Category Archives: Tournament

great promise but even better delivery

The U16 JBS Shockers Nation put everyone on notice this past weekend at the 2011 Spring Lanier Cup. The finals was a gritty barn-burner. Our newly formed squad exceeded even my own expectations dropping the final to perennial state champions LSA Jaguars 1-0.

Details with some pictures are pending. And, we have our schedule for the regular season.

Was that passive aggressive mumbling we heard from the far sidelines? I’m delighted that’s not my problem any longer.

We are upon you.

Coach Brian

U14 JBS Shockers are 2010 UFA Cup Champions

The 2010 U14 JBS Shockers continued a season of dominance by winning the 2010 United Futbol Academy Tournament.

The Shockers scored a tournament high thirteen (13) goals with only one (1) against through the finals where they met the vaunted SDY Lady Jaguars and pulled-off magnificent and courageous 2-1 come-from-behind victory to secure the gold Cup.

Coach Brian

U14 Shockers Are 2010 Kohls Cup Champions

JBS U14 Shockers Nation are 2010 Kohl’s Cup Champions

We had a slow start Saturday morning losing to the Hinesville Gators (that apparently were undefeated through the regular season and the tournament with no goals against), but surged in the last fifteen minutes to set the pace for the rest of the tournament. We saw some dramatic action, and we proved that we can play and beat anybody with fantastic play from each and every player. In the finals we got that first match back against the Gators for the tournament Cup.

Thank you, and Shockers all.

NOTE: In last year’s Kohl’s Cup U14 Shockers Christy and Mars guest played for (now) sister team JBS Breakers who beat that same Hinesville Gators team in the finals. It was also that very same Gators squad that hurt (then) U14 Breakers Colette with an injured ACL. So, a JBS U14 team has won consecutive Kohl’s Cups and fought through the Gators to earn that distinction, while exacting a form of satisfaction (we should not use words like revenge or vengeance – oops, I just did!) for Colette along the way.

Finding the will to win

Our hearty and ferocious Shockers found themselves in unfamiliar territory this past Saturday at the RYSA 3v3 tournament.

However, as it turns out that format matches both the way we train and our style of play. We fight for the ball and score on smart passing.

The U14 Shockers learned quickly and adjusted with improved play the entire tournament, and earning their way to the finals where they only lost in sudden death against a veteran squad aptly named the “five fab”. In any event, we’ve qualified for the National Championships in Orlando, Florida.

Congratulations to Haley Anne, Christy, Rachel, Suzane and new Shocker – Kimmy Gibson for a job well done.

Coach Brian

Back to State Cup

Our hearty and ferocious U14 Shockers are heading back to State Cup in Columbus.

We had a great District round with a record of: 2W-0L-1D.

Keeper Paige Mitchell extended our season-long unbeaten streak with her fifth, sixth and seventh shut-outs of the season.

Here is the District Cup summary:

Saturday Shockers 4 vs. Jackson Bulldogs 0

Saturday Shockers 0 vs. SDY Lady Jaguars 0

Sunday Shockers 4 vs. GSA Strikers 0

Sunday Shockers vs. SDY Lady Jaguars for a Shoot-Off for the finals. Fifteen (that’s what I said) shooters later – Jaguars advantage 8 to 7.

We’re heading to Columbus, and everyone is going to know it.

Coach Brian

little things with big impact

The great stories from the Athens Finale tournament are numerous. And, they will be chronicled, as best I am able here, over time – and, elsewhere.

I’ve coached Michelle Higgins since she was eleven. She was on my first Shocker team and created a lot of learning opportunities for me as a coach.

I think Michelle gave me three of her best matches this weekend.

It was the little things. She seemed to hustle more than usual, and was engaged around the ball. She also took two hard ball shots to the head and stuck with it. When I was on the pitch in the last match looking after Lindsay (“I’m okay… GAME ON”), I had an opportunity to take a quick look at Michelle (I wanted to see her eyes after the last shot she took). She had tears, but she gave me a brave nod.

All I could do was give her a kiss on the top of her head, and feel more pride than I could ever convey.

Thanks Michelle.

Coach Brian

Tuesday’s Practice

Shockers Nation:

Last nights practice was one of those times that makes being a coach extra fun and interesting.

It was like a family reunion. The girls had not been together en masse for almost two weeks. And, they were clearly delighted to be together. There was a great deal of laughter, and catching up. The comraderie is easy and comfortable. Generally, there was also a lot of excitement over the trip to Athens, and a sense of purpose.

We won’t be having practice tonight, and obviously because of the cold rain. The hoped for practice tomorrow are diminishing by the hour. Anticipating this, I had urged the girls to give me their best last night. I was admittedly concerned that the U14 squad may have lost a step being out of action for about ten days. And, the U16 squad was coming off their dramatic ASA Cup victory – and, it can be difficult to reorient after an event like that. So, we had only two hours to get thirty-three players mission ready with the new elements getting up-to-speed with our style-of-play. We actually went almost twenty five minutes over schedule. But, they could have gone on for another two hours in good cheer. I deeply appreciate the patience of the faithful Shockers parents who stood bravely in the chilled air (with smiles for the most part I should add).

I realize that, year-over-year, this has become a hallmark of being a Shocker – and, this includes the families. The girls genuinely care for, and about, one another. Grace Gutherie can refer to her new soccer ball as “like Battlestar Gallactica”, and the girls completely understand in a bemused and loving manner. When KC needs to decipher and verbally reprocess one of my observations, the team stands by patiently and often nodding approval. And, of course there are endless questions and opinions, in the post practice huddle, around what represents “dairy” (which is to be consumed in limited portions between now and Sunday). Shockers Nation is something they want, and enjoy being part of. It’s healthy, and they all understand that they are improving as athletes, both in terms of individual performance, and as a team, as well.

We had five of the six new players that will be joining us in Athens (across both squads), three of who will be joining us full-time in the Spring. I started out the practice with a warning that I yell a lot, but usually with a smile on my face. This elicited a lot of enthusiasm. And, in typical Shockers fashion, the new girls dialed right in. We could tell everyone was comfortable within the first twenty minutes (even though most teams are not accustomed to the running and drill work we start each practice with). The “Aggression Drill” can be intimidating. But, I can tell you that is where the girls sort out what they are made of, and where they improve quickest. They have no choice because everyone is watching – and, being supportive.

Last night was also quite unique in that we had four Dads with players on the Athens squads who all happen to be coaches in our league. I’ll stand firm in the belief that they (we) had as much fun as the girls. And, we clearly agree there’s not been a finer group (in terms of athleticism, spirit and citizenship) in conceivable memory.

