Epic! Just Not The Good Kind!

So let me first say I missed the game.  Not knowing the playoff schedule months ago, the family scheduled a trip to Madison for homecoming, a Badger game and some “Cooper time”.  The game ended up a blow out win, so that was nice.  The weather, well that was not so nice, a blizzard broke out in the first half and with the score pretty lopsided, our only goal was could we make it to “Jump Around” to start the 4th quarter.  We made it…..just barely.

But I have to also say, I had a different game on my mind.  My mind kept drifting to the Memorial playoff game starting at 1:00.   Could we get hot and make a deep run into the playoffs.  This year Memorial was not a dominant team ranked in the Top 10, but they have lots of talent, and enough senior leadership that anything is possible.

So, sitting at the Badger game, and just thinking about the Abes.  I had planned to text for updates but decided against it.  I know the emotion of the playoffs and did not want to distract any of the parents.  I have a few people who I rely on for updates but it just didn’t feel right to bug them.  And then my mind started to wander……how are they doing….I wonder what the score is…..if no one is texting me is that good….if no one is texting me is that bad….why isn’t anyone texting me!

So around 3:00, I start checking the WIAA website for updates, but there is no update.  Plenty of 1:00 games have ended and the scores are posted, but nothing on Memorial.  Starting to get anxious and start checking the site every few minutes.  Nothing.  I mention it to Kathy.  She decides to check.  After 4:00 now, so there must be a final.  My instincts are not good, feel like I would have heard if it was good news.  Kathy connects with a Memorial soccer supporter for an update.  I walk into the room as she is on he call and initially I think it’s good news, Kathy is smiling and the call seems energetic…..I get a bit excited.

But it was not meant to be, the news is not good, the energy is from the caller explaining the intensity of the game, the unbelievable finish, the craziness of two red cards, the amazing comeback from down 2 goals and down a player and a coach, the almost beat them anyway feeling, but eventually just the gut wrenching loss, the heartbreak of coming up just short.  Plenty of tears were shed I am pretty sure.  From players and parents.

A few thoughts.

-It must have been an unbelievable emotional roller coaster.  Memorial takes an early 1-0 lead at the 10 minute mark.  Emotions riding high.  Our defense has been strong all year.  Appleton responds to tie it up at 28 minutes.  Appleton takes the lead on a PK.  Frustrating when refs award PK’s in playoff games and they are almost always a bit controversial. Appleton scores in 45th minute. Really disappointed, from up 1 to down 2 in the final 17 minutes of the half.

-Frustrations likely hit their peak in the first 3 minutes of the second half.  I can only imagine.  Within the span of a few minutes you have a player sent off on a red card after picking up his second yellow.  You are down 2 goals and down to 10 players and you feel like it can’t get any worse than this, there is nothing else that can go wrong, no possible way…….but then is goes from frustration to the absurd.  The ref calls a second yellow on the bench and your head coach is red carded and is forced to leave the game.  What!   The emotional roller coaster just hit bottom.  Oh man!

-Bench Yellow’s are always interesting. Is the coach frustrated and not getting any calls.  Is a coach trying to protect his players.  Is a coach just looking to make sure the next calls go their way.  And why can’t the referee manage their way thru that…..why do they feel the need to interject themselves into the game and become the spotlight.  This game had 2 PK’s, very unusual.  2 Red cards, very unusual and a coach ejected, really very unusual.  I just don’t like a ref who has an ego or not enough confidence to absorb a little discomfort.  It’s a big game, emotions are riding high.  There are yellows and PK’s and you must expect the coaches are going to get a little animated. Red card the coach.  Amazing.

-The comeback.  So there are a few directions a game can go when the head coach is ejected.  It can go South quickly.  The team can fall apart, blame the refs, blame each other and never recover.  Or the team can use the moment to come together, find some resolve, take the red card personally and refocus and double their effort to honor their coach.  That’s what I love about Memorial soccer.  The tradition, the talent, the coaching, the support….all combine to make the Abes a program that fights.  And that’s what they did.  They score just a few minutes after the red card. 3-2 and a flicker of hope.  Their game actually improves playing down a man.  They are playing free and loose and really start to control the game.  Shots are coming.  They look dangerous.  And then at 81 minutes, it happens, a little redemption for the earlier PK and the red card, Memorial catches a break and has their own PK.  Mitch Brenner who has scored the first two goals, calmly buries the PK for a hat trick. The emotional roller coaster is racing down the steep hill and your hands are in the air and you are screaming.  Oh my.  3-3 and 9 minutes to go.  Fans and parents are fully drained at this point.  Emotions are zapped.  The nerves are shot. You have nothing left to give.

-9 more minutes and 2 overtime’s of sit on the edge of your seat, a goal ends this game emotion.  Memorial has chances to end it.  But a game like this can really only end one way, a PK shootout.  And not your run of the mill, exciting, everyday type shootout, no, this game needed something more.  It needed the longest PK shootout likely in Memorial soccer history,  not sure there are any stats on this one, but coach Eric Wirth mentioned he never remembered one longer and he has been a player or coach since the early 2000’s.  I don’t either.  12 deep.  That is just crazy.  Not sure if Memorial had chances to win at any point.  I know from the paper that there were a few moments where they might lose on the next kick.  Emotions drained but likely the nerves were tingling, anxiety everywhere.  Hold your breath and pray anxiety. You feel like you just watched 10 scary movies.

