Sorry for the delay. I had a fairly busy day yesterday trying to get the summer league stuff finalized. Everything is nearly complete on that matter and will be announced shortly.
On to Valley!
The team left Des Moines Friday afternoon to watch the semifinal between Lincoln and Millard West. This gave the boys plenty of time to recover from the long drive and to scout both of our potential opponents for Saturday.
Lincoln employed a very Tierney-esque offense by stalling the ball after going up by a goal. While I am not a fan of the Tierney offense as a rule, I am even more against such a tactic in the first half. Especially when the team employing the offense is only up by a single goal. While slowing down the game is a valid strategy no matter the time or scoreline, holding the ball in such a way so early allows the defending team to capitalize on mistakes. It is very difficult for an offense to recuperate from the super slow play. Final Score: Lincoln 6, Millard West 7
We had a little more than an hour to prepare for our third match up with Prep. Although we had lost the two previous games, we knew that our full team was available for this game. Prep's full squad was on hand as well. We both knew what was at stake and both teams came out with extreme intensity.
Over the course of the game, the Tigers fell behind by three or more goals on three separate occasions. Valley managed to come back on all three occasions. The game was tight all the way to the end with many chances coming from both sides and big plays being made all over the field. In the end, the Bluejays held on to continue their uninterrupted championship game streak. Final Score: Valley 10, Prep 11
After a Saturday spent bowling and hanging out at Buffalo Wild Wings, the boys seemed ready to leave Omaha in third place. The field was hot and the air was humid when we arrived at Tranquility. Lincoln was already warming up in pads while we opted to stay light.
Game time saw a careless Valley team. Friday's desire was nowhere to be found as the team sloppily played through the first half. At half time, head coach Zielonko reminded them that this was the final game of the season. This wake up call resulted in a fierce comeback and a tie score at the end of regulation. Strong defense on both sides led to a second sudden death period. Unfortunately, Lincoln managed to get a lucky bounce into the back of the Valley net and secure third place. Final Score: Valley 5, Lincoln 6 Double OT
I did not stay for the championship, but Creighton Prep easily defeated Millard West 9-2. Both teams will lose critical players next year, further opening the door for Lincoln and Valley to claim the league's top spots. Lincoln is only losing a single starter to graduation.
Overall, I am proud of the way the Tigers played this season. To finish in the top four as a first year varsity team is a great accomplishment. Considering that a significant number of our players are underclassmen, this feat is even greater. We only graduate four starters and two depth players. Our entire midfield unit is expected to return and we have confidence in next year's likely starters at all positions. Most importantly, goalie Hunter Couch should be back in net; Couch continues to improve and should have little difficulty being named the best goalie in the league next year.