9 June vs. Olympia V

Your faithful reporter was out of town and nobody seems to want to submit a narrative.  Here's what I have: Kristen scored on another penalty kick and had a great showing in goal.  Raymi added another goal.  Dante got ejected, and one of the Olys assaulted the ref and got ejected his own self.  There was a bit of internal strife.  Welcome to Pam, Diane, Angela, Les and Jennifer in their first game with the team.  Final score: 3-3
23 June vs. JFC Juggernauts

It was a hot and sultry night.  Pretty scary start -- played the first 10 minutes one man down.  Ended up with a couple extra guys and a spare woman player.  Kristen was playing hurt, and Minsue was in for her farewell game en route to her residency in Denver.  Mark was back in goal from his Colorado trip.

We played pretty well, with a solid defense that kept the Jugheads out of scoring range most of the night, and good mid and forward play anchored by Raymi and Kristen.  I'd have to say that we controlled the ball a majority of the time and had many excellent scoring opportunities -- way more than the other folks.  But we just couldn't finish.  There were a couple occasions where our forwards were in scoring position, practically unopposed, only to have something bizarre happen to keep the ball out of the net.  The Jug's keeper did have an excellent night, saving several that would ordinarily would have gone in, particularly several good shots by Bill following creative passes from Raymi.  We finally got on the board when Raymi took a misdirected Juggernaut goal kick near the top of the penalty box and drilled it right back down the middle with about 10 minutes left on the clock.

As usual, Vincent led the scrappy defense, limiting them to only a couple legitimate shots on goal.  If we had problems finishing, they did too, only we had many more chances.  Mark had one of his signature good nights in goal, aggressively policing up balls that dribbled through and not really getting dirty in our first shutout of the season.  Pam, Joyce, Patti, Diane, Dennis and Tom also put in time in the defense to good effect.  Raymi gets the marathon award for most running.  Once again, he led the midfield and proved to be the playmaker by passing effectively on the attack, and making some great runs on goal himself.  Minsue, Les, Diane, Joyce and Bill were also in there controlling the ball in the midfield most of the game.  Kristen, Bill, Joaquin, and Joyce played up front at one time or another.  Kristen was slowed by a nagging knee injury, and then further hampered by a whack that took out her other knee.  Even still, she had a great night, particularly in the first half and had several good shots that were saved by Jug's keeper.

All-in-all a good-natured game that was a little frustrating due to trouble scoring while controlling the ball much of the time.  The outcome was good, however.  Best wishes to Minsue.  Final score: 1-0
30 June vs. Buffalo Wild Wings

Still  hot and sultry.  Better turnout this time for the men with four subs, but no extra female-people.  Kristen got word that she'll probably need surgery to repair a torn meniscus in her knee, so she's out for a few weeks.

Things got off to a slow start with the Buffs controlling the ball pretty well for the first 10 minutes or so.  Then, fortunately(?), Raymi got kinda semi-taken down in their box on our first real run at their goal about 20 minutes into the match.  That resulted in Joyce's nice little PK that slipped right by their keeper for 2 points.  Being up by two seemed to take some of the pressure off, and we began playing a more relaxed game typified by decent passing which resulted in some quality scoring opportunities.  As always, Raymi served as the most frequent playmaker, attacking the goal and serving up precision passes from his midfield spot.  He was also a formidable presence when he dropped back to help with the defense.  Joyce and Bill both had a good night up front.  Bill had a couple close-in chances that just missed before being ejected for dissent(?) in the first half.  The ref had a questionable night to say the least, and did not serve well as our seventh man by wearing his yellow uniform during most of the premier tiempo.  (He seemed a bit put out that we thought the color issue would be a problem.)  The middle part of the game was typified by lots of back and forth action with the edge going to Penguins in terms of number and quality of the scoring opportunities.  The Wild Things had trouble getting the ball into a position where it could be finished, either through good defensive play by our back line, or by making their through passes a bit too hot and, consequently, easy pickings for Mark in goal.  About 15 minutes from the end, a Peruvian storm finally broke through the Things defense with Dante scoring on a partially deflected shot set up by a nice pass from Raymi to make the margin 3-0.  The Buffalo Herd cut the lead to one with less than 10 minutes left following a scrabble in the goal mouth that resulted in the ball on one of their female strikers' foot inside the six.  That prompted a desperate offensive push by the Buffs that fell short when the anemic final whistle finally sounded.