As we wrapped up with the announcement we hope to have a team dinner and meeting Friday night the girls were fully charged. As we drew together, the new girls shoulder-to-shoulder with their new teammates, our cheers of: “Who Are we?” (Shockers!!!) “What Do We Want?” (The Ball!!!) And, “One-Two-Three, WE ARE SHOCKERS” echoed joyfully and fiercely across Central Park.

Athens isn’t going to be easy. The competition will be fierce. The weather will change a few times over the weekend. But, we are trained, fit and ready. And, truly so.

Please coordinate with Patty to make sure we know how each player is getting to Athens (does anyone need a ride?), where they will or want to stay. Bunking overnight Friday is probably a very good idea (and, cellular telephones will be handed over to Patty). Make sure we have your cellular number.

I’ll thank each family, again for trusting me with your daughters. And, it’s really me that’s the most inspired.

Coach Brian

2009 ASA Cup Summary: Proving our fortitude and demonstrating our nerve

Much of this story, of course, began last Fall.

Christy, Haley Anne, and Hannah E. were coming off an undefeated U12 season at ASA. Christy and Haley Anne were invited to play-up for the struggling U14 Blast in the ASA Cup. This gave Christy and Haley Anne an opportunity to rejoin Shockers alum AC with whom they had won the U12 Extreme Cup the prior Spring. Coach Chris and I Observed that patch-work team play together (three draws), and got to know some of the parents. And, we saw great promise.

Drama (and, that is certainly an understatement) was afoot as Chris and I decided to break from ASA, and pull the core of our U12 team up early into U14. We merged with that Blast squad, regrouped with Mars and Hannah D., and built a team around a focused goal of going to the Spring State Cup.

That U14 team exceeded all expectations, and the story is chronicled on this team blogsite at.

I feel the stage was set, in epic fashion, as we returned to ASA this past weekend for the ASA Cup.

With a pair of key defenders injured (Claire and Loren) and others expected to be on holiday, we knew our U16 Shockers were going to be low on reserves. I had not really thought about it (and, truthfully so) until we arrived at The Polo Grounds (with my heart, admittedly, in my throat), but Christy and Haley Anne (with their hearty and ferocious U14 teammate Rachel) were once again joining an older squad to lend support. The vital difference this year was a more than reasonable expectation that we could win a Cup (and, coach Brian might realize a promise he made to the Claire and Grace the prior year).

Match One Saturday U16 Shockers vs. ASA Xplosion

In the very first match Saturday, under perfect condition to include cobalt blue skies, we faced ASA Xplosion. This is a hand-picked team of select players, many of whom have played together for over four years, dropped into the Rec divisions with the specific mission to win a State Cup in the coming Spring. The team is trained more often than not by Jeff Salas, one of the ASA directors who has a daughter on the squad. They were undefeated through the Fall season. We are told they averaged six goals per match against all opponents, and often won by shut-out, with only four goals scored against them in the regular season.

That was precisely the test I wanted, as we are really only now peaking, coming into our own, and preparing for Athens.

The Xplosion defense lived up to their training. Our vaunted Shockers attack had much fewer shots on goal than usual. But, we pressed hard, passed well, with very good communication, and saw the ball often on their end of the pitch. At roughly the 20th minute in the first half, Christy found herself facing a rebounded ball, spinning off a cross from Shelby, and placed it neatly into the back of the Xplosion net. I can look back on that match now and understand that we should have then changed our lineup to keep Xplosion on their heels. However, our intensity never let up. Both sides fought hard and passed well. We’ll offer no excuses. But, our defense that day was just getting accustomed to the lineup and the addition of Haley Anne. We had some miscommunication, and the very experienced Xplosion were able to convert on two goals. The final score was 2 to 1 in favor of Xplosion, but our Shockers were clearly under their skin.

And, we had a terrific opportunity on our hands (if not our boots).

I took the position that we had a dramatic opportunity to demonstrate only great character, come off this tough loss, and fight our way into the finals to face the Xplosion for a rematch.

Match Two Saturday U16 Shockers vs. AFU Cheetahs

That thinking and objective took us to our second match of the day and against league rivals AFU Cheetahs. And, of course, there would be a brilliant twist!

We had already beaten Cheetahs 3 to 2 earlier in the season; and, ironically, in the driving rain. Our 2nd regular season match had been rained out and needed to be rescheduled. We needed the points to overtake Cheetahs sister team Angels for the league championship. I had suggested to the Cheetah coach that we use the tournament match to decide the league tally. So, our second match of the tournament had both a Cup and a League championship on the line (I did not mention this to our Shockers even though several parents knew).

Cheetahs had just beaten the ASA Rockets 1 to 0 earlier in the day, and were well positioned to advance. All they had to do was get past us for the finals. To put matters into perspective, Cheetahs had played in the finals at Kohls Cup the prior weekend.

I’ll submit to you, and right now, that every Shocker on the pitch brought both their heart and their best boots to that match. The Cheetahs midfield and defense are stubborn and skilled. The ball failed to bounce in any one teams favor. Both sides broke the others fast breaks and used the sidelines like professionals found at the World Cup level. Lauren came up with several key saves (including a heart-stopping melee right in front of our net). Our defense were pulling themselves together under the leadership of Megan while Lindsay was playing as though possessed. Haley Anne was getting used to the speed-of-play at the U16 level and offered up several timely transition kicks. Although I think it might have been Grace that frustrated the Cheetahs Forwards the most, I’ll pick Kelsie’s Stopper play as the most dominating. As we transitioned the ball, Michelle demonstrated some very savvy passing. However, it was the gritty play of U14 reserve Rachel and always reliable KC that kept the ball moving in the right direction. Those two combined with the exceptional fighting and dribbling skills of Grayce and Shelby literally carried the day. In the first half Shelby found a brilliant cross from the right and laid the ball cleanly past the Cheetah Keeper. And, it was KC’s opportunistic BIG SHOT and score (because she FINALLY played up to the box) from thirty meters out that kept the momentum in our favor. It should be noted that the last five minutes of that match were likely the longest of my coaching (or playing). That score was 2 to 1 in favor of Shockers giving us the advantage over Cheetahs in the standings and one match away from the finals. It also put us five points over AFU Angels for the league championship – meaning that both our Shockers teams ended the regular season as respective league champions with a combined record of 17-1-2 (more about that later in a separate post).

Afterwards, walking off the pitch with Grace Guthrie, I had the opportunity to look her in the eye, and remind her that she always seems to step up and bring her best play when we need her most.

Match Three Sunday U16 Shockers vs. ASA Rockets

Sunday morning broke both cold and wet. And, our Shockers appeared to hardly notice. They showed up at ASA’s Polo Grounds all grins, and knowing what they had to do with the tournament “satisfied” as opposed to “pleased”.

