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Ocala Hurricanes Move Into First Place
Sep. 23, 2018
CANES 5 GRAY 1
⚽️ North Central Florida's Big Sun Youth Soccer League's U15 Division kicked off its second Saturday of the Fall 2018 season with 25 goals scored in three matches. The Ocala Hurricanes had to work very hard for their five. With the club's 19th win in their third season, the Hurricanes maintained their undefeated trail. They did this hosting a well contested 5-1 win in a first match with Coach Demeola's Gray squad, to move into first place. The Hurricanes have worked hard to rebuild their chemistry around only four returning players, and their strong beginning hasn't missed a stride. The squad continues its reputation as a hard working passing team with a commitment to excellence. "This is a good league for friendly competition," said Hurricanes Head Coach Fred Miley after the match. "We have some great families backing these kids on all sides. They hear a lot of cheers, and you can hear coaches cheering for players on both sides as the relationships continue with the families from other seasons. And everyone is putting in the work to improve each week. We aim to be our own best competition. Soccer leads young athletes into a level work ethic through their ups and downs, and a steady mentality as a team. We keep the soccer in soccer as we expect the best of ourselves learning the sport. Otherwise, we're just kicking a ball. Everybody truly wants to play well, and our two newcomers to the sport are looking comfortable in competitive practices with more experienced players. That's what we're after. We want our kids feeling confident about what they can do together as a team. They all are ready for the matches in a positive learning environment. Teams that focus on building character together often achieve winning results. The scoreboard is not the only measure of winning results. We had an excellent week of practice before today's match. We like our progress."
Hurricanes speaking captain and stopper back Jack Gorman reported the Gray squad won the toss and the Hurricanes would take the opening kickoff north. The first eight minutes went bouncing mostly around the midfield with skirmishes as the two squads grappled for whose brand of ball would set the pace. The Hurricanes eventually reined in the kick and run style of their opponents and started working their shorter passing to take the balance of possession time for most of the attacks. The windows for shots started opening for the hard working Navy Blue Canes, and the crowd could hear mostly Hurricanes doing the talking as they threaded their setups together. In the tenth minute, midfielder Tre Ward snatched a loose ball and knocked in the first tally from just outside the box. A few short minutes later, Tre stole a ball from a Gray midfielder and buried another goal from distance. The Hurricanes enjoyed their first water break in the 18th minute with a 2-0 lead, but the Gray squad set up a throw down the right touch line that found #10 sneaking past two defenders for a quick goal on their only shot of the entire match. "I think that was a first for me as a coach, seeing one goal on only one shot for a whole match," said Coach Miley, "but it was a very well played goal that was well deserved by both the thrower and #10."
The Canes bounced back before halftime with a hard shot from the left flank by Mia Liebegott, which bounced off the keeper's knee for Tessa Ward to finish. "All of our kids know to follow our shots," said Miley. "All of our drills are competitive, encouraging soccer decisions under pressure. We are a team geared for battle. Even the newcomers are onto this after just a few weeks. Tess was just repeating a competitive drill from practice. She is a very fast learner and one of the most aggressive strikers in our league. She was just being herself today, and that landed her two goals."
The second half belonged to the Hurricanes, as Tessa (Tess for short) knocked in another one off her brother Tre's assist. The Canes finished with possibly the best highlight reel, as Lainey Liles headed in a high assist from striker Jackson Walker relaying Tre's corner kick across the goal mouth to the far post. Liles was happy to finish that play just seconds before the final whistle. "That's just one of those plays the Liles family will always remember," said Miley, "because their girl played it perfectly, and it could never be done again exactly like that. A once in a lifetime play. And I'll always remember her daddy's smile after that play. Because he was no longer my assistant coach at that moment. He was all daddy."
The Canes out-shot the Gray squad, 14-1, for the 5-1 result. "The match was closer than the score," said Miley. "The Gray squad played with a lot of heart, and Quadarius Mitchell anchored their defense with a lot of well timed tackles. They played us tough and with great sportsmanship. We needed some stellar goals to stay ahead. Their goalkeeper was smart about cutting down angles and saved nine of our shots -- that's not easy. He also played well on their right wing when he switched out to the field."
"These matches are becoming a real family affair," said Miley. "I met Mia's grandfather after the match, and we all noticed how packed the opposite touch line was with a lot of people cheering for the kids with both sides. We love to see that kind of support for both teams. We have three sets of siblings on the squad. We like it when they get to connect in the matches. It means a lot to the families, so we try to put them in positions where they can connect. We think soccer is about the families, not just the players. That's why we run our gratitude lap at the end of every match to thank them. The kids on both sides can feel the support."
Following are some of the latest stats and scores as the Hurricanes jump out to an early sole possession of first place.
MATCH #2 STATISTICS, 9/22/2018
FOULS CK SAVES SOG GOALS
CANES 1 7 0 14 5
GRAY 0 2 9 1 1
1st half: Tre Ward (unassisted)
Tre Ward (unassisted, from distance)
#10 Gray (from throw, right flank)
~ water break ~
Tessa Ward (Tre Ward, assist)
2nd half: Tessa Ward (Mia Liebegott, assist)
~ water break ~
Lainey Liles (header, from Jackson
Walker's assist, off Tre's corner kick)
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