Monthly Archives: March 2009

Momentum

Great scrimmage last night (Tuesday).

Much improved close-quarters passing (those drills are paying-off). Solid communication. Determination was greatly evident. Three goals in five minutes with a shut-out says it all.

Hope to most everyone tomorrow Thursday for practice. But, have a great Spring Break.

Be ready for our two matches with NSA Magic and Revolution Saturday the 11th.

Coach Brian

Decisions

It’s a bit unusual for me to offer more than one post on a given day. And, this particular effort strays a bit from the specific topic of Soccer. Also, I decided to share this on all three of my Blogs: The Unsinkable brian cork, The Human Capital Blog, and here.

This is only just me, after all, me being me.

It’s drizzling today.

I don’t like rain (even though Atlanta desperately needs it) unless I can run in it. Rain makes me melancholy. And, drops in barometric pressure apparently conspire with other elements to give me migraines. Also, drizzling is just so pathetic. I prefer a torrent of rain! Or, just no rain. Why else might be the point of such inclement weather other than to really piss me off because we probably can’t have soccer practice (I don’t care for Bermuda grass – and, don’t get me started there). Soccer was meant to be played under any conditions. Just not in Atlanta – or where Bermuda grass, and poor soil conditions and highly suspect roots, prevail (what an incredible metaphor for shallow things).

Such dizzying ruminations aside, I am feeling surprisingly bouyant in this late morning (even if the word bouyant is creating some consternation with me and spell check).

One of my business coaching clients, Sanders McConnell, has only just left my offices. We are both pretty excited. We had a great break through – call it an epiphany, with regards to his evolving business model. The pieces snapped into place on this overcast morning that suddenly feels so bright and full of promise.

NOTE: The inestimable PJ Bain must be running late himself today for our appointment. Possibly due to the rain. However, the extra time is allowing for this impromptu post – and, it feels great. And, I shall look forward to seeing PJ because he, himself is such a terrific example of truth and light.

I have the coolest job in the world. All I have to do is hang out with my friends all day and help them make better decisions.

God gave the world the Beautiful Game of Soccer. And, He has given me experience, and discernment, and opportunities to use them for good.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Silverbacks return Thursday

Silverbacks Caroline and Tara will be back (weather permitting) for Thursday’s practice.

Coach Brian

Match #2: Bench Strength

Updated version.

Blue skies; a gentle cooling breeze; and, late afternoon brought sister Fusion team Fury to our mighty and fearless Shockers.

From the kickoff it was Shocker ball.

Majority team Captain Mars Twitchell had Girls Leadership Club duties.  So, Stryker Christy Tovar stepped up for a hat-trick (three goals) in the first half including a brilliant corner kick from Erin Nables.

Midfield Captain KC Lowenthal shared Left-side Stryker duties with Sarah Bowers and put a solid shot in the lower left corner of the Fury net just before half-time. Sarah did a terrific job of moving the ball up the left side and passing to her teammates to set up multiple scoring opportunities.

Our legendary Defensive unit of Captain AC Anderson, Haley Anne Cork, Claire Guthrie, Jessica Curtis, Lindsay Wojcik and Emily Dwane played an almost flawless game easing their Keeper Hannah Derezinski into her first clean sheet of the regular season. The only errors were giving away four corner kicks. But, always redeemed themselves with determined clears that often resulted in Shocker fast breaks. Lindsay continues to goof off less and improve each match with tough on-on-one stands against on-coming Forwards. Emily, who has never played soccer before this season, stood her ground (albeit all bug-eyed) against two fast-breaks until teammate and BFF Haley Anne swooped in and blasted that ball back across the midline.

Observations:

Every player contributed for a decisive 4 to 0 victory. As the girls skills and confidence (in themselves as well as one another), we have demonstrated depth across Defense, Midfield and Forwards.

It was fun to note, as the first half progressed, that several of the girls observed:

We are really playing Shocker Ball.

Erin was a force of nature at Center Midfield and set up no less than seven scoring opportunities with precision passes and jaw-dropping aerial bombs with her “big boot”. She also held the Fury at the midline denying one fast break after another.

Mallory Charlton had nine shots on goal. Six of these were essentially one-on-ones where she beat Defenders on fast breaks. Once she takes her physics lessons seriously, and remembers that the ball keeps going at the same speed – even if she slows down when she approached the goal, she will no doubt net more than a few.

Hannah Erger and Sarah are probably two of my smartest players.  Just really bright kids. You can see it in how they position themselves to optimize a situation. They outthink opponents (however, sometimes, Sarah thinks too much, and slows herself down around the goal). Today, Hannah demonstrated tremendous grit making her determined stance against much larger opponents. She was put on the ground a few times but frustrated the Fury along the left side with stubborn defense and skillful close-quarters passing.

Michelle Higgins reminded coach Brian why he wants her on his teams with moments of brilliance on the right side. When Michelle remembers how quick she is, and decides to win the ball, she will be a scoring threat.

Haley Anne has it rather tough being a coaches daughter. I expect a lot of her. And, she puts a lot of pressure on herself. But, I always know that when she is around the ball we can expect it to transition efficiently. I can count on her. She has proven she can score as a Defender. Watching her gain confidence navigating the ball is a benchmark I am proud of as both a coach, and a father.

If KC had kept left more often, she would likely have had two more shots on goal. When she creeps to the right, she crowds Christy, who will always defer. We need to watch that. KC is better coming off an angle of attack, whereas Christy clearly dominates up the “pipe” (middle).