Everyone had a good game, but Mark had a most excellent night in goal with several great stops.  One save in the first half required him to dive on someone's foot, sacrificing a spleen for the team in the first half.  Fortunately, he was able to shake it off and finish out the game in fine style. He probably saved another goal by making a highlight reel-quality fingertip stop on a cross across the top of the goal box.  Vincent had another good night directing the defense and never giving up in his patented persistent harassment of the attacking team's players.  Patti, Pam, Les, Matt and Dennis all played well on the back line as well.  Pam did particularly well against the male forward on her side of the field and effectively shut him down all night.  The midfield also seemed to be controlling the ball well, and in addition to Raymi -- Les, Diane, Jennifer, Jason, Dante, and Matt all made great contributions.  Les had several good scoring opportunities, particularly off a couple headers of passes from Raymi in the second half.  Jennifer, in what was probably her second game ever, was making excellent, intelligent passes like a veteran.  In addition to Joyce and Bill, Jason and Matt also played on the front line and had some decent shots on goal.  Joyce was open up front frequently enough that she was drawing one of their men out of the middle to mark her.  That weakness in their defense probably contributed to Dante's goal.

Great game with a slightly bizarre overprint due to the weird ref.  Final score 3-2.
14 July vs. JFC Thunder

Pretty cool night for mid-July.  Probably gearing up for Hurricane Claudette's arrival on Tuesday.  Great turnout with a full complement of both men and women and subs for both.  

We got off to a pretty decent start and actually did a good job of controlling the ball much of the game.  We did well playing short against this team last season until they finally wore us out late in the second half when we were unable to stay with their playmaker, the guy in the blue shorts.  This time he was still able to get some traction from time to time, but Raymi, Les, Dante, Joe, Diane, Jen and the other midfielders did a good job of keeping  him under control.  We really had the upper hand with respect to the number and quality of opportunities on goal.  Thunder's keeper was having a busy night and did well to keep us out of their goal through the first half.  Most of the half was spent on the attack with shots by Tony, Steve, and Dante just missing on several occasions.  Raymi was awesome once again as our dominant playmaker, doing a tremendous amount of work both on defense and directing the attack.  Joe had his usual good touch and left foot on the ball.  Raoul, Vincent and Matt were doing a fine job shutting down the donnerheads' attacks down the middle of the field while Joyce, Pam, Marina, and Patti did an excellent job controlling the wings on defense, particularly when they started sending an extra man forward.  Kristen was doing a fine job running subs in as folks started slowing down in the first half.

At halftime, Kristen could stand it no more.  She suited up over the break, went in and scored five minutes later, bad knee and all.  It was quite nice.  She flicked a header over to Dante from the outer left corner of the penalty box.  Dante teed it up and blasted a shot that went off the right post so hard that it came all the way back to Diane abeam the other post.  She pushed it back to Kristen about 12 out in front of the goal.  All (and I mean all) the defenders had been drawn over to the right side of the box by her header to Dante and his shot, so when she got the ball back she had time for a touch towards the goal before square-tapping it in for the game winner.

Following our goal, Thunder really tried to turn things up a notch, but again, good anticipation and marking by the defense with help from the midfielders and Steve proved to be too much.  Actually the defense made a few good runs at the goal with Vincent, Matt and Raoul overlapping and taking on an attacking role (fortunately, not all at the same time).  Thunder had a pretty effective counterattack throughout the game and finally managed to squeeze an ugly one in with about 15 minutes left. Dennis had probably his best night ever in goal, playing smart, anticipating, and saving a couple that could easily have gone in.  The women: Pam, Diane, Joyce, Marina, Jen, Kristen, and Patti really came through late in the game.  We could use some work on our passing game, but it was a great effort nonetheless.  Welcome back to Raoul and Joe.  Final score: 2-1.
21 July vs. Orange Crush

Great field -- I'm told that stuff is called grass.  Good turnout for the guys, but short one woman-person.  That wasn't super critical this time because Crush was short two women until the end of the game.  Unfortunately, they didn't need 'em.  This was one game where we really did have a bunch of chances, but even though our spirit was pure, none of the damn shots would go in the goal.  Most were due to being just off target, or stopped by their keeper.  Orange Mush had a wicked counterattack that frequently gave them fast numbers against our defense.  They managed to score about 15 minutes in on a quick strike that was a bit demoralizing.  Dante, Steve, Bill, Raymi, Raoul, Les, and Jason all had chances on goal without luck.  We managed to get into the half down 1-0, and continued to make tries throughout the second half.  Again, Crush kept up with the quick counters and, although we managed to stop most of them, they managed to add two more goals. 