The Rockets coach approached me shortly before kick-off with a chuckle. He ruefully advised me that we had clearly rattled their sister team Xplosion. The players had been texting and Facebooking beseeching Rockets to take “those Shockers” out of the final. “We knew you guys were good but wow. No one is happy here”.

The Rockets had already fallen to Xplosion 5 to 0 and Cheetahs 1 to 0. So, they had an opportunity to play the spoliers and support a Club sister team. And, many of those Rockets are good fighters. However, with Xplosion and Cheetah players haplessly watching more of our match from their sidelines than their own our Shockers may have played one of the most balanced and aggressive efforts I’ve ever seem them muster. We certainly played our typical “Shocker Ball” keeping the play on the Rockets side of the pitch over 85% of the match. Our passing was text book, the confidence supreme. Our scoring onslaught started in the first minute with Grayce’s sliding out of the back, but not before cutting the angle and hammering a jaw-dropping shot across the box into the far corner of the Rocket net. The Rocket coach summed it up nicely with “wow”. And, we could hear Salas behind us (coaching the Xplosion) adding a: “you have to watch her”! Shelby’s selfless passing was relentless. By the end of the match, we had scored eight goals (although the refs had it tallied officially at nine). Grayce had a hat-trick, and over the course of the match saw Michelle, Shelby, KC and Christy add to the scoring tally. The final official score was 9 to 1 and the U16 Shockers were in the finals and ready to face Xplosion for the Cup.

This promised to be a barn-burner. Yes it did!

Tournament Finals Sunday U16 Shockers vs. ASA Xplosion

I was, admittedly, in high spirits as I approached the Polo Grounds fields just after 2:10. Then I got the news… To keep this part of the story short, the “tournament director” had made the arbitrary decision to end all finals with penalty kicks as opposed to a complete match. Oddly, even though Patty and I were registered in the system, neither of us received the text messages announcing this decision.

In any event, one of my first thoughts was actually recalling that Grayce’s Dad, Regan, had reminded me two weeks earlier that Grayce was a very talented Goal Keeper. I made up my mind even before I called Coach Chris and Patty with the news. I knew that Xplosion and their coaches had watched our usual (and very successful) Keeper Lauren in action, and knew their penalty kick trained shooters had good odds. But, they had no idea about Grayce. And, I wanted Lauren focused as one of my shooters. I knew she would come through for us if we had her placed in the lineup properly. I started making calls to Shocker parents and making fast decisions. I knew who my shooters were. But, I also understood, in my heart and gut, who would get the job done under heart-pounding, adrenaline-drenched pressure. I walked up to Grayce with the news. In typical fashion, her first concern was for her teammate Lauren. I explained the strategy of surprise, and our need to for Lauren to focus on shooting, and Grayce decided that it would be fun! Coach Bill herded the team over to a far goal and started getting them warmed up. Within minutes Grayce was limbered up and all grins while inspiring mounting confidence from her VERY nervous, but determined, teammates.

As I pulled the team together I explained the shoot-out rules, sequence, and what to expect. I told them I felt they had earned this opportunity, and it was a day they would long remember – and, likely used as a comparison for many significant events in their lives. It was less about skill, and more so luck. Often a crap-shoot. Breathe, don’t make eye contact with the Keeper. No big run ups. Shoot for a corner. As Chris watched them intently near the net looking for a an opportunity for a quick correction, I took a moment to look at them as they chattered nervously amongst themselves. I’m not sure why, but I was surprised to see confidence, in me, in their eyes. This was not about me, mind you. But, they were listening to what I was saying. And, they understood – especially the part about not making eye contact with the Keeper. And, so I knew. We had a Cup waiting for us. We only needed to finish well.

Our players, parents, families and supporters, Shockers Nation all, were standing closely together when the ref called for coaches and captains. Upon the invitation form the head ref, we called numbers and it was decided that we would take the first shot. Little did the opposing goalie realize but this is what I wanted. I knew clear-eyed Shelby would stride purposefully up to that ball, toe it, step back – and, nail it home.

And, she did that very thing.

Our lead shooters were Shelby, Christy, Lauren, Kelsie and Grayce. Megan, Michelle and KC would follow. I stood slightly away from the group watching how the other Keeper positioned herself and how the Xplosion shooters approached the ball in terms of confidence and form. I tied my decision about which shooter to use and in which sequence, shooter-by-shooter, to what I saw happening as the drama played itself out. I felt I knew who might miss but also who would then compensate. We hit six out of eight and that is very good. It might be Megan’s shot I’ll remember the most vividly. Shoulders squared, I imagined that grim smile played across her face. Grayce also came up with two big saves. And, that is HUGE. The entire time she was in the net she had a smile on hr face. I kept looking at her thinking she was having the time of her life. I was also thinking about her Dad, all the Dad’s (and, of course Mom’s), in fact, and what a terrific organization we have. I felt grounded to the pitch as the ref turned to me, pointed, and sounded his whistle.

You can also read the summary online at: CummingHome.com.

That’s a tough way to win a tournament. But, we earned the right to prove our fortitude, and demonstrate our nerve.

I held back wanting to savor the moment and watch the team rush Grayce, memorizing each and every (albeit dazed) smile in those faces.

I found Haley Anne first. And, then each of my Shockers. It was our day. It was a cold one to be sure. But, it was also brilliant, none the less.

A note from Mary Guthrie:

“…Sunday’s game was equally thrilling. It seemed like it went on forever. Finally, I asked the line judge how much time was left. He chuckled and said, “A long time. 15 minutes.” He then asked if we would be in the finals. I told him we hoped to be and explained we lost the first game on Saturday to the green team. “Wow. I can’t believe anyone could beat your team.”  A few minutes later he continued, “I mean, this ASA team really isn’t that bad. They can play soccer. But, your team is just blowing them away.”  A few minutes later, he said again, “This team is really good, every one of them. They are all really good.”   I saw him again after the penalty kick championship. He congratulated me. (When I recounted the line judge story at home, Grace and Claire found this very funny. (“You didn’t even play, mom. Why did he congratulate you?”) As the Shockers were having their picture taken in the net, he turned to the official he was standing with and described the morning game. “You wouldn’t believe how good this team is…”.

[]

We’ve come so far. But, I feel like we are only, and really, just coming into our own. We have Athens in two weeks. And, if we can keep these teams together. And, I pray we do, we go to the State Cup in the Spring. And, I wonder if that’s it for me.

For any player that still wants a tournament t-shirt, we have the distributor on standby for the order. Please let me and Patty know ASAP.

I hope to see as many Shockers at practice as possible Wednesday. We have a lot of work to do as we march, Shockers Nation all, on Athens.

