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A Look at Week 8
Nov. 1, 2017
Ten matches were slated for the Big Sun Youth Soccer Leagues, with Week 1 thrown forward to Week 10, due to Hurricane Irma's direct path through Ocala's sprawling horse country laden with majestic oaks and falling limbs everywhere. So, the final three matches now comprise a November homestretch for all age levels of the fall soccer season. The U14 level has bowed to an early championship run by the upstart Ocala Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have no 9th graders, only three 8th graders, and mostly 6th and 7th graders as the youngest team in the league. New to the league as a club under a former college player and high school coach who had been away from soccer for six years, the young Hurricanes gelled rapidly into a Cat 5 force that needed only seven matches to clinch the U14 championship. Now the Canes look to defend their perfect season with the same methodical work ethic and ready confidence that the league has come to expect, as they face the #3 Power Rangers on November 4th at 9:30 on Field 7.
The two squads first met in the season opener. The Canes in royal blue and white outlasted the Rangers in burgundy and white, 2-0, for the hard won victory. Mostly a tense 1-0 match, it was finally sealed by a late penalty kick from Josh Sieradzky, following a Rangers handball under heavy attack, for the insurance tally. Canes striker Martella Asbey had nailed what would become the winner early in the first half, which staged the defensive standoff. Goalkeeper Aiden Chittum recorded one of the league's two shutouts there in Week 1, and ironically, the Rangers recorded the other shutout, 1-0, two Saturdays ago in Week 6 over the Rip Tide. That was the first victory for the Rangers, who also went on to take another one-goal win over the Highlighters this past Saturday in Week 7. So, psychologically, the Rangers do have momentum with two straight wins to break their opening draught. They not only beat the Tide and Highlighters most recently, but also tied the Tide and the Ninjas earlier. The Rangers tend to produce low scoring results, with the worst attack (only 18 goals scored) and the next best defense behind the Hurricanes (19 goals allowed). The Rangers allow 2.6 goals a match while the stellar diamond defense of the Hurricanes allows only 1.3 goals a match. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are torching the league with the hottest striking line by far, producing 4.6 goals a match. Fans can bear in mind that the only losses for the Rangers came narrowly against the Hurricanes and Typhoons, two of the league's toughest squads. They are now ranked #3 behind the Hurricanes and Tide after their recent surge. No doubt, the Rangers are tough, and both squads carry momentum into this rematch.
"We take the Power Rangers seriously," Hurricanes Coach Fred Miley said. "We remember them with respect. Both of us coaches are defensive minded. They gave us a hard battle and we expect another battle. We are glad they found a winning track before this rematch. Still, these matches are always more about us than than our opponents. We are competing against who we were to find out who we can become. That is our team philosophy that we all believe as a guide for our mentality together. Every match is a fresh challenge, and we always treat the score as 0-0. We are a hard working winning team for some important reasons. This is no accident. This is quite intentional. We connect and take care of our business together. I believe in our kids and they believe in each other and in what I'm asking them to do. That's because they know and believe in why. The way players think together is what opens their opportunity to be a team. We are not just kicking a ball."
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