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GAME 5 REPORT: Canes Stay Undefeated, Unscored Upon
Apr. 22, 2018
On a breezy Saturday in Florida's horse country, the Ocala Hurricanes silenced a fifth straight opponent, 3-0, continuing their perfect string of shutouts as the youngest squad in their U14 league.
"It's amazing to me how we could start this U15 season with 9 kids not even in their teens yet, and then simply silence all of our opponents with five shutouts in our first five outings. I've never heard of anything like it in youth soccer," said their coach, Fred Miley. "These defenders can be very proud of each other and how they have gelled. They have learned through many reps in practice how to operate a high level diamond formation under a variety of overloads. And now this league of older players is at a loss trying to crack their code. They are a team within a team that refuses to crack. In fifteen seasons as a player and sixteen seasons as a coach, I have never seen five consecutive shutouts for a squad. The only strikers who seem to be able to occasionally beat this diamond are on our team, and that happens only in practice with severe overloads. We run all ten of our other players at our diamond over and over in practice, and only the best plays will occasionally find the net. We call them "Aiden's Wall", and Aiden shows up for business as the last man. It is amazing to watch five players hold off ten players as well as they do. What they do in practice is way more amazing than what they do in matches."
With their coach raving and their families buzzing, Ocala's top U15 squad faced their practice field neighbor, the red squad under Peruvian Coach Cesar Tambini, who tended goal at a national level for Peru. "We were very excited to take on Coach Cesar's team," said Miley, "because we always see each other's hard workouts and keep wondering who is better. He has a very big heart for all of our league's kids, and donated some of his time to help our goalkeeper Aiden earlier in the season, when I asked for him to share his goalkeeping expertise. He did so not only willingly, but with enthusiasm. I respect how Cesar coaches, and their squad actually has a lot in common with our work ethic and passing priority, but I think our diamond made the difference again for us today."
The Canes picked up an early goal from Justin Arroyo to take a slight edge into halftime, and proceeded to lock down the match against a stiffening breeze with a goal from seventh grader Anthony Minami from distance, and an inswinger off a late corner kick from Arroyo. The Hurricanes out-shot the red squad, 18-7, and tallied 12 corner kicks while allowing none. "We still need to capitalize better on our opportunities," Coach Miley acknowledged, "but we did a lot of things we wanted to do today, especially holding it in their back third of the pitch. Our strikers and midfielders worked hard to continue the chaos on their end, and our defenders just said no again." Coach Cesar's strikers did make a couple of threatening deep runs late in the match, but Aiden was equal to the task with solid saves.
The Hurricanes are at the top of the league with 14 goals in five outings, but the five straight shutouts is becoming a phenomenon that the kids in the diamond want to extend. "Railey completely rocked a winger who was trying to get by her, when she took him with a fierce and legal tackle in the first half, and the rest of the diamond stepped up with play after play, coming off Railey's fearlessness, to keep that hard hustling team down to just a few real chances. Our defense is creating a name for themselves back there. They don't make many mistakes, and that is why they are back there. That is the only shutout Coach Cesar's squad has suffered. Our diamond has very quietly silenced all five of our opponents. Nobody has found our net. Aiden's Wall is real."
The 4-0-1 Hurricanes take their league leading momentum into next Saturday's rematch versus the Gray squad, in the 9:30 early slot on Field 7 again. "This is our only early match," said Coach Miley. "We want our players to bed early the night before and ready with an early breakfast."
Bring your family and friends to cheer on YOUR Ocala Hurricanes.
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