Coach Brian

U16 Shockers Win 2009 ASA Cup

Our 16 Shockers are the 2009 ASA Cup Champions.

Coach Brian

2009 Fall Kohls Cup

Shockers Nation:

I’ll consider this past weekends Kohls Cup tournament naught less than a worthy success. The U16 Shockers pulled through, demonstrating a lot of character, while up against some very mature and tough teams. We had our own destiny in our collective hands each and every match.  And, we were an odd ball bounce away, in two matches, from realizing an appearance in the finals. I think we have a very good idea of what to work on this week during practice.

My favorite memory will be Mallory actually out-sprinting a defender for the ball, pulling ahead and blasting a decisive shot past the Keeper in the second match on Saturday. That can only be equaled by the Shockers pulling it together in the final minutes of the third match and scoring for the equalizer. I believe it was an assist from Michelle to Shelby, but that was a team goal, and tears well up in my eyes each time I think about it (that’s with pride, by the way).

We had AC and Rachel guest playing up from the U14 Shockers. They were vital contributors, and a testament to how well our style-of-play allows for “snap-in” substitutions.

Below I’ll share with you all a note from Mary Guthrie that clearly underscore the spirit from the tournament…

“Brian,

As we cheered on the sidelines Sunday morning, a parent from the other team came over to talk to a few of us. “Those girls are scary.” he said. At that moment, Grayce and Rachel were running down the sidelines in front of us. Grayce having taken a precision pass from Megan and expertly passing off to Rachel- befuddling our opponents with skill and relentless determination.

I looked down the row of Shocker parents and family members (each player represented, I believe) all standing and cheering, and we were all so proud of the team. It was incredible to watch. And then  Michelle fed a perfect ball to Shelby, and she drilled in the tying goal. The stands went crazy.

I agree, I consider the tournament a success.

I cannot wait to see them play again.

Thank you Brian.

Mary”

As many of you know Christy and Mars were invited to play for the U14 Peachtree Booster Breakers. And, Caroline responded to a last-minute call from a desperate Fusion Lightning team that were facing a tournament appearance with no subs. Fusion Coach Mark Kempter was very clear that Caroline played a big role in keeping them in all three matches with dignity.

I believe Christy led the Booster Breakers in scoring (in fact, she might have lead the tournament). In a tough, bruising finals (that had two Booster Breakers carried off the pitch) against Henry County Jaguars, it was Mars’ goal that put Booster Breakers into over time play, and then penalty kicks. And, then, with the score at 3 all, it was Christy that won the match with a (toe-driven) side-winder past the Henry County Keeper. By all accounts, Coach Chris, supporting the Booster Breakers coach on the side-lines, had a firm hand in influencing the Booster Breaker style-of-play.

Thusly, Shockers were well represented at that tournament.

Coach Brian

Fall 2009 Season

Time to start thinking about getting fit ladies.

We are looking for a tournament in August.

Who wants the ball?

Coach Brian

Savannah

Today Shocker Nation descends on Savannah for the Shamrock Celtic Cup.

We appear to have a very good draw for our match schedule.

We need to rally to our Keeper more than ever.

Let’s show everyone we Want The Ball!

Coach Brian

Shocker Nation Notes

Shocker Nation:

Please consider showing the video below to your daughters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6MhAwQ64c0

I know the people at GrassHopper. They tell me that much of the video was inspired by many elements of my own background. I honestly think the future of this nation will be in the hands of entrepreneurs. This is how I want my own Haley Anne to see the world. And, perhaps more importantly, relative to these “Shocker days”, it maintains our theme of establishing goals with the notion we can achieve any thing we are willing to strive for.

Meanwhile…

We have matches Tuesday against Dawsonville and Thursday against John Creek. We are doing this to maintain both an edge and “game fitness”. However, Johns Creek is going to be VERY tough.  We are also going to try to add a dimension to our game that includes kick-backs. We will need this ability at State Cup to open up the field for fast-breaks. Jessica and AC, in particular, will play a vital role in partnering with our Midfielders to make this work.

I suspect this season has taxed our families. However, I’ll not apologize because I would submit to you that these days will set the stage and prove pivotal in our Shockers development as citizens.

Patty and Andy Wojcik have secured rooms for State Cup this weekend in Columbus, Georgia. We need to be VERY methodical and make sure we coordinate getting players over to Columbus, and ready. I believe getting to Columbus is approximately a three hour drive. Lets try to be there Friday night so we can have a meeting and team dinner. If you can’t get there until Saturday morning please let me and Patty know ASAP.

Food for thought…

I focused less on highlights, and more on the experience of the District Cup on our team Blogsite. You can see that summary at: https://shockers.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/2009-district-cup/

The District Cup was a fantastic experience that now makes our Shockers seasoned.

I am sure everyone understands what a remarkable feat it was for those kids to fight their way into that Finals match. It required integrity, luck, grit (we were down in two matches, and had to fight back both times), and not losing (in our second match with Hotshots) – which is a unique element to soccer internationally. We saw some of our best passing. Hannah D also learned the hard way why coming out of the goal FAST is crucial.

I am reasonably certain our Shockers were emotionally spent by the Cup Final.

We saw this two years ago, when another young (and newly formed) Shocker team had to fight their way through rival (and more mature) ASA Crush to make the finals of the Fall Lanier Cup. We finished runner up to Dacula mostly because we were simply drained emotionally. That following Spring we balanced ourselves, and won the prestigious Extreme Cup in the Spring. So, we have a history of forming Cup quality teams and getting to the Finals.

In any event, it can be argued that our shockers played one of their better matches in the Final. But, I feel they played one of their best matches ever Sunday morning. Getting into a finals takes a tremendous toll emotionally as well as physically. So, we need to think through how we rest and feed the team this coming weekend (and, possibly more importantly, in Savannah where I think we can take a Cup).

Bottom-line: We must always prepare to wage an entire campaign, as opposed to a series of skirmishes.

Stick with me Shockers. We have our best days ahead off us.

Please be at Central Park Field #3 for tomorrow’s match against Dawsonville no later than 6:45pm.

Coach Brian

2009 District Cup

My mind whirls with thoughts and emotions around this past weekend and the 2009 District Cup.

