.  The Thunderclaps added a second score late in the half on a pretty, floating lob from the midfield that went in just under the bar and just over Joe's fingertips. 

The game went back and forth most of the second half with both defenses dominating.  That is until Tony resumed his harassment of their defense and after several good runs finally got one in with about 15 minutes left.  Someone (Dante?) gave him a great through pass, putting him alone with the keeper where he put the ball in the goal past the charging Nimbus and then paid the price.  Fortunately, he's pretty pliable and was unhurt.

The defense had a good night with Frances and Vincent anchoring the middle and Joyce, Marina and Steve slowing things down on the wings.  Vincent was particularly good at filling in the deserted midfield late in the game on our corner kicks, and Fran effectively shut down the middle of their offense, running down their strikers on numerous occasions.  Marina had a particularly good night with some great stops, taking one in the face for the team in the process.  Joyce moved up to midfield in the second half and Steve dropped back to wing fullback.  Both made good overlapping runs from their new positions.  The center midfield/striker slots were played well by Tony, Dante, Bill, Steve, and Tom, with Kristen running, and running, and running some more on the right side.  She was able to find the right open spot many times and had several good chances to score, but a bit of bad luck or not getting the ball kept her off the scoreboard.  Next time.  Dante made the key passes that set up at least one of the goals.  Patti almost scored too when she had the ball right in front of the net, but couldn't quite get her foot on it in time.

Another come-from-behind effort that speaks well for our ability to stick with it in adversity and not give up.  Final score: 2-2.
7 October v. Team Zia: 

Strategic rainout.  Given we would have been short a goalkeeper and three of our regularly-appearing women, it was decided to schedule rain for the whole day.  Well done.  Game rescheduled on 25 November.
13 October v. Orange Crush: 

First cool weather of the season -- typical cloudy, windy, autumn evening.  Rather meager turnout number-wise for the men (only one weak sub -- me), but a full women's complement, albeit with no subs.  The Orange Slush folks were up in numbers (18),  down in age (averaging about 22 years, I'd guess), and, consequently, quite fast.  I think they just wore us out...and they passed quite well too.  Actually, the defense had a pretty good night considering the number of runs they had at our goal.  They got two goals on breakaways -- one about 12 minutes into the first half, and another at the 2-minute mark in the second half.  Those guys were fast.  Their only other score came at the end of the first half when a totally bizarre, pseudo-Brownian*, pinball-like episode ended with their ball in our net.  The horror....

The Slush-people were particularly good at the quick counterattack, taking advantage of our folks being worn down.  Vincent and Fran did a great job frustrating most of their attacks down the middle, while Jonathan and Marina more than held their own on the wings.  Joe had a good night in goal, hoovering up quite a few balls directed his way.  Really solid defense.  Steve, Maria, Kristen, Greg, and Tom did what they could at midfield, but with Crush running in fresh people every 7 minutes or so most everyone got knackered.  Still, there were several good tries at the goal by Alex, Kristen, Greg, and Steve.  Patti almost got her foot on a couple close to the goal as well.  Maria and Kristen really put in the miles and ran hard the whole game.  Greg ran really fast 'til he got pooed-out following months of inactivity in the salt mines of Texas City, then settled into a more reasonable pace.. Alex, in what must have been a frustrating night at striker, put in a good, often single-handed effort against their determined (and quick) male sweeper and had several shots that went just wide left.  He also came back into the defense to help out periodically.

Not a badly played game...the score notwithstanding. The bye week coming up and a bonding exercise at the Ragin' Cajun planned for the off week should help us recover.  Welcome to Greg for his first game, and welcome back to Jonathan.  Final score: 0-3.
*Brownian motion: A particle suspended in liquid is constantly and randomly bombarded from all sides by molecules of the liquid. If the particle is very small, the hits it takes from one side will be stronger than the bumps from other side, causing it to jump. These small random jumps are what make up Brownian motion. The first mathematical theory of Brownian motion was developed by Einstein in 1905. He received the Nobel prize for this work. (Revised from: http://xanadu.math.utah.edu/java/brownianmotion/1/; see the cool graphic there.)
11 November v. Marathon Madness:

First game in a month (three rainouts and a bye).  Great weather for people (and mosquitoes) with temps in the low 60s.  Unfortunately, it was a late game and the turnout was initially a little on the light side.  We ended up with three guy subs, but were short two women.  Nine on eleven worked okay for us for a while, but they eventually wore us down a bit by subbing their entire midfield side out every ten minutes.  That said, we could reasonably have won this game.  We had plenty of chances and kept their keeper pretty busy.  Play was pretty even throughout the whole match.

