Tag Archives: Fusion Shockers

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

Mars Twitchell

Shockers Nation:

Mars Twitchell is out for the season with what appears to be an injured ACL. An MRI is pending. So, stay tuned.

Mars went down Saturday fighting the ball towards the net against the GFC Badgers.

I called Mars this evening to check in with her. The first thing she said to me was: “I’ve been thinking twenty ways I could have prevented this from happening”. She took a breath and added: “Like maybe a pull-back”.

That’s Mars. Always fighting and ready.

For the record, Mars is the all-time leading “shooter” for Shockers Nation with 72 goals.

Coach Brian

U14 Shockers are Spring 2010 2A League Champions

Our U14 Shockers are the undisputed League Group 2A Spring champions for the second year in a row. The U14 Shockers were undefeated this regular season with a record of 8 – 0 – 1. We scored 28 goals and had only 7 against us. We had four clean-sheets (shut-outs).

Hit this link for PDF image:  U14 Shockers are 2010 Spring 2A League Champions

Coach Brian

the virtuous shockers Mom

The telling of the tale will be fodder, not doubt, for the robust legacy of our Shockers Nation.

So…

I’ll likely send out a more detailed email tomorrow morning summarizing the ferocious match schedule we have this weekend (five matches across both days between the two squads). But, in the mean time, I need to correct a blunder I made just yesterday (although, it might have been Tuesday).

To wit…

Background:

Michelle Chamblee (U14 Shockers Leah’s Mom) offered the following:

“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else on Mother’s Day, than by being at my daughter’s soccer games.  It reminds me just how blessed I am to be a mother:)  I hope everyone else feels that way for their Mother’s Day also.  Can’t wait til the fun weekend!! – Michelle”

Then, we had the critically important news from Allison Crawford (U14 Shocker AC’s Mom) letting us know they’ve cancelled plans to visit AC’s Grandmother (who is also having surgery) in Alabama for Mother’s Day. They did this to make sure AC was shoulder-to-shoulder with her teammates this weekend for, what might be, the two most critical matches of the U14 regular season.

I am, and sincerely so, both moved, and deeply impressed by the dedication our Shockers Nation evidences daily.

My blunder, you ask?

During the email exchanges between Allison, Patty, Chris and myself, I actually (with naught but gravitas admit it’s true) tasked Allison and Patty with arranging the meals between the U14 Shockers 3pm and 7pm matches… I suggested pizza. I assure you, my lack of sensitivity brings me to my knees with the fervent hope I’m forgiven.

The Solution:

My only hope for redemption might lay within the understanding hands of my fellow Shockers Dads, of whom I beseech succor. Gentlemen, you must rally to the Shockers Mom’s, the players, and myself, and coordinate our nutritional solutions Sunday. We have the two matches… The first at 3pm, the other at 7pm – both at Georgia FC. We have roughly 2 1/2 hours between the matches. The repast must be “smart food”. I’m sure you understand.

So…. Goodly men, all – whom may I point to as a leader for this august effort?

Coach Brian

Behind the scenes… Yet another exchange between the contrite Coach Brian and certain hearty and ferocious Shockers Moms:

You know… I meant what I wrote; and Chris, in his own way, echoed our (that collective “our” reflecting the ferocious will of Patty, as well) joint philosophy around family, character – and, all the things that comprise: “the stuff of life”.

Soccer offers its drama, opportunities for comaraderie, and reflections of the epic…

But, what about your own heart, and that of young AC? Does your Mother need you there?

As passionate as I am about the “beautiful game”, and our children’s role in the representation of it, the drawing of a quiet breath and the focus on family is understood in relation to it’s importance.

My attempt at flowery language aside – are you sure?

I’ll gladly set aside, and lose any match, for any opportunity to teach a lesson around priorities. I value soccer, but I love your family so much more.

I am grateful to all of you regardless of where providence finds you Saturday.

By the way… A quote from Michelle Chamblee (Leah’s Mom): “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else on Mother’s Day, than by being at my daughter’s soccer games.  It reminds me just how blessed I am to be a mother:)  I hope everyone else feels that way for their Mother’s Day also.  Can’t wait til the fun weekend!! – Michelle”

There’s a perspective, eh. Not a day goes by that I can barely comprehend how blessed I am by our small (albeit hearty and ferocious) Shockers Nation community.

Coach Brian


another Mary’s Call to action

Mary Guthrie is the Mother of two of my Shockers (Claire and Grace).

She is also a reader of this Blog, and apparently found a form of stimulation in one of my recent posts: from whence our Inspiration, and, a co-worker.

Divine afflatus /1 certainly abounds. Mary’s own story is rather moving – and, pretty great – especially when you see how terrific her daughters are turning out.

