Match Reports

Madison Slashers

U-14 Boys In-Town Rec.

Fall 2002

One thing to remember. As a recreational (rec.) team we try to abide by the unwritten rule that if we do not try to win by more than 5 goals. If we start to dominate a team by 4 goals we will take a player off the field to make it 10 versus 11 and continue to take players off with every goal we score.
7th September, League Game, versus Madison Burn, Won 6-1
Last week, before our very first game today, goalkeeper Paddy Stimpson had broken his arm in a bicycle accident at home. It effectively knocked our squad down to 13 players since it is unlikely Paddy will able to play again this fall. As it turns out, this number is a luxury. The Burn could only field 10 players for today's game. In the match before ours, the Fire could only field 10 too, whilst the Crew could field 13.

So, we started our game against the Burn with 10 players and 3 subs. Patrick Shaffer started in goal. Within minutes, Andrew Archer scored to put the Slashers 1-0 up. It was 2-0 soon after when Jamie Greene scored and a rout looked on. Burn had, on the average, smaller and younger players. With the taller and older Andrew Archer (forward) and Christian MacDonald and Andrew Napier (centre midfielders) in a 4-4-1 formation the Slashers where dominating the centre of the field. The Burn found it tremendously difficult to break out of their half of the field. If not for some heroic first half goalkeeping by the Burn's Devin Briggs, it could have been very ugly. Devin kept the score down to 3-0 by half time. Andrew Napier had scored the third goal.

For the second half, against a weak team and kicking downhill, Coach Archer switched players around into different positions to try to lessen the Slashers' over-bearing dominance of the game. Ryan Leblanc went into goal for what would prove to be an easy second half for him. In the first half, Patrick had only touched the ball once. Having said that, the Burn started brightly and were rewarded with a goal in the early minutes of the second half. There was a defensive mix-up in the Slashers goal area and Ryan seemed to lose track of the ball for an easy Burn goal.

The setback did not phase the Slashers, they showed a lot of confidence in scoring more goals. Coach Archer knew they could score a lot of goals, but he was wary of sticking to an unwritten "5 goal rule" and tried to restrain the Slashers from running up the score. Sure enough, the Slashers went 4-1 and 5-1 up with ease with goals from Will Adua and Andrew Archer.

Albeit Coach Archer weakened the Slashers by substituting the better players, the Slashers went 6-1 up when Christian MacDonald scored. At about the same time a Burn player was taken off injured reducing them to 9 men with only 5 minutes or so to go. At this point, Coach Archer reduced the Slashers to 9 men also to even out the numbers, and then took another key player off to stop the Slashers dominating further. At 9 v 8 in favour of the Burn, the game petered out to its conclusion while the Slashers played keep-away and doing their best to not score again under Coach's orders.

Coach Archer's Thoughts

All in all, it was a good game for the Slashers, they played really well. There was a lot of passing and plenty of attacking action. The defence had little to do all game, so some of them pushed up to join the action, which resulted in the Slashers just increasing their pressure on the Burn. Without a doubt, the taller, older players with plenty of experience were the deciding factor, but the Slashers have a few other golden talents in their ranks too. Owing to my "5 goal rule" and not running up scores on weaker teams my main interest is keeping "clean sheets" (shut outs) which we can do using the old adage "the best form of defence is attack." The more we keep the ball away from our own goal the better and we were nearly perfect at that today. It concerned me a little bit that the Burn's only real attack resulted in a goal. I hope we can defend better than that. Defence, and who was going to play in it, was my main concern starting with our very first practice.
14th September, League Game, versus Madison Crew, Won 7-2
he photographers didn't show up for team photographs and the referees didn't show up for the game! Coach Archer offered to referee again, albeit having a bad ankle from a soccer injury sustained in early August.

The Slashers were missing Will Adua today and with Paddy Stimpson out injured for the remainder of the season this meant the Slashers were down to 12 players. Only one sub today. Fortunately, the Crew had two or three subs, so it was not necessary to play with less than 11 starters unlike last week. The major dilemma was who was going to start in goal? It was finally decided to volunteer Andrew Boughey, who had proclaimed in practices that he likes to play in goal sometimes! We would wait to see what the situation was at half-time before deciding on our second half substitute.