Bottom Row: Jessica Curtis, Lindsay Wojcik, Christy Tovar, Mallory Charlton, Sarah Bowers, Hannah Erger, AC Anderson,KCLowenthal Back Row: Coach Brian Patrick Cork, Grace Guthrie, Claire Guthrie, Mars Twitchell, Michelle Higgins, Haley Anne Cork, Emily Dwane, Hannah Derezinski, Coach Chris Tovar

Bottom Row: Jessica Curtis, Lindsay Wojcik, Christy Tovar, Mallory Charlton, Sarah Bowers, Hannah Erger, AC Anderson,KCLowenthal Back Row: Coach Brian Patrick Cork, Grace Guthrie, Claire Guthrie, Mars Twitchell, Michelle Higgins, Haley Anne Cork, Emily Dwane, Hannah Derezinski, Coach Chris Tovar

I’ll not detail each match because they have combined to make for a powerful and dramatic total experience for our Shockers.

Every moment was, in itself, a highlight.

I believe we emerged with vital lessons learned about establishing goals and working hard to achieve them. Playing with the highest levels of integrity, and digging deep into tired bodies for that final surge of strength needed to hold their heads high.

We did, however, literally, begin on the right foot…

We had an opportunity to force GSA Sparks into a forfeit for our first match of the tournament Saturday. We would simply have none of that. This gave us an opportunity to tell our Shockers this was a clear indication of the faith we have in them. We earn our victories. The Shockers responded with a decisive 4 to 0 victory that quickly separated them from many of the finest teams to represent the region.

Ultimately, those four goals earned us vital tie-breaker points that made the difference, and gave us a a shot at AFCU Bengals for the District Cup Finals.

We played with the highest levels of integrity, and we earned medals as a glittering reminder of what happens when we Control, Charge and Protect.

An enduring image of the District Cup will be our Keeper, Hannah Derezinski, crumpled in a painful heap, having gone to the ground for a ball defending her goal.

Another was the look on the faces of Shocker Nation as they burst into cheers, en masse, with the news that our Shockers (Mighty Tigers all) had fought their way into the District Cup Finals – earning a trip to the Georgia State Cup Championships next week in Columbus, Georgia.

Certainly, there was drama; stories of sizzling shots, courage in the middle, brilliant passes, cries of rage and defiance. There was also sweat – and, oh yes, blood. Tears abounded. We had moments where we hung our heads – but, some how prevailed.

As I wrap up this post, I am thinking of Claire Guthrie. We made a deal; and, she kept her end of the bargain. She also reminded me that I had promised Grace I would take them to State if they would trust me.

I told her that I always keep my word.

I am not sure what I read in her eyes at that moment. But, maybe one day I might find that sort of covenant made a difference in her life. In my heart, winning matches and cups aside, I know that is what coaching, and being a Dad, is all about.

Coach Brian

Match #9: Lessons Learned

I can begin this post regarding yesterday’s match against NSA Magic with some highlights…

Our defensive unit was solid. AC Anderson had a brilliant fast break the entire length of the pitch – and, darn near scored. Ironically our Strykers were off-sides and diffused the play. But, that was a ‘shocking’ reminder of AC’s blistering speed, and something we need to capitalize on more often. Haley Anne Cork probably saved three goals with two headers and a desperate dash across the box to block a strong shot from a magic Forward. In the second half, Christy Tovar put on one brilliant display of footwork after another, battling her way up the pipe. Sarah Bowers dug deep and gave it her best playing the awkward left-side Stryker position, almost managing a shot that missed the net by an inch at best. Jessica Curtis was simply everywhere. Even though that might actually be a problem, we could not question her fierce desire and will.

But…

We have the highest scoring offense in the league. We put far more shots on goal during the first half – yet we put no balls in the net.

In fact, the only score in the entire grueling defensive struggle was offered up by our Keeper when she fumbled the ball right into her own goal. A lack of concentration and fundamentals aside, that goal did not lose the match, and a shot at the league title, for us…

We lost our match to Magic yesterday because we left more than blood and sweat on that Pickneyville Filed #4; we punted our Esprit de Corps.

Shockers 0 and NSA Magic 1.

I can take losing any day as long as everyone walks off the pitch with heads high, and feeling we all did our collective best. However, I was decidedly dejected after yesterday because I felt I let our team down. I am not wired to shrug these things off as simple games. I feel every practice and every match is a vital test of character, desire and a lesson waiting to be learned.

It’s not every day a coach must admit he lost a match for his team.

This current Shocker squad shares something special with teams of the past (and, I pray the future). We can and do win as a team – and a team that genuinely cares about one another and believes in one another. We do have some very good athletes. However, it will ALWAYS be heart that puts a team either over the top, or, drops them to the bottom.

Our own goal took the wind right out of us. We soldiered on, but with heads down.

We had a meltdown at half time where a player (actually two players) essentially refused to play a position. This created consternation in the ranks and ignited bickering that carried right over to the pitch. We went into the match Sunday with a clear game plan with contingencies that went out the window. My gut tells me had we stuck with the plan that simply involved “hot-swapping” three key offensive players, we likely would have had more activity up top.

I may have been flustered myself because I expect the girls to trust me, and to do what ever I ask. The typical result is our own kind of magic. I realize this is my ego – possibly misplaced self-esteem.

I must submit to everyone that my heart was broken by what happened both on the pitch and amongst our players.

So, perhaps mine has to be the greatest, if not most important lesson (I just need to understand what it is).

Mind you… If the ball bounces the right way against Storm; and, if Lightning beats Magic next week, the league standing make another dramatic shift.

But, suddenly that matters less. As I work my way through this post, my resolve to return to basics is working in the back of my head. We are going to invoke some significant changes in our line-up for tomorrow nights match against Fusion Storm. I understand this is going to make for a handful of ‘sad little kittens’. This team has two, and possibly three tournaments yet to play this season. We formed ourselves this year with the strategic purpose of being a tournament squad. We have a winning regular season under our collective belts no matter what happens tomorrow night. More importantly, beginning this weekend at District Cup we have a chance to turn ourselves around.

In speaking with Bob Twitchell today it occurred to me that we are now the underdogs going into the District Cup. We will find ourselves with a tough seed and surrounded by other teams that will view us as weaker. This is our best opportunity to dig in and remember that we are Shockers.

In my heart I feel that losing yesterday’s match might end up being a good thing. We probably can’t be that ‘Cinderella’ team that goes from worst to first, and wins that storybook league title. However, we can be that team that makes the critical decision to reunite ourselves around a renewed sense of purpose. A raison d’etre (if I misspelled that, feel free to correct me) if you will.

I ask our shocker parents to pull their player aside and ask the simple question:

“Can they play for their teammates – and not themselves.”

Tuesday (or Thursday depending on weather) night I am going to ask them to look at the player to their right and left and commit themselves to that person – and, to me.

Every practice and every match this month of May must be ever greater evidence that we Want The Ball, and we are a team.

So… The regular season ends tomorrow night – and, our best challenge as a team begins Thursday and Saturday morning when we take it to the State of Georgia where we hope to realize our team goal of reaching State Cup.