-I wish I had the PK recap….it finished at 10-9 in the 12th round.  I am not sure what happens after everyone on the field shoots.  Did Memorial have players start taking their second PK of the shootout?  I don’t know that rule.  Never thought I would need to know that rule. But eventually it has to end.  PK endings are cruel.  12 round PK endings are brutal.  I just can’t imagine at the end even being able to breathe or stand up.  Parents must have been completely drained.  Can you imagine being the parent of a GK.  It takes a special person. No way.  I love Tyler Hanson and would not want anyone else in goal for my team.  The pressure on shooters is immense.  Can you imagine stepping up to take the kick in the 10th-11th-or 12th round of the shootout.  My legs would not have worked, but these kids just do it. Amazing!

-And then it is over.  Appleton celebrating an epic victory.  Memorial players collapsing and devastated, Memorial parents likely just sad.  They are hurting for their kids.  It is just so final for the seniors and parents of seniors.  It’s over.  No more games.  I remember last year at state and just feeling empty for awhile.  But as well, feeling really proud.  I hope that is the lasting feeling.  Being really proud that the boys were able to overcome a really strange game, fight back to tie and battle to the end. Epic for sure. Just not the good kind!

I wish I could hug every player and say Thanks.  Thanks for all your hard work and representing Memorial soccer.  You are part of the family .  My lasting memory from last year and it fits pretty well for this year.  No words, just a hug!

Continue Reading

2018 Regionals: Memorial Edges Past North

Updated Post

Some Notes on the Game:

-I wasn’t sure how the final shot tally would look, but I knew it would be a big difference.  I was guessing around 20-5 in shots and that was pretty close in Memorials favor.  I could not remember a shot on goal in the second half for North.  A few long free kicks which can be dangerous, but Memorial really locked down the game in the second half.

-The goal with 4 seconds to go in the half by North was a gut punch and could have been a huge momentum swing.  Coming out for the second half, North was loud.  I am guessing full of confidence and ready for the upset.  Memorial never let them get going.  The shots started coming in the first few minutes and never stopped the entire half.  I think around 15 shots in the second half.  That’s a bunch.

-In the 2nd game of the season, the North Midfield really played well.  They created a ton of counter attack opportunities and moved the ball into space consistently.  Not on Tuesday.  Memorial seemed aware of this and kept the potent duo of Podolak and Xiong under control all night.

-Unsung hero: Ryder Woodworth.  Part of the reason Podolak and Xiong were not as dangerous was Woodworth.  His tracking and midfield play helped stabilize things for the Abes.  As well, I must point out that on the winning goal, Ryder had two key moments.  He wins a ball in Midfield early in the possession and makes a nice over the head kick into the Memorial half.  Almost instantly, North wins back the ball, but Ryder makes a great tackle in Midfield and wins the ball back.  His two midfield wins allow Rosenberger the chance to  make the run into the box, and Peloquin to make the pass into the middle so that Zumwalt can header it home.  It never happens without the midfield play from Woodworth.

Next Game Appleton North

-Appleton North has a solid program and some success in the state tournament back in 2010, getting too the state finals.  The record this year , from what I can find, was 13-4.  Nice win over Arrowhead was the best win I found.  A close loss to Kimberly who is ranked second in our Sectional.  Neenah, ranked in the Top 10 in the state beat them as well.

-One common opponent this year is Middleton.  Memorial tied them 1-1 and Middleton beat Appleton North.  From the games I see and the common opponent, the #5 seeding makes sense.  Memorial on paper is the slight favorite and playing at home makes for a nice advantage as well.  If they both play their best, Memorial should find a way….but as they say….that’s why they play the games.  Go Abes!!

Original Post

Maybe this Rivalry is real.  Another hotly contested game that went to the half tied at 1.  Memorial took control in the second half, controlled possession, dominated in shots all night, and found a game winner.

Lots more to add tomorrow. but I wanted to drop these couple of videos out there tonight for everyone’s viewing pleasure.  A certain someone will enjoy them….starts with an M….ends with chelle….she had a really big smile on her face as the game ended.  Nice!  I love it when good things happen to players who work really hard,  are humble and are great teammates.  I have mentioned several times on the blogs this year that Lucas was due for a big goal.  He had been close many times this year, but it just didn’t happen.  Well, it happened tonight.

Here is a little foreshadowing of the goal later.

And then a crushing blow when North scores with 4 seconds to go in the half.   Nice goal, but tough to give that one up on a set play.

But then this happened.

I will be back tomorrow for some game evaluation, updates on other games and a preview of the Regional Finals on Saturday.

Go Abes.  Shock the World!