The Slashers started brightly and began to dominate the Crew almost immediately, but they struggled to turn their dominance and chances into goals. The Crew played with a packed defence that proved to be stubborn. It had taken about 10 minutes for the first goal to come, but with a little bit of controversy. A pass was made to Andrew Napier on the left of the top of the goal area and he beat a defender to burst into the goal area with only the goalkeeper to beat, which he did neatly. As the referee signalled the goal, the Crew coach complained bitterly that the goal was offside. The referee stuck with the decision saying he saw no offside. It was still upsetting nonetheless that the referee, the coach of the winning team, was basically accused of cheating by a fellow coach. From there on the atmosphere seemed tense.

The game went on and the Slashers continued to press for more goals and went 2-0 up after another few minutes. The Crew could only respond with the occasional break-away. After 20 minutes of the game, the Crew scored a goal on one of their break-aways. With the Slashers unable to underline their dominance with another goal, the first half would end at 2-1.

At half-time Coach Archer was unsure of the way the game would flow in the second half and was looking for somebody who could play solidly in goal. The responsibility finally fell to Patrick Schaffer.

In the second half, the Slashers were kicking downhill and the Crew were tiring as the game progressed as they were very busy defending against a relentless Slashers attack. It was soon 3-1 and then 4-1 and now the Crew looked demoralised even though the goal differential was still only three goals. Coach Archer changed some of his players around into different positions and weakened the dominating midfield. When the Slashers went 5-1 up with 20 minutes still to play Coach Archer reduced his team by a player making it 10 versus 11. It was soon 6-1 and Coach Archer immediately took the goalscorer, Jamie Greene, off the field! The Slashers were playing 9 versus 11 for the remainder of the game.

The Slashers relaxed their play and this enabled the Crew to get forward more. A half-hearted kick into the air from a Crew forward saw the ball loop over Patrick in goal and now it was 6-2. Immediately from the restart, Andrew Archer received the centre-kick and dribbled through the centre of the Crew's midfield and defence, he stopped at the top of the 18-yard area and shot at goal. The goalkeeper was surprised and misjudged the ball completely as the ball flew right by him into goal. It was a clear message from the Slashers that they could raise their game and score at any time.

For the remainder of the game, however, the Slashers were content to play keep-away and the game petered out without the Slashers attempting to score any more and the Crew unable to as the Slashers sat back in defence.

Today's goalscorers were Andrew Napier, Christian MacDonald, Andrew Archer, Jamie Greene(2) and Andrew Boughey(2).

Coach Archer's Thoughts

It was another good display today, I'm very proud of them. In the second half I made sure all our less skilled and smaller players got as much playing time as possible. It is a shame that my more skilled senior players get less playing time, and in positions they would rather not play, in order to do this because they deserve to play as much as possible too. If I were to allow this and to let them play in their best positions, with no restriction on how many goals we could score, it could get very ugly for the other teams. It is a huge task to try to be fair to all players and teams in rec. soccer. Obviously the team is on a huge high right now, but I have warned them not to be over confident. Our next opponents could do to us what we have done to our previous two opponents.
21st September, League Game, versus Madison Bananas, Won 2-0
This was the meeting of the two teams with two wins from their first two games and a real test tosee just how good each team was. Bananas had 11 players and no substitutes. The Slashers had 12 players including one substitute. The weather was hot and humid again.

The one thing the Slashers knew about the Bananas was that they had a solid defence with practically the entire defence previous Slashers teams playing for them! These included Ryan Kristoff (spring 2002), Dan Lane (spring 2002) and Stephen Haigh (spring 2001). Plus, they had Kevin Lauder (spring 2002) who could play in any position and speedy winger Sean Stoessel (spring 2001). Both of them had been scoring goals for the Bananas this fall. In goal, they had Greg Traugh, another Slasher (spring 2001).

Coach Archer decided to start the game with his best goalkeeper, Patrick Schaffer.

As the game went on, the Slashers dominated in possession as they were able to press the attack more often, but, as expected, the Bananas defence held tough. Occasionally the Bananase broke out of defence and Sean Stoessel caused the Slashers some problems, but a swarming defence and midfield nullified most of the Bananas counter-attacks. Any that got through caused Patrick in goal few problems.