Coach Brian

Underdogs

So…

If Facebook exchanges, texting and parent telephone calls are an indication, our Shockers have realized their own pain, and are quickly rallying themselves.

Can this signal and set the stage for their best days of the season – and, perhaps their finest hours as citizens?

We have a winning season behind us. No one can take that from a team that learned how to be winners and are learning how to grow through adversity. The looming District Cup represents nothing less than a splendid opportunity to make themselves proud and take on the entire state of Georgia as underdogs.

The New Yorker is always sort of hit and miss, for me, and the less said about some of their content the better, but every once in a while an article comes along that reminds me why I bother to read the thing in the first place.

Malcolm Gladwell’s recent piece on the phenomenon of underdogs beating superior foes is an engrossing and varied look at a subject that should be dear to anyone’s heart. His analysis is astute and inspiring, but also a tad provocative: underdogs frequently win, he says, and would win more, too, if only they knew how likely their victory actually was:

“David’s victory over Goliath, in the Biblical account, is held to be an anomaly. It was not. Davids win all the time. The political scientist Ivan Arreguín-Toft recently looked at every war fought in the past two hundred years between strong and weak combatants. The Goliaths, he found, won in 71.5 per cent of the cases. That is a remarkable fact. Arreguín-Toft was analyzing conflicts in which one side was at least ten times as powerful—in terms of armed might and population—as its opponent, and even in those lopsided contests the underdog won almost a third of the time.”

In the Biblical story of David and Goliath, David initially put on a coat of mail and a brass helmet and girded himself with a sword: he prepared to wage a conventional battle of swords against Goliath. But then he stopped. “I cannot walk in these, for I am unused to it,” he said (in Robert Alter’s translation), and picked up those five smooth stones. What happened, Arreguín-Toft wondered, when the underdogs likewise acknowledged their weakness and chose an unconventional strategy? He went back and re-analyzed his data. In those cases, David’s winning percentage went from 28.5 to 63.6. When underdogs choose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win, Arreguín-Toft concluded, “even when everything we think we know about power says they shouldn’t.

[…]

Drawing on subjects as various as T.E. Lawrence and a pre-teen girls’ basketball team, he offers up several illustrations of the general principle of efforttrumping ability so long as that effort is being expended furiously and immediately. The example of the full-court press is frequently returned to, and he makes a number of good points about the importance of turning the tables on one’s more powerful opponent at once and forever rather than waiting for him to make the first move and establish the ground rules of the conflict. This naturally bears upon questions of insurgency (which he touches upon), but even if he were only writing about the girls and their ruthless program of basketball supremacy it would be worth reading.

I am not familiar with Mr. Gladwell’s work elsewhere (though he seems quite popular, judging by what I’ve seen in the stores), but this, at least, is certainly worth your time. We should exercise caution in taking these ideas as a solid ethical metric, for to do so would be to flirt with consequentialism, but there is much here that is of value for those engrossed in the dynamics of human competition.

Coach Brian

Shocker Nation

Shocker Families:

Our 2009 Spring campaign is drawing to a close with our final matches of the regular season this coming weekend.

Saturday we play a surging Fusion Fury, and then Sunday we play, what may be our most pivotal match of the season, against NSA Magic at Pickneyville Field. Count on that being a tough match, and we need all-hands-on-deck, and very much ready to play Shocker Ball.

Next Tuesday around 7:30pm (this time is “negotiable” at the moment), we have a “friendly” match with Dawsonville. During this match we will be trying some new things in preparation for our May tournament schedule.

We still need to reschedule our rained-out match against Storm. But, they do not appear eager to face us again. So, that match is uncertain.

Tournaments

I had a parent that was apparently surprised to learn that we had a tournament over Memorial Day weekend (May 23rd and 24th). Veteran Shocker families know this is a tradition. We actually have three tournament options that weekend, but obviously will only choose one. We will likely go with the Celtic Cup in Savannah because we think it’s the most competitive, and the girls have specifically requested an overnight tournament as a reward for a terrific season.  In any event, all of this has been on the Shockers Blogsite (www.shockers.wordpress.com) since the first week of the season. Our stated objective for this season has been to qualify for State Cup. We made the District Cup, but need to keep winning to earn a good seed. If we can finish well at District Cup, we achieve that primary goal (other than being good citizens and team players) of State Cup.

Nevertheless, no family should feel compelled to sacrifice family or other interests for a soccer tournament. I know we can field a team, and the girls will have a wonderful experience to cap-off a fantastic first season together. But, if the Memorial Day weekend is a burden, please let me know so we can adjust the roster.

If I have not made it clear, I am deeply grateful to you for trusting me with your daughters. I am so very proud of all of them, and pray that this has been a terrific experience for each and everyone of them (and the families).

Coach Brian

2009 Lanier Cup Tournament Notes

We are certainly the Shockers.  But, this weekend, I would submit to you we are legion.

It was my view, and hopes, that we would accomplish three primary objectives this weekend at the Lanier Cup:

1.  Bond and come together as a team;

2.  Clarify strengths and weaknesses while identifying critical areas to focus our training; and,

3.  Have a terrific experience and loads of fun.

All three objectives exceeded even my own (oft optimistic) expectations.

Aside from Haley Anne’s /1 Goal (I will always be a Dad first), perhaps my favorite and immediate memory from the weekend will be of the girls gathered around the table at O’Charley’s (thanks for the excellent scouting Jim Erger [Hanna E.’s” dad]) completely relaxed; enjoying themselves with the confident knowledge they are a team that performed admirably (without exception), and will only get better each week (probably despite their coach).

Match One:  Fusion shockers vs. ASA Rockets

It was likely only me.  But, I felt the first match of the tournament with the ASA Rockets was important due to our history with ASA. Our Shockers pulled together as a new and developing squad and held their own against a more mature and established team. Rocket Coach Bob handled his team well. Our girls were, for the most part, unflinching albeit tentative (I feel this is a fair word) in the first half. Our Defense (a historical constant) was sorely tested, but never broke. Our Midfield was disorganized.  But, athleticism and desire prevailed. Oddly we had no less than seven scoring opportunities.  In each case, we always found ourselves out of position left to right, and failed to converge on the goal (“We Charge The Goal”).

But, we had created scoring opportunities. This would mark the single most critical transition form the ASA Blast legacy to the Fusion shockers future.

We made adjustments.

The second half we took the ball to their Keeper more often.  The Midfield had already begun to gel.  We kept the ball 70% on the other half of the field (that is Shocker Ball). The Defense adjusted and supported the Midfield.  Our Keeper, Hannah Derezinski managed a Clean sheet.