Continue Reading

2018 Playoff Brackets

Okay Soccer Fans–it is officially playoff season.  The brackets are out and here is a snapshot of the local teams and upcoming games.

The link to the brackets can be found at:  https://www.wiaawi.org/Sports/BoysSoccer.aspx,  Tried to activate the link, but no success.  You can type into Google search Wisconsin Boys Soccer Playoffs and it’s the first website on the list.

Games of Interest From Big Rivers Conference and area teams: First Round Games on Tuesday October 16th

Division 1

#4 Memorial vs. #13 North @ Memorial at 4:00.

#3 Hudson vs. #14 Superior @ Hudson

#1 Green Bay Preble vs. #16 Chippewa Falls @ Preble

Division 2

#2 River Falls vs. #7 Menomonie @ River Falls at 4:00.

Division 3

#2 Rice Lake vs. #7 Ashland @ Rice Lake on Thursday at 7:00

Division 4

#1 Amery vs. #8 Regis @ Amery at 4:00

Notes:

–Doesn’t it seem like Memorial plays North every year early in the Regionals.  Maybe not, but just seems like they always get paired up. Cross town rivalry and the playoffs make for an intriguing match up and an emotional game.  North will bring it, Memorial needs to be ready.

–First time Hudson or Memorial have not been a #1 or #2 seed in a long time.

–Green Bay Preble is the only team from Sectional #1 to be in the Top 10 Coaches Poll.  That makes them the overwhelming favorite to advance to State, but, if someone can upset them, it is a wide open bracket.

Get your popcorn ready….it is about to get real.  Can Memorial get on a run and go deep into the Section.

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Premier League Match Week 8 Recap: October 14

Let’s get caught up.

Things are starting to take shape in the Premier League.  We are now thru 8 matches and the proverbial “Cream” is starting to rise to the top.  The teams in trouble are starting to panic a bit and the teams at the bottom are now realizing they have to fight to stay in the Premier League.

Match Week 8 Recap

This week was all about 1 v 2.  Liverpool vs. Manchester City.  The two teams predicted to finish first in the table clashing on the pitch.  Most expected a high scoring game with two of the leagues best offenses on display.  So as usually happens when you think about a high-flying offensive battle, , the game finishes in a 0-0 draw.  Wow….did not see that one coming.  But it makes for an interesting table and a perfect result for Chelsea.

It was an interesting game off “almost.  Shots almost going in, PK’s almost called, star players almost making some incredible plays, but int he end, the GK’s came up big when needed and kept it a draw.  Toward the end of the game, Manchester City earned a PK in the 85th minute.  It was a shame as I was watching the game.  A bummer that Liverpool would lose this late on a PK after battling so hard the entire game.  Riyad Mahrez stepped to the line to earn the 3 points for Manchester City….but you already know…the game ended in a draw.  Check out the highlights below and keep watching to the end.  Not likely Mahrez will get another opportunity to kick a PK for a while after this attempt.

In other games the winners were:

Brighton 1-0 over West Ham

Wolverhampton 1-0 over Crystal Palace.  The Wolves are the new darlings of the Premier League after being promoted and now threatening the Top 6.

Bournemouth 4-0 over Watford

Everton 2-1 over Leicester

Tottenham 1-0 over Cardiff City

Manchester United 3-2 over Newcastle United.

Arsenal 5-0 over Fulham.  Watch out for Arsenal, they are playing some of the best soccer in the league right now…very dangerous.

Chelsea 3-0 over Southampton.  Eden Hazard is the Best player in the Premier League right now.  He is on quite a roll.

Race for the Title and Champions League Top 4

Win-Tie-Loss

1. Manchester City  6-2-0  20 Points

2. Chelsea    6-2-0   20 Points

3. Liverpool    6-2-0   20 Points

4. Arsenal      6-0-2   18 Points

5. Tottenham    6-0-2   18 Points

6. Bournemouth 5-1-2   16 Points

Wolves, Manchester United, Watford and Leicester round out the Top 10.

Relegation Zone

5 Teams are currently fighting to stay up.  Southampton and Fulham with 5 points are in the danger zone.

18. Huddersfield 0-3-5   3 Points

19. Newcastle United  0-2-6   2 Points

20.  Cardiff City 0-2-6   2 Points

 

Match Week 9 Preview

Game of the Week.

Manchester United vs. Chelsea.  Chelsea fans would love to put a dagger in Marinho’s team and be the reason he gets fired.  It will be interesting on the pitch and on the sidelines.  How will the fans embrace their former coach who left them in shambles a few years back. A Man U wins gets them back on track…a Chelsea wins establishes their hopes to be in the title hunt all season.  It should be a good one!

In Case You Missed It

An interesting game between bottom of the table Newcastle United and Manchester City.  Many of the experts are predicting Jose Marinho will be fired soon after the slowest start to a Manchester United season in many many years.  There is trouble with their star player Paul Pogba, and the fans are restless.  So they start their game against Newcastle down 2-0 early and very easily could have been 3-0 if not for an amazing save and a non-call on a pretty obvious hand ball in the box.  Then, summoning seasons past, Man U comes back for an epic victory 3-2.  Amazing really.  Will it save Marinho’s job.  Did he earn a few more weeks to figure things out.  It is an evolving soap opera.  Most are surprised he did not get fired last week, but he is a cat with 9 lives, so he continues on, hoping the team can use the rally as a springboard to a strong few weeks of play.