The Slashers' first goal midway into the first half came out good attacking play and a cracking shot on goal from far out. The Slashers' midfield fed the ball down the left channel where Andrew Archer received it with his back to goal some 25 yards out. He just turned and hit it goalward. It was too hot for the Bananas goalkeeper since he did get his hands on it but all he could do was push the ball over his head and the ball dropped into the net. The goal had the element of luck, but it was a good shot and the Slashers deserved it after all their attacking work. It was to be, however, the only goal of the half.

In the second half the Bananas had more of the ball in the midfield and made it more difficult for the Slashers to dominate as they had in the second half. But, the Slashers were relentless and you could see the Bananas were wearing down bit-by-bit. The Slashers still found the Bananas defence to be very stubborn and only long-range shots were giving the Bananas any real difficulty to contend with. It was from such a shot that the Slashers would go 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go. Again it was Andrew Archer trying his luck and again the shot was too hot for the Bananas goalkeeper as once again he got his hands to it, but couldn't stop it dropping into the net. As the old saying goes, though, if you don't shoot, you don't score. The game ended 10 minutes later.

Coach Archer's Thoughts

This was a much better team the Slashers had to play than in ou previous two games and some of the younger players found it tougher. It was the first time we had finished a game this season at full strength and still looking for another goal! I knew the Bananas would give us a tougher test because we were facing several players I had coached in previous Slashers teams. I knew the Bananas defence would be tough to penetrate so it was important that we tried a lot of shots from distance today and the tactic paid off with both our goals coming from long shots. I was also impressed with some of the running and passing. I was really impressed with how we attacked the ball which resulted in us keeping the Bananas penned into their own half for most of the game. It was a very good performance from all of the Slashers players. Well done!
28th September, League Game, versus Madison Burn, Won 3-0
After the Slashers had comprehensively defeated the three other teams in the League it is inevitable that the other teams would seek to improve themselves and meet the Slashers challenge better prepared. This was the warning Coach Archer gave to his team before this game. Indeed, Madison Burn did prove harder to break down this time.

In the first game against the Burn the Slashers were runaway winners and scoring almost at will. In order to keep the score down without humiliating the Burn Coach Archer would take his better players off and rearrange players into different positions. For most of the second half the Slashers weren't really trying too hard.

This time, the Slashers were playing as best as they could the whole game. It was "only" 2-0 at half-time following goals from Andrew Boughey at close range and Christian MacDonald from long range. The Slashers needed at least one more "insurance" goal and while they dominated possession and territory the Burn put up a brave defence and made it hard for the Slashers to get clean chances on goal.

Not surprisingly, then, the Slashers third and final goal of the day was from a dead ball situation. The Slashers won a corner kick. Andrew Archer perfectly flighted his kick into the centre of the goal mouth and Jamie Greene was right there to head the ball into the net. One doesn't see too many headed goals at this level, but this was Jamie's second one this season!

It was a brave display by the Burn and to their credit they limited the Slashers' goalscoring machine to "just" three goals. They could not produce much offensively, though, so the final score was 3-0.

Coach Archer's Thoughts

I think every game from after our third victory out of our first three games is going to be tougher and tougher. I have already predicted that I doubt they will win all 9 games despite the high potential for this. One week, they will play a highly motivated team and the Slashers may coincidentally have an "off" week and the upset will occur. I have seen it so many times in the past at all levels, even professional club and international soccer.

Today we dominated, but it was a lot harder to score goals. The harder a team tries to score, the more players seem to just want to run with the ball more as if they are trying to win the game on their own. This type of soccer is usually easy to defend and the Burn were successful at this for the most part. Against stiffling defences there are two solutions. Scoring from dead ball situations like free kicks and corners or taking long shots. Of our three goals, one came from a long shot of about 25 yards out and the other came from a corner. The Slashers were only able to score one goal by trying to get closer to goal.

So, the team still has to learn how to play in a proper fashion when faced with adversity, i.e., stiffling defences or packed midfields. Overall, however, the team is playing very well, but we need more shooting at goal.
5th October, League Game, versus Madison Crew, Won 4-1
After having at least 12 players a game all season, it came as a bit of a shock when several players together said they couldn't make this game. At kick off time, the Slashers where down to 8 players. Of the "active roster" missing were Andrew Napier, Peter Carpenter, Matt Sasso and Tyler Gabriele. Three of those players are defenders! Of course, we have an "inactive roster" who cannot make any more games -- Will Adua (plays hockey) and Paddy Stimpson (broken arm).