Although no single player stood out (other than Captain Mars Twitchell setting up some scoring opportunities) Chris Tovar and I saw verification of the potential that always seems to follow the Shockers each generation.

NOTE: Mallory Charlton began to petition for a shot at right-side Stryker.

Match Two: Fusion Shockers vs. Jackson County Wildcats

The Wildcats were nothing if not an unruly bunch.

My own primary take-away from that match was observing that our players are resilient and not nearly as “fragile” as a prior coach had warned me. The Wildcats were physical. However, the Shockers stayed on their feet, and always played with integrity. We are citizens first.

Our Midfield was having to sort out continued changes in the line-up as we tried different combinations based on skills, speed – or, both. But, again, athleticism and character showed itself – and, this began to give Chris Tovar and I some ideas. The first half rarely saw the ball make it to the Wildcat side of the field – and, certainly the Keeper. But, the key had to be transition play perhaps starting with the Defense.

Sarah Bowers, as distracted as she appeared during that match, was demonstrating field vision presence (amazing for her age) often catching open Wildcats and covering them at critical moments. KC Lownthal had flashes of brilliance with key ball control on the line.  Hannah Erger proved an invaluable sub showing grit (and emerging confidence) navigating the ball through multiple opponents with two key transitions to her Strykers. AC Anderson and Haley Anne Cork ran down and cut-off wave after gut-wrenching wave of Wildcat attacks. And, it was Claire Guthrie that held the right side (with several inspired transition of her own). Mallory Charlton showed some brilliance and toughness at Midfield with some deft ball handling. And, Jessica Curtis seemed to appear, as if my magic, more often than not where ever she was needed (often deep in the Defense), stuffing attackers and blasting the ball. And, this was pivotal because it set the stage for a crucial change in the line-up, scheme and strategy.

In the end, the difference in this match was two freak goals against us. However, that is soccer. Balls bounce funny. It’s referred to around the globe as “The Beautiful Game” because it is so unpredictable.

Saturday night Chris Tovar and I (and, Joanne) found ourselves coming to very similar conclusions regarding how the “puzzle pieces” could fit (personality, skills, etc). We had questions, and the answers were coming into focus.

What about Lindsay Wojcik, who can stop a truck, and take the ball from anyone if she can tangle with them (but, one-on-one she needs backup if the ball handler is coming on the fly)?  She is left-side strong and best in the corner. So, you make sure she understands how to work with her teammates; attack the ball; and, always have backup.

How do you use Grace Guthrie’s speed and heart when she hates Defense? NOTE: The answer is stick her in the middle as an “ranging Midfielder” and vital sub where she changes the tempo of the match by adding an extra Stopper element. We told her:

Just get the ball.  Run everyone down.

She did that very thing.

How do we teach Emily Dwane how the very game itself works (she has never played before) through a “trial-by-fire”; keeping it fun; and, not putting the team in harms way? She has no fear going after the ball. And, she is quick. She only needs confidence born of experience. Just wait and see.

What if we listened to Mallory and gave her a starting shot at right-side Stryker? KC likes to crowd left from that spot which pushed Christy Tovar back (its her personality) during the first match. But, KC fights (endlessly) for the ball, and is an unselfish passer.  We are a strong-left-oriented attack team (Mars is at the left-side Stryker position and sets up the attack).

What if we put Jessica in the center Defense with Haley Anne, and repositioned AC to the left side Defense where she can scan the field and plug-in as needed with her speed (that is, after all, her nature)?  Haley Anne and Jessica are both relentless pursuers. Now Jessica can transition the ball deep into the Midfield (but with a focus on pin-point passing) to establish the transition.

What if we put Sarah in the Midfield Stopper position where she can use her field presence and East-West (sideline to sideline) style of play?

What if we put Michelle Higgins at the right-side Midfield spot because she understands where the ball needs to be to set up a transition?  And, she is a deft passer in a crowd.

What if we have KC and Hanah E. focus on the left-side Midfield role that stops opponent attacks (most teams tend right) and requires “fighters” – but, can also be a scoring threat (KC now and eventually Hannah as she grows and matures [she will learn a lot from KC who is also an emerging leader]).

It started to come together.

On paper it looked right and made sense based on what we had seen in a scrimmage and two matches.

The stage is set.

Match Three: Fusion Shockers vs. Lanier Lady Panthers

Different as night and day.

Even though the wind had an icy bite, we were on the pitch a good 20 minutes before the Panthers began to straggle in. I moved amongst the girls as usual making adjustments, adding some off-hand incentive, chiding, and guiding. Hannah D. was a bit more subdued – but, I knew that was because she was thinking. She was gonna “bring it” this morning. She went right to her Captain and asked to be warmed up. This was a signal for the team to begin some impromptu goal shots.  They were lose and confident; laughing and comfortable with one another (certainly COLD).

I pulled Jessica and Haley Anne aside and made them practice “static kicks” for goal kick opportunities. Joanne had been pointing out that the other teams could see what we were doing and “jumping us” before the ball could reach the midline.  In just a few minutes both girls had the ball in the air

“kick through the ball at it’s lower axis – more velocity, and higher lift.”

We let Mallory know she had the right side Stryker position, and to work with Christy and Mars.

All she said was:

“Got it.”

Michelle would start at right Wing; Hannah E. left Wing (KC likes to observe the other team to get “psyched-up” [it works]). The other key changes were Sarah at Stopper, and Jessica on Defense.

We formed our circle; our hands together knowing we HAD to win – and, with a shut-out.

I asked them what we wanted. And, with nothing less than the firmest of conviction they replied:

“WE WANT THE BALL.”

And, they proved it.

From the whistle we were a different team.

Michelle was working right away with Sarah. Every Midfielder (Michelle, Hannah E., Sarah, Grace and KC) fought for EVERY ball. They were stubborn and unyielding.

We “Controlled the Midline”.

When the ball was kicked over our Midfield Jessica would blast it back and right to Mallory that evidenced an uncanny ability to “drag” the ball through traffic and tap it off to Mars or Christy.  It was like Mars, Christy and Mallory had been playing together since U7.  They anticipated one another with exquisite timing.

We “Charged the Goal”.

When the Panthers dared to cross the Midline they were stuffed. When the ball bounced against us, our Defenders rallied and constantly frustrated the Panther’s Strykers. AC ran everyone down if Haley Anne or Claire did not cut them off. Jessica stole the ball again and again like a pick-pocket. Lindsay timed her angles better and kept her backups in mind.

Emily learned the hard way to stay out of Haley Anne’s way. But, also stopped two attacks cold single handed with well timed clears.

We “Protected Our Goalie!”

Hannah “went to the ground” making several phenomenal stops – protecting that vital shut-out.