 

Continue Reading

Big Rivers Conference Update; October 14

Update on Big Rivers Conference

Games for the Week of OCTOBER 8

Tuesday Games: Memorial 3 v Menomonie 0, Hudson 2 v Chippewa Falls 0, River Falls 4 v North 0

Thursday Games: Memorial 1 v Rice Lake 0, Menomonie 0 v Chippewa Falls 0,  Hudson 0 v River Falls 1

Big Rivers Conference Final Standings

Win -Loss -Tie

Hudson                           10-1-1     31 Points  Conference Champs!!

Memorial                        9-1-2       29 Points

Rice Lake                       7-4-1       22 Points

River Falls                      6-5-1       19 Points

North                              4-6-2      14 Points

Menomonie                   1-9-2       5 Points

Chippewa Falls             0-11-1      1 Points

River Falls with the most impressive week to end the season.  Two wins and a BIG win over Hudson.  Likely Hudson was resting players, Conference already wrapped up, but regardless, its a big win for River Falls, a little bump in the road, and maybe some doubt for Hudson.  River Falls could be dangerous in the playoffs…a hot team building some confidence.

Original Post

Lets get caught up on a few games and the Conference Standings with just a few games left before playoff seeding.

Memorial vs. Park (Non-Conference).  During their solid second half against Hudson, it felt like Maybe Memorial found something.  A new gear, a new energy, may some urgency as the season is winding down and the seniors realize its now or never.  Sometimes playing with that “we have nothing to lose” mentality can work for a team.  In their next outing over the weekend, Memorial put a big number in their annual cross state rivalry with Park (Cottage Grove), winning 5-0.  Typically, it is a very competitive gamer.  I was not able to attend but can share that the score in their series is generally much closer.  Working to get some details and who/how we scored but suffice to say, it is a solid win against a good program.

Memorial vs. Menomonie.  After their first contest where Menomonie looked really strong and Memorial won 3-0 after leading only 1-0 at the half, Memorial put up another 3-0 win, but this one happened all in the first half as the game was called in the second half due to weather and field conditions.  Goals from Nunez, Rosenberger and Smith was enough to carry the day.  This marks 2 games and a half without giving up a goal.

Interesting Note.  Memorial has played 10 straight games with giving up less than two goals.  5 of those games were shut outs and the remaining 5 they only gave up 1 goal.  That is a good sign heading into the playoffs.  The defense and GK play is sound and improving throughout the season.

 

Here is a quick update on the Big Rivers Conference play.

Postponed Games Recap

River Falls 5 v Menomonie  0

Chippewa Falls 0 v Rice Lake 2

North 0 v Hudson 4 

Week of October 1 Games

Memorial 0 v North 0 , Hudson 1  v Rice Lake 0, River Falls 2 v Chippewa Falls 0

Hudson 1 v Memorial 1, Chippewa Falls 1 v North 4, Menomonie 2 v Rice Lake 2

Big Rivers Conference Standings

Win -Loss -Tie

Hudson                           10-0-1    31 Points  Conference Champs!!

Memorial                        8-1-2     26 Points

Rice Lake                       7-3-1     22 Points

North                              4-5-2      14 Points

River Falls                      4-5-1       13 Points

Menomonie                   1-9-1       4 Points

Chippewa Falls             0-11-0     0 Points

Quick Take Aways:

-Top 3 spots in the Conference are settled. Hudson is your Big Rivers Conference Champions, Memorial is a solid 2nd and Rice Lake is a solid 3rd.  All will be dangerous in the playoffs.

Games for the Week of OCTOBER 8

Tuesday Games: Memorial 3 v Menomonie 0, Hudson 2 v Chippewa Falls 0, River Falls v North

Thursday Games: Memorial v Rice Lake, Menomonie v Chippewa Falls,  Hudson v River Falls

Other Notes

Coaches Poll for October 8th week: 1. Marquette  2. Neenah  3. Kettle Moraine  4. Verona  5. Madison West  6. Sussex Hamilton  7. Green Bay Preble  8. Sun Prairie  9. Hartford 10. Madison Memorial

Looks like to get to State, we will have to get past Green Bay Preble….would love to play them again.

 

 

Continue Reading

Memorial Week in Review: A Tough Week but Still Optimisitic

Okay okay, I know.  Why haven’t I posted yet after two big games this week. It’s a fair question.  Can I use the I’m busy excuse…probably not, everyone is busy.  Can I use the work got in thew way excuse, probably not, I have used that one a few times.  Can I use the fact I was bummed out after the tie to North this week, because that is all I have really.  Was hoping for a big Hudson win to pick me back up.

It was an interesting week for Memorial.  Coming off their best weekend of the year and facing a city rivalry game and then their biggest conference game of the year against Hudson.  Let’s get into it.

