Thursday, January 21, 2010
MA soccer team improving
By BARRY BURLESON
The Marshall Academy Patriots lost to Lafayette and beat Strayhorn on the soccer field last week.
Coach Lance McGregor said he thought the boys “played their best game of the season” in a 5-2 loss to the Commodores.
“If we could have capitalized on a couple of opportunities or had not given up three easy goals, we had a real shot of winning against a quality squad,” he said.
“There is so much improvement right now and everyone is starting to get the grasp of what’s going on.”
He said Kendall Harris played his best game of the year in goal despite the opponent’s five goals.
“There were two shots he normally would save and nobody wishes they had those two shots back more than Kendall,” McGregor said. “He works really hard and listens to everything anyone has to say.
He also praised the play of other patriots.
“Hank Owens took his game to another level tonight, scoring twice and welcoming his new position,” McGregor said. “I really hated to take him off defense but he is such a weapon and is really turning into our leader.
“I was really proud of Neil Murphy as well. He played his best game thus far. You see the potential there but he still has a lot to unlock. He is really starting to work a lot better with his teammates though and beginning to grasp his position.
“Jake DeLashmit does a great job of bringing the ball up the field and distributing it to his teammates each game and sometimes it is under-appreciated because you just expect it from him. Chase Smith gave us a nice game.
“Duncan Baker was playing in his first game and I was impressed in how much he harassed their forwards and kept them outside. Kasey Shaw and Chad Mitchell played nice games again on defense.
“Really everyone stepped it up and played well. These are just the ones who stand out. But I’m proud of the effort everyone gives and they are not taken for granted.”
Lafayette took a 2-0 halftime lead before DeLashmit found Owens downfield for a shot in the corner of the goal to cut it to 2-1 at the 48 minute mark.
Lafayette scored the next two goals before Owens broke away down the right side and made a beautiful shot to cut it to 4-2 at the 68 minute mark. About five minutes later DeLashmit got behind their defense and had a one-on-one with Lafayette’s goalie but hurried his shot just a bit and pushed it right, McGregor said.
Lafayette scored with about 30 seconds left in the game for the final 5-2 deficit.
The Patriots overcame a sluggish first half and won 3-0.
“The first half was not fun to watch,” McGregor said. “Strayhorn only played eight guys due to suspensions, but we did not play well together and kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We had plenty of opportunities but just couldn’t capitalize. There was very little intensity.
“We sit down and talked at halftime and the first thing I asked them was if they would agree that was the worst we have played all year. Most agreed.
“I told them to settle down, work together, show some confidence, and go back to having fun.”
Strayhorn played with a full squad in the second half and actually had the first scoring opportunity when Marshall called for a foul and the Mustangs were awarded a penalty kick. The kick sailed high and to the left.
“Our guys really starting hustling after that and Strayhorn only got the ball deep into our territory one more time the remainder of the game,” the coach said.
He said DeLashmit and Owens did great jobs of bringing the ball up and getting everyone involved.
“We really controlled the ball and thus controlled the outcome of the game,” McGregor said. “Simply put, we played like the game is supposed to be played and I was extremely pleased with everyone.
“I felt Drew Rappa stepped up on defense and really got in their heads. He was hustling all over the field. I really couldn’t pick a most valuable player this game as everyone contributed and played nearly mistake-free.”
MA struck first in the 47th minute on a goal from Murphy on an assist from Owens. The Patriots’ next goal came eight minutes later when Owens got behind the defense and connected. Three minutes later DeLashmit sent a ball through to Smith and he caught up to it and made a really tough shot.
“That was a fun 11 minutes and I can’t say enough for our fans,” McGregor said. “They really got behind us and got in on the fun. I think this really encouraged the guys; it was just a pleasant sight. We have a super group of followers.
“We had a few more scoring opportunities as the game went on and just missed on those. A major key to the game was the fact we only had one throw-in violation, an area that has plagued us this season.
“The only bad thing about when everyone is playing well is deciding which 11 to have on the field, but it is a nice problem to have.”
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