The mad-people got on the board first with a goal from a breakaway about 20 minutes into the first half.  It looked like they relaxed a bit after that, allowing Greg to blast one in off a highlight-reel-quality spin move from the top of the goal box about ten minutes later.  This reinvigorated the crazy folks, but our tough defense kept them frustrated until they managed to squeak one in about midway through the second half.  Still, we managed to attack their net through the rest of the game while parrying their quick counterattacks. 

Vincent had one of his best games ever with a masterful job on the back line, either stripping their forwards (of the ball), or slowing them down enough to let the rest of the defense recover.  Bill, Matt and Steve all did a great job back there in the middle of the defense as well.  Joyce and Patti both worked well shutting down their wing forwards and made good transition plays up into the midfield.  Kristen, Greg, Tony, Steve, and Matt did yeoman-person work in the midfield (Kristen, without a sub), both overlapping and shooting, and filling in on defense when necessary.  Alex and Steve constituted the all-Walmsley front line.  Both had shots on goal that could have gone in, and kept Marathon's people committed to defense, rather than allowing them to push everyone up with the numbers mismatch.  Joe had another good night as designated martyr-in-goal, making some good saves in the process.  Not much could have been done to save the two that went in.  We're still looking for a keeper to replace Geoff, but no joy so far.  Anyone?  Anyone?

This was a good friendly game.  Welcome back to Matt.  Final score: 1-2.
18 November v. Olympia V:

Nice night weather-wise, and a pretty friendly game with a great referee.  The mosquitoes seemed to be having fun again too.  No joy for us in Mudville however.  Turnout was decent -- three guy subs and a full complement of women, including one sub for the first half.  Oly had a full squad, plus about a dozen, it seemed...and they all looked about 20 years old.

We seemed to get off to a rather uncoordinated start by being unable to put more than a pass or two together.  Several well-intentioned back-passes got away from folks, and only an alert defense and Oly's inability to finish prevented a few early goals.  The defense had a very busy night, but Frances and Vincent both played smart and managed to keep their forwards just enough off balance to prevent them from striking that killer shot.  Joe, in another solid night in goal, vacuumed up the balls that weren't off the mark.  Marina just keeps getting better, and in the process was giving one of their big male strikers problems on the right side of the defensive line.  We had several good runs at their goal, but several of our quick counters down the wings were so quick that we were down in numbers at the business end of the field.  Several good crosses from Greg, Charlie, Tony and Kristen went untouched across the goal mouth.  Our best chance at a score came from Anthony, who put one just past the left post early in the second half.  Everything was going well until they managed to chip one in with about six  minutes left on the clock. Very frustrating to have held them off that long only to have them score so late in the game, but everyone was pretty tired at that point.

Charlie and Kristen (once again without a sub) get the prize for running the most.  Both were making overlapping runs in the front and falling back on defense -- pretty awesome.  Speaking from personal experience, the defense got some running in too.  Steve had a good game both at striker and wing defender.  Joyce ran well at midfield and forward.  Bill -- always a scoring threat -- spent most of his time lurking around the midfield and came up with some key through passes to start our runs up the wings. Maria was often wide open on the outside at  midfield, and served as a go-to person to make transition passes to the front. Greg, clearly the swiftest person on the field had the oil-heads struggling to keep up, making several good steals at midfield and on the front line that led to shots on goal.  Patti also had a couple chances up front, and a questionable offsides call prevented what would have been a good shot at the net.

All-in-all not a bad night considering that the score could have been much worse.  Welcome back to Charlie.  Final score 0-1.