Memorial vs. North  0-0

First, let’s discuss North a bit.  Maybe the best North team I have sen in a number of years, maybe ever.  I have followed High School soccer seriously since 2008-2009.  In my time, North has never seriously challenged Memorial in the standings or on the pitch.  It has been a one-sided affair.  I may not have it exact, but I think 20+ wins in a row for the Abes.  And most of those were not very competitive yo be honest. So what is different.

-North has some players.  I think their midfielder, #10, sorry I did not get the name, but will research, was the best player on the field on Tuesday. I hear he is on St. Croix’s top academy team and it showed.  Fast, quick, great feet, great vision, great field awareness.  Really impressive.  He game Memorial trouble all night,  and not just one player, their midfield was really good.  Their defense has improved and is a strong unit.  They play smart.  Their GK made some impressive stops and played aggressive.  They have some speed up top and can be dangerous on the counter attack.  I think their forwards have outscored Memorial this year.

-North brought some attitude and swag.  North did not sit back in the low block and just defend all night.  North possessed.  North counter attacked, North found space in the midfield and out wide to put pressure on Memorials defense.  North looked dangerous.  Lots and lots of previous games North really was not in the game.  You would just wait for Memorial to score.  You knew it was coming, it was just a matter of time.  10 North players behind the ball all night.  The ball in the Memorial zone all night.  Not on Tuesday.  It was a very competitive game.  Kudos to North.  Well played.

-Memorial was just a step slow or a step off all night.  After watching them over the weekend, this one felt a little different.  Not sure.  Just speculating, but they were coming off their best soccer of the year, maybe thinking about Hudson on Thursday, maybe overlooking an opponent they have defeated for like 10 years straight, they are a young and inexperienced team, they are still learning….you get it.  It is a process.  You need to learn tough lessons.  Bringing it every night and playing your best is critical.  They did not play bad….just not quite the level required.  They out shot North but a large margin.  They left a few goals on the pitch.  They were just a little off their game.

-North only had 5-6 shots but it seemed like everyone was a one on one vs. Tyler Hanson.  Tyler had a highlight reel of saves.  On another day with another GK, I could see North scoring 2-3 goals.  Dangerous thru balls, dangerous balls over the top, dangerous crosses into the box.  North looked more dangerous tonight than usual.  In the past, it was dump and run and hope for a break.  Not on Tuesday.  It was calculated and precise and dangerous. It was a good game.  0-0 sounds boring, but this game was anything but boring.  Maybe this is the start of a new rivalry.  It would be great for city soccer.  No more taking North lightly.

Lets check out some highlights.  Almost got one at the end of the first half.

This was a tight call.  If you watch the ball when it is passed, Brenner is very close to being on side.  After a bunch of views I am leaning to it being a good call, but pretty close.  On this night, Memorial was just one step from a PK.

Brenner with the flick.  Just wide.

I know Zumwalt has a big goal coming soon.  Painful to see how close he has gotten this year in some big moments.  Keep shooting kid, you are due.  A nice play and just needs another few inches wide and it is a goal.

This is the game right here.  A great sequence for both teams.  After some nice passing combinations, Brenner finds Peloquin in the box but a great kick save by the North keeper.  The ball deflects to Zumwalt., yes, Zumwalt, and I am thinking this is it, this is the one, an open net. He hits it good, the goal is open, the keeper out of the play, but at the last moment a North defender slides into the space, turns his back and BAM….a butt shot….goal denied.  Wow.  Just wow.  Clearly it was not meant to be on this night for Memorial; North steps up and breaks the Streak.  Bummer dude!

Memorial vs. Hudson 1-1

So, sometime a tie feels like a loss, see notes above for North game.  But sometimes a tie almost feels like a win.  See notes below on Hudson game.

First Half.  A cold rainy night for soccer but it did not seem to impact the play on the field.  Hudson showed why they are undefeated in the first half and looked the better team.  Their midfield is very impressive.   Kolton Prater can really dominate a game from midfield.  His possession, his field vision, his passing and sometimes his shooting make him my choice for the Player of the Year in Conference.  Hudson’s defense is big, fast, athletic, skilled, aggressive and tough to deal with.  They really shut down Memorials first half attacks.

The first half Memorial was on their heels a bit.  Hudson found space in midfield, connected with wing players and narrowly missed on two shots they just rolled wide by inches.  I think the first one from Prater hit the right post.  GK Hanson had to play sweeper keeper on a few occasions to keep the score at 0-0.  Hudson just looked a little better across the pitch.  Memorial’s most dangerous moments came on set plays.  They earned a handful of corners and each time, there were chances to score.  Hudson cleaned things up each time, but the corners looked dangerous.  Not many shots from the regular course of play.  Too many thru balls that did not connect or balls into space that the Hudson defense cleaned up.  It feels this defense is too good to beat that way.  Combination play and passing to feet seems the ticket against Hudson.  Late in the half on a long free kick (35-40 yards), Hudson struck gold.  A floated ball from Prater found the head of a Hudson player and it just floated into the goal.  Hanson just missed a punch to clear the ball.  A game of inches, but Hudson took advantage and went into half up 1-0.

