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⚽️ GAME 4 REPORT
Apr. 16, 2018
On Saturday, April 14th, both of Ocala's undefeated U15 soccer squads matched up at the midseason point to find they would both remain undefeated, as they remained scoreless for a 0-0 draw. The Ocala Hurricanes held a steady edge over Coach Kevin Gorman's blue squad throughout the match with about 75% possession time, holding the ball deep for plenty of chaotic scrambles as the blue squad bunkered back and made a variety of heroic dives and slides to keep the ball out of their net. The Hurricanes kept storming their gates, out-shooting the blue squad 7-1, out-chancing them 15-3, and doubling up the corner kicks, 4-2, but none of those numbers mattered on the scoresheet, as the blue squad's fans celebrated and the Hurricanes settled for the hard fought draw.
"I didn't have to do much" Hurricanes goalkeeper Aiden Chittum said afterward. "Our defense made it really easy for me." Indeed, Chittum had to work a lot harder to preserve a 2-0 win over the Burgundy squad the Saturday before, with 7 saves required instead of only one.
"Four consecutive shutouts is not bad for any squad," said Coach Miley of "Aiden's Wall".
"Any coach knows you build a soccer squad from the back forward," Miley noted. "Our back defenders are minimizing mistakes, but we were applying immediate defensive pressure all over the pitch pretty much anytime they touched it. We have the only solid wall in the league. Nobody has touched our net halfway through this season. That's something we can take forward from this match."
Both sides were resilient and fought very hard. The Hurricanes obviously had the younger side, with only one player who is fifteen, and everybody else in middle school. Nevertheless, their edge was in their passing.
"You don't need age or size for good passing," said Miley. "You just need good communication with a work ethic, and we have that. Our kids worked as hard as they do in practice to control this match with passing. Usually that results in a win, but there are never any guarantees in soccer. Each match has a storyline, no matter the score. We were stringing together seven and eight consecutive passes five or more times in each half, and I never saw more than three consecutive passes for our opponent. That's why most of the match was on their end, and that is something else to take forward. It's always easier to possess than chase, and we had them gassed."
Indeed, both sides left everything on the field as morning breezes gave way to the high noon heat hitting the 80s in Florida's horse country.
"Our kids were wanting more time for this match to tumble our way," said Miley, "and I know they are mentally replaying some of the missed chances. They'll be looking forward to seeing this blue squad again for the final match."
Bobby Herndon, the league director, stepped in for Coach Gorman's absence, and did an excellent job marshalling his strongest players back to hang onto the 0-0 draw. Chittum needed only one save for an actual shot on frame, and came out a couple of times to disrupt a couple of other chances. Coach Bobby leaned on a few fast breaks to shake things up, but they were usually stopped before they could get close. "Aiden isn't kidding about the easy day," said Coach Miley. "Our diamond defense did another sound job sending the battles elsewhere."
The Hurricanes finished the match with a few more deep rushes into the blue squad's penalty area, but squandered their shots wide or over the bar from within spitting distance of open net. "We ran strong till the end," said Miley, "but just didn't finish. I told our kids there's a story to every match. This match was ours to take, but we didn't take it. We did a lot of things we are looking for, but missed the finishing touches. It's a useful experience to build on, because it will make us work harder to properly finish our opportunities -- one of life's lessons."
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