We earned a 5 to 0 victory, and the clear understanding that we had come together as a team possessed of a will to win.

No “silly little kittens” this lot. But, “Mighty Tigers” all.

Coach Brian

1/ NOTE:  Haley Anne does not like it when Daddy calls her Haley Anne. She prefers just “Haley”.

Haley Anne Scores a Goal

It was nothing less than a THING of beauty.

There is my Haley Anne, age 12, playing “up” ( a full year early) at U14 with her next generation Fusion Shockers at their first tournament together (that would be the 2009 Lanier Cup).

As you probably know, Haley Anne is a FORMIDABLE Defender. /1

It’s early in our third match of the tournament. We need five goals with any hope to reach the tournament finals.

On a corner kick, in the 8th minute, from teammate and Captain Mars Twitchell (whom ultimately two goals herself), the ball spins off the boot of another teammate Jessica Curtis (one assist). Haley comes furiously pounding up the “pipe” (middle of the pitch [soccer field]). In seemingly surreal fashion (certainly slow-motion to her coach and father) she connects her right boot with the ball in a perfect stride that sends the ball arcing beautifully towards the goal from (at least) 40 meters out.

The hapless opposing goalie can only reach for the ball in a moot effort as it passes just cleanly beneath the cross bar and settling purposefully in the back of the net.

Brian Patrick Cork (Dad first and then Coach) /2 :

HAAAAAAAA!!!!

I only know the crowd and her teammates have gone wild because I am told later this is, indeed, fact. But, it had to be drowned out by the blood rushing from my head to my heart and the exultation (and chest thumping that followed) that erupts from my hoarse throat – as I leap (certainly with the most awe-inspiring of agility) upon my friend, and assistant coach, Chris Tovar (clearly the proud father, in his own right [and, for very good cause] of Haley Anne’s multi-season teammate Christy [who also had a goal herself]) – whom could be barely less delighted than myself.

Our teams first goal of the season is scored. By MY daughter – and, a Defender at that.

Could there be greater joy this day?

Possibly only in that the Shockers (“Mighty Tigers” all) go on to seal this victory with a five to zero demonstration of grit, fire power and indomitable defense.

It should be noted that, in Haley Anne’s view (this is typical of Haley Anne), the best goal was actually that scored by teammate Mallory Charlton. Mallory had  no less than four brilliant breakaway’s – with the fourth culminating in a one-on-one with the Keeper and a clean goal in the upper left corner of the net.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

__________________________

1/ Her Fall 2008 ASA Shockers went 12 – 0 with 7 shut-outs.  Haley Anne had no less than 13 assists as a Defender and team Captain.

2/ Convinced, no less, that his teams have a tendency to win despite his efforts.

Tournament Preparation

We need the players at Lanier no less than 40 minutes before the first match. 7:45am is a good time.

Carpooling is not a bad idea.

Try to avoid sleep-overs.

Let’s make sure all the players have cold weather gear.  I recommend Armor or Warrior gear with the extra layer.  Black is the best choice. If you have concerns about getting this gear please call me ASAP.

Bring a very warm top, mittens, and head gear as well.

The players should bring both their jerseys (blue and white).  Come for the first match prepared to wear white.

We will have approximately 90 minutes between our matches Saturday.  So, we need to scout a place we can drop in for a quick brunch as a team.

Friday have the players drink plenty of water and gatorade. No dairy products Friday or Saturday.

Coach Brian

Kits and Tournament Preparation

Our new “kits” (United Kingdom vernacular for uniforms and that related) have arrived.

Each player will be issued Fusion blue Adidas shorts, and Two Adidas jerseys – Fusion Blue (Home) and White (Away).

With some luck, we are hopeful Alex Rodriguez at Totally Soccer, will have our sweatshirts, custom tie-dye socks (yellow I think), and team bags (possibly our pennies) ready as well.

We will distribute the kits Tuesday evening at Central Park.

We then need the players to muster for Thursdays practice in full kit for a team photo to be displayed on the tournament website and our team page.

We have two more practices before the tournament (the weekend of February 21st and 22nd). We have had terrific turnouts for practices. However, I need to know it, if in the event, a player can’t make it in this coming week.

By the way…  This Blog site aside, all members of this team – parents and players alike, should always feel free to call or email me, for any reason.

Coach Brian

Monday’s Scrimmage

For Monday’s scrimmage at Fusion, I am looking and hoping for three things:

1.   Our wanting and fighting the other team for the ball.

2.   Controlling the ball; don’t kick the ball wildly.

3.   Communicating with and encouraging one another.

Those things represent foundation and the potential for our greatest growth as individuals and as a team.

Coach Brian

A Team Comes Together

This story – call it a journey if you will; and, certainly an adventure, begins at the Atlanta Soccer Academy (“ASA”).

In the Fall season of 2008 two dynamic groups of young female soccer players were preparing to cross paths and converge.

Haley Anne Cork, Hannah Erger and Christy Tovar were Captains of the ASA U12 Shockers. This team finished the Fall season with a remarkable 12 – 0 record that included 7 shutouts (clean sheets).

The ASA U14 Blast were a team of certain potential, comprised of young fighters possessed of great heart – but few wins. 

The Fall season drew to a close and heralded the ASA Rec Rock tournament.

Shockers 2008 Spring Extreme Cup ChampionsRecognizing the potential in the Blast (players), Brian Cork approached Blast coach Pat Ward suggesting that Haley Anne Cork and Christy Tovar might be ready to move up to U14 early – and, possibly spark the Blast for the looming tournament. This would also be a reasonable proving ground to determine if Haley Anne and Christy could move up in age-group early and reunite with AC Anderson with whom they had won the 2008 Spring ASA Extreme Cup.

The Blast finished the tournament with a record of 0 – 3- 0. Brian Cork had looked into the eyes of all the players and come to the conclusion that playing “not to lose” was not good enough for these latent champions!

Quickly families were drawn together over a common goal where focus had to be on a team centered on citizenship, fair-play, skills development – and, a work ethic driving towards the realization of the players fullest potential – as individuals and a team.

After a great deal of evaluation it was decided that a new team would be formed under the Forsyth Fusion banner. 

Today, we are the Fusion Shockers

“We Control the Midfield Line; We Charge the Goal; and, We Protect our Goalie”.  “We Want The Ball”.

Our motto:

“Control, Charge, Protect”. 

The Spring 2009 campaign officially begins the week of February 23rd. However, we have a “trial-by-fire” tournament looming February 21st and 22nd.

Our mission and goal for this tournament is to be READY and to come together as a TEAM.

We shall remember these days… Our character will be tested; our skills sharpened; and, our name legion.

brian  patrick cork, coach