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Oct. 13, 2017
"Our diamond defense has the league baffled," says Coach Miley. "The diamond formation carries a higher level set of dynamics and responsibilities than coaches generally use at the U14 level. I knew we had the right group to handle it. Because we play on a smaller than regulation size pitch, most of our league's matches are a scoring fest against each side's flat three defenders. That system can't lock anyone out. Our diamond is the answer."
The Canes started the season with that higher level diamond and never looked back. Understanding the diamond formation is easier than working it, but that's a start. At the top of the diamond, spearheading the resistance stands the stopper back. As the first central defender, that is your wild warrior bringing a savage disruption to the onset of any central attack. The stopper may also slide left or right to bring early pressure to a flank incursion. Kaleigh Beers (#8) fills this spot for the Hurricanes. You could call her the first cold hello from the Canes defense, or even a first heavy gale with warnings of more behind her. The left back generally handles an opponent's best right-footed right wing striker. That striker often is the fastest "skill player" with the hardest strikes, simply because more players are right-footed than left-footed, creating a bigger pool of candidates for coaches to survey for their "hammer". Two-footed players are rare at the U14 level. Players often need at least five seasons to become two-footed, and the Canes have only three players with that experience. Emma Wood fills this left back position. Her job is to own her touchline and stop or chase the opponent's strongest striker into her sweeper's ready trap. The right back shuts down the opponent's best lefty. Because there are fewer lefties to draw from, right back is a great position for a player learning the ropes. First year standout Quadarius Mitchell has won this spot with an inspiring learning curve and work ethic. The man called "Q" also already has four assists, serving notice that he has more than defense on his mind. The Canes diamond is anchored in the back by possibly the league's most stifling defender, Josh Sieradzky, helping Goalkeeper Aiden Chittum lead the league's toughest defense.
Coach Miley says, "Some players are known for composure, some for vision, some for ball control, some for timing, some for spatial awareness, and some for responsibility; Josh has it all. I knew he was my sweeper after the first practice." The sweeper does what the position says: he sweeps up whatever gets through, and therefore must possess good soccer knowledge and instincts in a complete package. "Josh fills a position that no other Big Sun U14 squad has. He is our sweeper. He turns our diamond into a meat grinder."
In their first year, you may see the Hurricanes trying a few different players in the diamond to pick up some experience. You'll see Ryan Dennis and Savannah Polk alternating in at stopper, striker Anthony Minami filling in at sweeper, striker Nate Ruiz stepping in at right back, and midfielder Caitlin Connolly taking an occasional assignment at left back. The dynamics of the center backs also can completely swap spots when the stopper is beaten and recycles behind the sweeper stepping up. One way or another, everyone has everyone's back in a well tested diamond. It's a team within a team, and these players get to know one another very fast. They form a bond of duty to keep intruders out, give their goalkeeper the easiest possible final stops, and rip the ball away for counter attacks. By wearing down opposing stars with tenacious, recycling defenders, the swirling Canes already are finding mystifying success with their "diamond dynamics".
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