Second Half.  Would love to hear the halftime talk.  Kite has done a great job with this team and it showed again in the second half last night.  The team looked different to start the second half.   They were energized.  They were pressing all over the field.  They were winning balls and improving their possession and passing.  If you walked into the game in the second half, you would have thought Memorial was the leader of the conference and the better team.  It was a good sign.

After Tuesday’s tie, the Conference crown seemed lost.  No way Hudson would lose a game and tie a game with only a few left.  The real focus now was to keep improving and be at the peak of your season entering the playoffs.  Conference titles are nice, but lets move on to getting ready for post season.  There was a lesson that needed to be learned.  Overcome a tough game (tie to North) and overcome a deficit against a very good team (down 1-0 at the half to Hudson).  Find a way and lift your game. And that is what happened.  You could feel the energy swing,  you could feel it with players and as well on the bench.  The coaches were fully engaged.  The players were working hard.  And it showed!  Memorials started connecting and improving their possession.  Balls were going to feet.  Players were moving better.  More players were in the attack.  Fewer long balls into space.  Harder tackles, quicker stepping to deny possession to Hudson.  More precise play to break down the defense.  I think the team can take their second half against Hudson and build on it.  I know this…I would not want to play  Memorial in the playoffs as the higher seeded team.  They have been right there all year and if they put it together….watch out.

Lets take a look at some highlights.

Jared is going to score on one of these again this year.  Another close one in the first half.

Sulzer narrowly misses the equalizer.  Memorial was pressing all half.  Set plays were dangerous all half.  Almost!!

So, a little foreshadowing for you.  Take a look at this play from Peloquin.  A ball near the end line , a shot rifled across the box, Brenner lurking dangerously in the box…but a save by the GK.  Just sayin, maybe something like this might happen again later.

Sometimes you forget the play before the play.  Here it is.  If not for the constant pressure from Peloquin and the hustle from Rosenberger, the throw in that results might never have happened.  Sometimes the play before the play is as important or more important.

Look familiar.  Peloquin along the line, a cross rifled into the box, Brenner lurking…..BAM. Beautiful header….GOOOOAAAAALLLL!

Memorial kept pressing and almost got a game winner.  Bummer dude!

So an interesting week.  Two ties…two very competitive games.  I hope the lingering memory will be the second half comeback against Hudson, out playing the conference leaders and coming from a goal down.  Let’s build off that and be a very dangerous team in the playoffs.  Go Abes. Trust the process!

Continue Reading

Memorial Completes a Weekend Double: Builds Momentum

A quick weekend update for you.

Memorial v. Wauwatosa East

Memorial stepped out of Big Rivers Conference for a weekend Quad over the past two days.  And a successful weekend it was.  On Friday night, Memorial faced off against Wauwatosa East, coached by an old friend of the program.  Jordan Stein, who spent several years coaching in the ECU club program as well as a year coaching Memorial JV, is now the head coach of Wauwatosa East Boys soccer program.  It was great to see Jordan.  I expect big things from him at Tosa.  He has a young tam….really young team….so this year is more about development.  Watch out in the coming years once he gets time to fully implement his style and program.  A great young man and happy for his success.  Having said that, I was also excited that Memorial stepped up and played a really solid game against.

The first half was one of the most complete halves we have played this year.  The energy was excellent.  The boys were pressing all over the field.  Fullbacks were fully engaged forward and making an impact.  The midfield was strong, controlling Tosa’s best player and limiting their possession.  The wing play was dynamic all game.  Forward and attacking midfielders were dangerous all game as well.  It was an impressive half of soccer.  As well,  the goals were falling tonight too.  A few from unexpected places.  The second half was what you expect.  After getting to half at 3-0, you want to control and kill off the game and all threats.  That is what Memorial did….a well played, professional 3-0 victory for the Abes.  Their first non-conference win this year after being close a few times.

-Will Hartman.  I see you!  Welcome to Varsity.  Way top make your minutes count young fella.  4 goals in the past three games.  Scoring from unexpected places is a nice added benefit as the season develops.  Takes some pressure off the key goal scorers.   Keeps a defense honest.

-Justin Smith.  I see you too young fella.  Multiple assists and firing crosses into dangerous spots on demand.

-Coaching staff.  I feel you too.  I really like to line up moves and adjustments this year.  Multiple moves all appear to be paying dividends.  Players are getting comfortable.  Rotations are getting set.  Players are delivering now that they fully understand their roles.  Kudos to Coach Kite and Wirth on a job well done so far.  Young teams take time and I like how the team is developing.