Coach Archer's major concern was if the Crew coach would "play down" to 8 players. The Crew have not had a good season so far and this could have been an excellent chance to take advantage of the Slashers. The Crew showed up with 11 players, down from their normal 13-a-game. In fairness, the Crew coach agreed to play 8-a-side. The Slashers had no subs and the Crew had 3. This should have been a major advantage for the Crew anyway since it was a hot and humid morning and potentially exhausting for 8 players playing without subs. Once again, no referees showed up, so the Crew coach offered to referee the game.

With the lack of "recognised" defenders the Slashers had to do some major reorganising. Patrick Schaffer once again offered his services as goalkeeper. Patrick has played most of the season in goal but is also a great outfield player. Coach Archer wishes he could find another good goalie to give Patrick more playing time on the field even though Patrick is always a willing goalkeeper. The Slashers set-up in a 3-3-1 formation with Coach Archer knowing that any number of the six midfielders and defenders could easily move into attack at any time.

It was taking the Slashers a little while to settle into this new formation with some of them in positions that they are not used to. In this period the Crew had a lot of possession and scored within 5 minutes as they sliced through the Slashers defence and as Patrick didn't come off his line quick enough to narrow the angle. The goal fired up the Slashers a little bit and they begun to exert their own pressure on the Crew's goal. The Slashers won a free kick some 25 yards out. The referee (the Crew coach) even moved it back a bit more to about 30 yards out. Unknowingly, he probably helped Andrew since his kick was high and dropped down just under the crossbar and the goalkeeper couldn't stop it spinning into the net as it bounced. Within minutes, Andrew Boughey also scored from a goalmouth scramble. 2-1 was the way the score stayed until half-time.

Kicking downhill for the second half the Slashers moved forward confidently. They had a lot of shots on or near goal, but they had to wait for an Andrew Archer corner kick and a Jamie Greene header into the net to extend their lead. After that, the Slashers were cruising. Even when the Crew made any kind of breakaway Ian Stevens in defence was cleaning up everything with his speed and determination. Patrick in goal hardly had anything to do. The game was sewn up 5 minutes from the end when Christian MacDonald drilled home a perfect free kick from some 25 yards out to make it 4-1 to the Slashers.

Coach Archer's Thoughts

I must admit, I was worried when players kept dropping out and we went down to 8 players. In all the years I have coached 11-a-side youth soccer it is the first time any of my teams have been reduced to 8 players before a ball has been kicked! (We have often played down to 9, 8 or even 7 if we have had big leads and trying not to run up the score). But fair play to the other Coach, he did the right thing and played down to our numbers.

Our 8 players were tremendous, they didn't miss a beat. Even when we went 1-0 down early I still felt confident that we would come back and score some goals ourselves.

Ian Stevens was brilliant in defence and with that Christian MacDonald felt comfortable enough to move forward into midfield and sometimes attack! Andrew Archer tired towards the end, but instead of dogging it up front (albeit he was a midfielder today), instead he dropped into defence which is far from his favourite position. "I can't tackle," he says, but he did very well today, plus his clearances went all the way up the field, something you don't often see at this level. Ryan Leblanc was our lone forward but he ran his legs off. He really is trying very hard and we're desperate for him to score a goal. But his work rate was helping to keep the Crew pinned back.

Every player today was a credit to his team, they were all heroes today.
12th October, League Game, versus Madison Bananas, Cancelled
All Madison Youth Soccer Club (MYSC) were cancelled today owing to the pouring rain. It is MYSC's policy not to make up these games on another day owing to the lack of facilities in town.
19th October, League Game, versus Madison Burn, Won 6-2
Having beaten the Burn twice already, a hugely convincing 6-1 thrashing and a more moderate 3-0 win, the Slashers could be forgiven for feeling a little confident in this, their third and final meeting this season.

