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I placed three cones at the top of the lanes then told the girls that “this is where we lost the game”. It would have been hard to get anyone to disagree seeing that this area comprised the area where teams score, but that was precisely, half-the-point.
We needed to step in front and own the ball on both ends. We need to defend. We need to score.
These girls had played their hearts out. The teams to whom we lost generally deserved to win, but we deserved some goals, and we needn’t give up the easy goals to these teams. As I ponder this training session, I understand all that we missed today, and that goalkeeping will have to happen in a follow-up session.
Tonight we focused on crashing the lanes, beating the opponent to the first touch, defensive clearing, and finishing. The gym was loud, and if I can get the pics and the video to load, I can post it here, but imagine two girls racing forward to the expanse of two tandem goals, as their teammates crash balls off of the bottom rung of wooden bleachers to rebound out in front of goal. The defender is looking to clear the ball to either sideline as she is running full-on toward her own goal, and the attacker is bursting headlong to glean a touch, just a touch to spin that ball on frame.
We had no keeper in there, though Sam jumped in at some point, I wouldn’t want to be in there. So any touch on frame was likely a goal. The girls enjoyed scoring and enjoyed defending against each other. They enjoyed, I think, the hitting of the ball. I think they heard that message from their coaches that they needed to be stronger, and they responded.
The Girls who were serving were sending these low and hard balls in front of goal. That would be the first bang. then the attacker would get her touch, sometimes a driven ball, and those shots would slam off the wooden bleachers so loudly that the gym was intense. The attacker would take as many as eight services at a time before the two would rotate roles. The “cauldron of competition” I had read about was coming alive. When the girls would rotate out to serve, they walked by me; I saw subtle smiles and heard that they had their heart rates up. We felt the part of perfect coaches tonight. Our girls left motivated to play better in a month.
As I left the gym, I joked with Sam-o that we could have an all night soccer fest slumber party for all of the Athens Soccer Academy teams. That was a joke, right? Sam said it would change things if anyone thought the gym were Haunted.