Memorial v. Madison East

The second game of the quad  was today.  I did not stay but did get a quick scoring report.  I watched most of the Madison East v. Oshkosh West game on Friday night and can confirm both teams were full of talented players, fast wingers, dynamic forwards and aggressive defenders.  I knew that whoever came away with the win was going to be a true test for Memorial.  I did a little research on Madison East.  They are in one of the most difficult conferences in Wisconsin…The Big 8.  Currently The Big 8 has 4 teams ranked in the Top 10 in the Recent Coaches Poll….yes, 4 teams.  Verona-5, Madison West-7, Madison Memorial-8, Sun Prairie-9.  Can you imagine that.  Crazy.  If the Big Rivers had 4 teams ranked.  Every conference game is a war.. Very hard conference.  Madison East is not ranked but has a win over Madison West and a tie against Madison Memorial.  They are a very good team, a high quality opponent.

If I have not mentioned…Memorial 2 – Madison East 1.  Big win for the Abes.  1-1 at the half on a goal from recently hot Will Hartman.  A game winner from Mitch Brenner, Mr. Clutch on a free kick.  I think…so far…this is the best win of the season for Memorial.  A great sign heading into the final third of the season and heading into the big week next week in Big rivers.  North on Tuesday and then the big one against Hudson on Thursday.

-The Friday night game was a great primer for Hudson.  On turf, under the lights, cool weather.  Feels the coaches have the boys ready.

-Oshkosh West defeated Wauwatosa East 2-1 in the early game this morning.

Lets check out some highlights.

Will Hartman.  Right spot, right time….delivers.

Will Hartman.  Right spot, right time…delivers…Volume II.  Sorry about the video quality.  Should have zoomed out a bit but was trying to get some close up shots for everyone..Another cold night….hands might have been shaking a bit…bigger coat next time.  I promise to keep getting better, but hey, where else can you go to get this type of average quality, shaky video of your favorite boys soccer team.  I say nowhere, so we are stuck with each other and poor quality video.  Enjoy!

Missed the Luke Rosenberger goal, I actually thought I had it, hit the record button, was about to view it afterwards and bam….the light was not blinking.  I missed the button in my haste to record.  See notes above on my poor quality video.  More promises to get better…insert here…but I found this.  A nice representation.  I hope you appreciate the comparison Luke!

In honor of the free kick goal from Mitch for today’s game winner…check this out.

I hope you appreciate the comparison as well!

Continue Reading

Premier League Update: September 28

Let’s get caught up.

Liverpool is now the only team with no dropped point this season, a perfect 6-0 start to the season.  We thought Chelsea could have a tough week.  They played in the Europa League away game in Greece on Thursday, had their flight delayed until Friday morning and then had an away game against West ham United on Sunday.  Tough scheduling.  The result, a 0-0 tie against West Ham.  Points dropped for the first time this season.

Match Week 6 Recap

-Liverpool make it six straight wins to start the season with the 3-0 win over Southampton.

-Chelsea with the 0-0 tie knocks them down a peg in the standings.

-Manchester United create more fan fears with their tie against Wolves and then later their loss in the League Cup against lower level Derby.  Man U is in disarray right now.  Pogba…what are you going to do?

-Manchester City roll on 5-0 over Cardiff City, they are looking very dangerous..

-Arsenal wins their 4th straight after opening with two losses, a 2-0 win over Everton.

-Other winners include Leicester City, Burnley and Tottenham.

Race for the Title and Champions League Top 4

Win-Tie-Loss

1. Liverpool    6-0-0   18 Points

2. Manchester City  5-1-0  16 Points

3. Chelsea    5-1-0   16 Points

4. Watford     4-1-1   13 Points

5. Tottenham    4-0-2   12 Points

6. Arsenal 4-0-2   12 Points

Manchester United drops to 7th.

Relegation Zone

West Ham with another point to keep climbing up the table.  Burnley with a win to get them clear as well.  Both now with 4 points.

18.  Newcastle 0-2-4   2 Points

19.  Cardiff City 0-2-4   2 Points

20. Huddersfield 0-2-4   2 Points

 

Match Week 7 Preview

Game of the Week.

Liverpool v. Chelsea.  Epic battle between two of the giants of the league.  Chelsea just defeated Liverpool 2-1 in the League Cup on Wednesday…can they pull off the double.  Will Liverpool return the favor and take down Chelsea.  Must see TV….Saturday at 11:30!

In Case You Missed It

Chelsea highlights against Liverpool from Wednesday.  A little teaser to get you ready for Saturday.  Watch and enjoy.  Eden Hazard…oh my!!!  Best player in the world right now?  Based on this goal…maybe.

 

 

Continue Reading

Big Rivers Conference Update: September 28

Memorial vs. River Falls

I was not able to attend the game, but wanted to drop in a few updates for everyone in case you missed it as well.  Memorial scored early on a Brenner goal but River Falls quickly matched them at the 8 minute mark for a 1-1 game.  Memorial responded in the 16th minute on a goal by Rosenberger.  A great sign that these two are scoring goals and leading the team.  2-1 at the half until another Memorial goal by Brenner…he is getting hot right now….in the 56th minute made it 3-1.  Late goals at the end by Memorial in the 89th minute extended the lead to 5-1.  Solid win by the Abes.

-Will Hartman and Ashton Johnson scored their first Varsity goals for Memorial…always a cool moment.  Well done lads!