I continue to be impressed with the consistent and expanded play of both Claire and Grace Guthrie. Claire had a tough match two weeks ago. However, she bounced back today and was clearly determined to go after the ball.

At this point, if I tell Grace to:

“go after the ball”

…she will do it.

That is impressive. And, it means a lot to me, Coach Chris, and this team, that she can spark that Midfield at both Center and Right-side.

I made a big mistake today. I had promised Hannah Derezinski that if we had a solid lead going into the fourth quarter, I would put her into the Midfield. she has earned that opportunity in practice. I flat-out forgot. I won’t make that mistake again. She practices hard and is a great sport. Keeper is a tough spot. Its often thankless with most of the pressure.

In closing, we are getting ready for a heavy match schedule in the next few weeks. This includes a challenge from a Select team.

We are Shockers. We take all comers.

We want the ball.

Coach Brian

UPDATE (03-22-2009): I changed the title of this post from “Match #2: a Clean Sheet” to “Match #2: Bench Strength”.

Match #1: Shocker Ball

What is it about “Shocker Ball”?

It feels as though it’s as simple as wanting the ball – and, then force of will.

We saw that vital difference in halfs this afternoon.

The Fusion Lightning were clearly the more aggressive team, and had our Shockers on their heels.

The key correction we made was “hot-swapping” two Midfielders that are naturally aggressive with confident ball-handling skills in traffic.

Also, Captain Mars Twitchell fighting through three Defenders to punch the ball decisively past a rattled Goalie for our second score.

The result was a third quarter where we kept the ball on our opponents goal with no less than six shots at (not necessarily on) goal.

We will take a 2-1 victory  to begin our regular season; and, some clear ideas where we need to focus skills training.

In any event, I got to yell:

“THAT IS SHOCKER BALL LADIES”

…a bunch in the second half.

Coach’s NOTES:

KC Lowenthal shows particular grit and determination on the Left-side Midfield.  She often finds herself having to fight the ball through as many as three determined opponents. She is successful more often than not. This allows a successful transition up the left side that helps Mars center the ball.

Hannah Erger has a knack for fighting balls through crowds as well. She never backs down, and I feel this is a key element to “managing momentum”.

When Christy Tovar is “on” its rare for any opponent to get the ball past our mid-line.

We are accustomed to seeing AC Anderson and Haley Anne Cork come out of no where to shut down an opposing fast-break. However, today we saw Lindsay Wojcik hold the right side at Defense while sustaining some nasty scrapes.

It’s only a matter of time before Mallory Charlton “see’s herslf” as a big-time influence on the Right-side Forward position. She had two great opportunities on the goal. I can see her being a consistent two-goals-per-game Stryker.

Jessica Curtis is not only a huge influence as a Defender; but, she could score from anywhere.  She does not realize it yet. I suspect the same can be said for Erin Nable.

If you ask Grace Guthrie to go after every ball, she will do it with single-minded will and focus. She can be a dominate force once we teach her how not to bunch up and crowd Erin (for example), and move to open-ground for a quick give-and-go pass.

Coach Brian

Training with Silverbacks

Big, heart-felt thanks to Tara Minnix and Carolyn Ford of the Atlanta Silverbacks for working with our Shockers!

Group photo by our inestimable Team Manager (Main Mom) Patty Wojcik.

Fusion Shockers with Tara Minnix and Carolyn Ford

Fusion Shockers with Tara Minnix and Carolyn Ford

Carolyn Ford

Carolyn Ford


tara Minnix

Tara Minnix


Transitions

Last night during scrimmage our Shockers proved their performance in the final match at the Lanier tournament was no fluke.

They came ready for practice and were clearly determined to comport themselves with valor in drills and on the pitch.

Focus combined with grit always tells.

We had several mutely awed parents in attendance that were witnesses.

We put them on the field without a goalie in the net. I asked them, simply enough, to protect the goal.

My only real advice?

“Keep the ball at the other end of the field.”

They did that very thing.

The few times our opponents managed a fast break they broke on “the wall” now formed by a legendary defense.

Our girls added new meaning to “wanting the ball”.  Not one Shocker, I tell you, failed to fight with all their might for every single ball.

These girls are fighters; winners; possessed of great character; and the object of tremendous pride on the part of their coach (whom it should be noted has no voice this morning).

By the way…  Alex Rodriguez at Totally Soccer thinks we will have the rest of our gear by Friday. So, be on standby to meet off Post Road for a quick distribution.

Coach Brian

Thursdays Practice and Tara Minnix

We have Tara Minnix, a standout Defender with the Atlanta Womens Silverbacks joining the Shockers for practice Thursday the 5th.

We will, essentially, have Tara run practice that evening.

Here are some of her player statistics (these don’t include 2008 when the Lady Silverbacks had an undefeated regular season):

tara-minnixW-League: 2007—Became all-time Silverback appearance leader with 38. Featured  11 times tallying two goals. 2006—Appeared 13 times. 2005—Tallied a goal and an assist in 14 appearances.

Professional: 2004—Represented both the Atlanta Beat and Carolina Courage in WUSA festivals. 2003—Atlanta Beat.

College: University of Tennessee (1989-2002)—Led SEC in goals (2002). Netted three goals and added four assists in 2000 before suffering season-ending knee injury. Netted eight goals and added four assists freshman year.

Coach Brian