The game started out as expected with the Slashers running up a 2-0 lead within 10 minutes following goals by Andrew Napier and Peter Carpenter. The Slashers were then punished for some sloppy defending as the Burn caught most of the Slashers up-field. As the Slashers were slow to respond to the Burn's counter-attack, the Burn pulled the score back to 2-1 as goalkeeper Patrick Schaffer was also slow coming off his line to narrow the angle. The Slashers stormed back into attack and after a few more minutes they had restored their two-goal advantage when Will Adua burst through the Burn defence to make it 3-1. With just a few moments before half-time, however, the Burn again sliced through a sloppy Slashers defence to make it 3-2 at half-time.

The Slashers tightened up in defence and midfield in the second half, and kicking downhill they didn't allow the Burn to cross the half-way line too often. It was all Slashers in the second half as Christian MacDonald, Jamie Greene and Andrew Archer all scored. The final score was a now comfortable 6-2 win for the Slashers.

Coach Archer's Thoughts

Once again there was no referee for our game and so, once again, I volunteered my services. I do not mind, I like to be out on the field while the players are playing. As the Slashers began to run up the score in the first half, 2-0 came fairly early, I was already wondering how to slow them down so as not to humiliate the Burn by another big score. But twice in the first half the Slashers were very sloppy in defending and not reacting quick enough to the Burn's counter-attacks. I was a bit unhappy with the lack of effort in some of the players getting back to defend. The first half ended 3-2, but we were making it harder for ourselves.

At half-time I had a word with the players about their team-work and lack of effort at times. These games are so short and there are so few of them, it is in their best interests to give it 100% all of the time and show their true quality.

The half-time talk seemed to work, the players responded magnificently in the second half. We were tighter all over the field and showed better shape (formation) resulting in "shutting out" the Burn completely. We scored three good goals and 6-2 was a good result for us. We didn't beat the other team by too many goals and they, at least did get to score a couple of goals, the most they had in four weeks.
26th October, League Game, versus Madison Crew, Cancelled
All Madison Youth Soccer Club (MYSC) were cancelled today owing to the pouring rain. It is MYSC's policy not to make up these games on another day owing to the lack of facilities in town.
2nd November, League Game, versus Madison Banans, Won 3-0
Owing to the previous game being rained out and a couple of practices being rained out and one missed because of Coach Archer's ankle injury, it seemed a long time since the Slashers had played together. Their game today was against the second best team in the division and the Slashers needed to be in good form.

What the Slashers were really playing for today was to go unbeaten all season --actually to win every game. The Bananas certainly had the potential to upset them. The best part of the Bananas team was a stingy defence. Unfortunately for them today, their best goalscorer was unavailable. Few, if any, of the remainder of their team was a real goal threat.

The Slashers started out strong and dominated much of the first half, but, as expected, were thwarted by the Bananas defence on most occasions. Andrew Archer and Andrew Boughey, however, were able to find the net and give the Slashers a 2-0 half-time lead.

For the second half, Coach Archer really wanted his practically season long goalkeeper to play out in the field for a change. Patrick Schaffer has the qualities and skills to do this, proven by scoring a goal for himself. Andrew Boughey and Andrew Napier shared time in goal for the Slashers in the second half. Both doing extremely well.

The Slashers won 3-0 and maintained a 100% record for the season.

Coach Archer's Thoughts

It is always nice to go 100% for a season and this team deserved it. They were easily the best team in the league this fall. Not that I believe it was all the luck of the draw about getting the best and/or biggest players. We had a lot of small and young players on our team too. It was, I believe, a matter of making sure each player was put into his best position that enabled him to build confidence in himself and have the rest of the team have confidence in him. When I looked at the other teams and how the coaches lined them up and utilised their players I felt they could have done better. A lot of players were playing out of position or were not sufficiently motivated. This all contributed to their downfalls against a team playing with a lot of confidence and high morale, like the Slashers.

I must admit, I was a little bit nervous playing the Bananas in this last game. The Slashers -- and I -- dearly wanted to go 100% for the season and the Bananas dearly wanted to be the one team to beat us, and they had enough quality to do it. They seemed to rely too much on their defence to hold out as long as possible and hope for a counter attack. Today, it didn't work.

Today I have coached some of the players for the last time. They will either be too old in the next season, or they have tried out for the comp. team and succeeded in being selected. I am very sad to lose such players. It has been an honour and a pleasure coaching them and seeing them grow and develop as young soccer players.