-Memorial out shot River Falls 17-4, sign of a dominating performance, even if it was reasonably close on the score line for most of the game.

-Big Week next week for the Abes.  Rivalry game with North on Tuesday and then the Big Rivers Showdown with Hudson on Thursday.  Can Memorial grab a share of first or will Hudson put a strangle hold on the title.

Here is a quick update on the Big Rivers Conference play.

September 17th Games:

Memorial  3  Rice Lake 0

Hudson  8  River Falls  2

Menomonie  3  Chippewa Falls 0

River Falls v Menomonie  Postponed to 9.29

Chippewa Falls v Rice Lake Postponed

North v Hudson  Postponed

September 24th Games:

Rice Lake 2 River Falls 1

North 3  Menomonie 0

Memorial 9  Chippewa Falls 1

Rice Lake 2  North 1

Memorial 5  River Falls 1

Hudson 9  Menomonie 0

Big Rivers Conference Standings

Win -Loss -Tie

Hudson                           7-0-0    21 Points

Memorial                        7-1-0     21 Points

Rice Lake                       6-2-0     18 Points

North                              3-4-1      10 Points

River Falls                      2-5-1       7 Points

Menomonie                   1-7-0      3 Points

Chippewa Falls             0-0-7     0 Points

Quick Take Aways:

-Hudson is in control, but the second Memorial v Hudson game still looms.  Memorial will have a full squad for the rematch….so maybe a different result?

-North had a chance to make a real statement, but Rice Lake won 2-1 in the recent match up to maintain their solid third place position..

-Menomonie had some real momentum last week, but a bit of a disappointment for me to lose both games by a combined 12-0 score.

Games for the Week of OCTOBER 1

Tuesday Games: Memorial v North, Hudson v Rice Lake, River Falls v Chippewa Falls

Thursday Games: Hudson v Memorial, Chippewa Falls v North, Menomonie v Rice Lake

Game of the Week: Hudson v Memorial.

Here we go again.  The last game was decided in the last minutes with a close fought 1-0 win for Hudson.  Can Memorial return the favor.  Will the new line up produce the results needed to take down a very good Hudson team.  This likely decides the Conference Champion for the season.  Big Game!!

 

 

Continue Reading

World Soccer Update: September 26

So, for the soccer fans out there, we have a busy soccer season kicking into high gear.

Premier League Update.  Week 6 recap and Week & preview coming this Friday.

Champions League Update. 

The greatest Soccer Tournament in the world…except for the World Cup….except for the Olympics…but those are only held once every 4 years.  We get Champions League EVERY year. We are just into the Group Stage.  The group stage last 6 rounds of play over the next three months. Match Day 1 was held last week and we have some results to share.  Here is a quick summary as well as the 8 Groups.  In group play, teams play each other twice for a total of 6 games.  Home and Away against each team.  The top two teams from each group advance to the knock out stages.  3 point for a win, 1 point for a tie.

Group A: Athletico Madrid, Dortmund, Monoco, Club Brugge

Group B: Barcelona, Tottenham, Inter Milan, PSV Eindhoven

Group C: Liverpool, Red Star Belgrade, Napoli, PSG

Group D: Galatasaray, Porto, Schalke 04, Lokomotiv Moscow

Group E: Ajax, Bayern, Benfica, AEK

Group F: Hoffenheim, Lyon, Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City

Group G: CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid, Pizen,  Roma

Group H: Manchester United, Juventus, Valencia, Young Boys

Match Day 1 Winners: Athletico Madrid, Dortmund, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Galatasaray, Ajax, Bayern, Lyon, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus

Europa League Update

Kind of like Champions League, but its the next best 48 teams in Europe.  Too many teams to list….will wait for the knock out stages to get you the list.  That’s a lot of teams.  Some of the bigger names you may know.

Chelsea and Arsenal from the Premier League.

Sevilla and Villareal from Spain.

Celtic and Rangers from Scotland.

Premier League Carabao Cup (League Cup)

In addition to playing for a Title, teams in English Football can also play and win the Carabao Cup, historically called the League Cup.  Teams from the 92 teams that make up the English Football Leagues (Premier, Championship, League 1, League 2) are eligible. It is played over 7 rounds on single elimination. The Round of 32 was just completed this week.  Some interesting results.

Giant Killers.

Derby County 2  Manchester United 2 (Derby advances 8-7 in a PK Shootout)  Derby County is in 6th place in the Championship League, the 26th best team in English Football just beat a team in the Premier League To 6.  Big Upset!  16 teams remain with a heavy load of teams from the Premier League.

Burton two levels down (58th best team) took down Premier League team Burnley (16th place) in the round of 32.

Long Shots still in the Final 16: Derby Count (26th), Nottingham Forest (29th), Burton (58th) and Blackpool (52nd)

Game of the Tournament (so far): Chelsea defeated Liverpool today 2-1.  Great game.  And one incredible goal from the current best player in the Premier League…Eden Hazard from Chelsea.  I will just let you enjoy this one.  On my!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading
1 2 3 13