It wasn't all bad -- we did have times when we were passing pretty well on this large (130 x 75 yd) field.  Dante had a great shot go off the post in the first half.  Raymi and Raoul teamed up late in the game to have several excellent chances that miraculously didn't go in.  Right at the end, Raymi chipped one to Joyce at the far post that, if it had gone in would have made the score 3-2 and changed the tone of the game.  Unfortunately, that one just missed as well.  Immediately afterward, Diane (who had moved up to the front from midfield) also had a great shot that was just stopped.  Joyce had a watershed game.  In addition to playing the entire game, she was covering most of the field, coming back to help on defense and going up to support the offense.  Jen had some good touches and seems to be adept at finding open spaces in the midfield.  Patti had a few good passes as well.  The defense, anchored by Vincent, Raoul and Dennis had their work cut out for them by three very fast attackers.  Working with Mark in goal, they managed to shut down most, but, unfortunately, not all of the attacks.  This was not our best game, but it wasn't as bad as the score might indicate.  Final score 0-3.
28 July vs. Olympia V

Your (usually) faithful reporter was not present for this one.  I'm told it was not one of our better games.  Raymi scored.  Unfortunately, they did too.  Several times.  Final Score 3-1.
18 August vs. Team Zia

Seems like a couple weeks off improved everyone's outlook on life, if not their attendance.  We started the game even with the Zeoids at nine-on-nine.  Fortunately, we initially had the advantage of fielding more men than they did.  Unfortunately, we stayed at nine (down two women) while they gradually added people and ended up with a full team at the 30-minute mark.  Interestingly, our control of the game through the first half correlated pretty well to the difference in player numbers.  For once (it seems) we were able to take advantage of having an advantage by getting a couple goals in the first 30 minutes, but the second half of the half was increasingly spent in defensive mode.  We were able to make something of a comeback in the second half by decreasing the number of people up in the attack and trying to keep a normal complement back on defense, thus reducing our vulnerability to Zia's counterattack.

Vincent got the scoring started about 12 minutes in by coming forward unmarked from his sweeper position and putting a nice shot past the keeper and into the left corner of the net for what turned out to be the winner.  Raymi followed 10 minutes later with an overlap from midfield finished with a clean shot that went through the same hole in the back of the net as Vincent's goal.  We managed to survive several increasingly dangerous counterattacks as the half ended, either through heads-up goalkeeping by Mark, our quick, catch-up defense, or simple bad luck and mistakes on the part of Zia's offenders.  Fortunately, the second half was typified by more back and forth, with our very short-staffed offensive line managing to keep the ball in the opposition's half for surprisingly long periods of time.  Not that Zia didn't have their chances -- two shots went off the ironwork, and one of those dribbled across the length of the goal before returning to a downed Mark.

Hats off once again to the womenfolk: Diane, Joyce and Pam.  Playing two short with no subs in extreme heat, with no breeze, and in the dark was extraordinary.  And they played well the whole game on top of it all.  We should have a sub or two at the next game if all goes according to plan.  Kristen claims she'll be back for the start of the fall season as well.  It was all she could do to stay off the field as it was.  A tip of the hat also goes to Mark, who notched his second shutout of the season.

Good effort against a good, good natured team.  Final score 2-0.
25 August vs. JFC Prova

Good turnout, with plenty of subs for both men and women.  The game got off to a pretty good start with decent passing and some good runs on goal; however, our vulnerability to the quick counterattack made for some exciting moments in the defense.  They had a couple really skilled folks on the attack who gave us problems during the first half.  Unfortunately, one of them was able to capture a goal kick near the top of the box and got a quick goal about 10 minutes in.  That was followed by another shortly afterward on a counter that caught our midfield way up the field.  Momentum gradually shifted back our way after that and we were making more coherent passes and spending more time in their end of the field.  Even though it was getting darker by the minute in this late summer game on an unlighted field, the referee gave the other team a rest break with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.  This came after we spent several minutes looking for a ball that Prova had booted across the road, into the woods.  Very bizarre.  We continued to improve our time of possession in the second half, and looked like we were eventually going to score, but, unfortunately, the game was called 20 minutes early due to lightning.  No quarrel there, but frustrating nevertheless.

Welcome back to Debbie (and Raoul), and farewell to Mark, who, with Frances, will be birthing babies shortly (look for them back after that).  Final score: 0-2.