Friday, August 3, 2012

Elkhorn Tourney Coming Up! Lessons Learned from New Zealand

Today I watched the US Women's National Team play against New Zealand in the quarterfinals of the Olympic Soccer Tournament.  New Zealand's record was poor compared to the US.  NZ won just one game in their group, the US won 3.  The US had beaten NZ the last 8 times the two teams had met.  On paper, it looked like a blow out, USA style.

However, New Zealand attacked with power and creativity and defended well. NZ gave up a goal in the first half but the finishing of US team was out of sync, missing a number of chances that would have put the game away. The Zealanders were creating very good chances.  The US the lead was not a comfortable one. The game turned into a real nail-biter for the fans.

It wasn't until Syndey Leroux pounded the ball between the keeper's legs in the 87th minute that USA fans could breathe a sigh of relief. It just goes to show that soccer players can't take anything for granted and have to bring their best every time they step onto the field.  On paper, New Zealand looked easy.  It reality, the US should feel fortunate to come away with a victory.  Any tournament can have games like that.

One of the reasons we are participating in the Elkhorn Soccer Festival is to be able to play local teams and let them know that we mean business. Our goal is to establish ourselves as a dominant force in our age group. We have not played a local team in a real competition since October of 2011.  We need to play everyone and play our very best.  I want them to fear us.

Every game presents its own unique challenge.  I never want my players to think that a team or a tournament is going to be "easy."  If we go into a game or tourney thinking that, it is very difficult to play our best.  Players usually under perform if they think things will be easy.

We can beat anyone if we have fun, strive to play our best, score goals and prevent the other team from scoring.  On the other hand, we can get beat by anyone if we are too uptight, don't play well, don't score and they do.  Our players should pretend every game is a championship game and every opponent is a great challenge.  Having that mentality, we will be successful!

Also seen in the USA-NZ game: after the US scored their first goal, a number of players attempted to do cartwheels.  Afterward they said that they wanted to honor the Olympic gymnasts.  From my point of view, I love the fact that women players at that level are having fun and doing silly harmless celebrations after goals.

Here is the schedule for the Elkhorn Tourney.  We will wear all black the first day and all white the second day.  However, everyone needs to bring every piece of their uniform every time we play.  I will have them change if we conflict.

Saturday August 11
12GR13 8:00 AM THZ 5 OFC 00/01 Elite 1 Solar vs ELK Fury
12GR12 2:15 PM EHS 3 OFC 00/01 Elite 2 s vOFC 00/01 Elite 1 Solar
Sunday August 12
12GR16 8:00 AM THZ 7 OFC 00/01 Elite 1 Solar vs ELK Rush
12GRC  6:00 PM THZ 7  Championship

I am looking forward to the tournament!