This story is not mine, other than for the telling, as it yet, continues to unfold. But, I will participate, as are many of our fellow Shockers. And, so, as you read this, I’ll hope you will feel free to contact Mary, and add a bag.

In any event, here’s the how all of this started…

“Dear Shocker families,

Karen, my co-worker, has a daughter who is a first year fifth grade teacher at a school south of Atlanta. Karen often shares her daughter’s sweet and funny stories about her rookie year teaching experiences. Yesterday, she told me a disturbing story I will share with you.

Many of the children at Tessa’s (Karen’s daughter) school are living at or below the poverty level. A little girl in Tessa’s class told her she had hoped for, but didn’t get, a matched pair of shoes for Christmas. Tessa looked at the girl’s feet and sure enough, she was wearing mismatched shoes. One of them was held together with duct tape! Later in the day, Tessa took a moment to look around the room. While none of the other children were wearing mismatched duct-taped shoes, many were wearing clothes and shoes that were too small and very worn.

As Karen was telling this story, I thought of my daughters’ drawers and closets overflowing with an abundance of clothes and shoes. Last night, they gathered the clothes and shoes (including size 7 never-worn sneakers for the little girl with the mismatched shoes) they have outgrown or don’t wear to give to the children in Tessa’s class. (The girls didn’t grumble when I sent them to their rooms to purge their closets. They even cheerfully folded the clothes and put them in the bag nicely! Wow! Knowing where the clothes and shoes were going seemed to inspire them.)

If your children have outgrown any of their clothes or shoes, the children at Tessa’s school could really use them. Grace, Claire, and I would be happy to pick them up and bring them to Karen who will deliver them to Tessa.

Thank you, Mary Guthrie”

You can reach Mary via email at: Mary Guthrie mkguthrie@comcast.net.

NOTE: I’ll not add her cellular telephone number because we don’t wanting you to text her (especially as she might be driving). To make the best sense of that plea, read: texting and driving to death.

Meanwhile, here’s am update to round-out this tale:

“Hi Brian,

Have you been traveling around Alpharetta picking up donations instead of teaching the Chinese to golf?

My daughter Hanna has a volleyballl tournament in Chattanooga Saturday. I will be back Sunday. Let me know if you have donations for the little Jackson Elementary (Butts Co., GA) students. I can collect on Sunday.

Thanks, Mary”

FYI- The first bags of donations have already been delivered. Tessa (the teacher) is busy distributing to happy kids! LOTS of Shockers are getting bags together, too.”

Go shockers. Who wants the ball?

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Coach Brian

1/ A strong creative impulse, especially as a result of divine inspiration.

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

2009 U16 League Champions

The U16 Fusion Shockers are 2009 League Champions.

Coach Brian

U16 Shockers Win 2009 ASA Cup

Our 16 Shockers are the 2009 ASA Cup Champions.

Coach Brian

Fall 2009 U14 League Champions

With a decisive 3 to 1 victory over Fusion Lightning last night at Central Park, our U14 Shockers are the Fall 2009 league Champions.

This match was one of the most measured and balanced displays of prowess that I have seen in this squad. Everyone contributed in a significant way.

Hayla started our scoring right in front of the goal with a big booming assist from Rachel on the right side.

Minutes later, Rachel added a 2nd assist with a smooth pass to Mars right through the box.

In the 2nd half, Mars offered a deft pass to Christy who fought her way through a hard kicking crowd of opposing midfielders and defenders to blast one into the back of the net from 20 meters out.

Our Midfielders Hannah E. Caroline, Sarah, Emma and Rachel fought for every ball, and we OWNED the middle. That is, of course Shocker Ball. I was particularly pleased, and actually proud that we could rotate our midfield and get everyone a lot of minutes. Sarah did a fantastic job of transitioning from Stopper to Stryker, as needed, and has emerged as a solid and reliable utility player that keeps our momentum strong. This means our players are thriving in the “system” and style-of-play. This keeps our legs fresh, and our opponents reeling.

The Shocker defense was naught less than dominate. Haley Anne was everywhere and stuffed 80% of the Lightning play 40 meters off our goal. She also had a terrific fast break right up the middle. Meredith bedeviled the Lightning attack AT THE MIDLINE and frustrated them like a pick pocket. AC was like a ballerina (despite being knocked to the pitch twice), blithely floating past all opponents and then accelerating with blinding speed that left the Lightning drop-jawed and frustrated. Shauna demonstrated her athleticism and growing confidence by standing up to a number of fast-breaks and deftly transitioning the ball to waiting midfielders. Emily came up with a booming kick to Mars that set the stage for Christy’s goal that put the match away for us.

Hannah D. came up with three key saves including a point blank shot with four minutes to go that took all the wind our of the opposing attack.

I feel the highlight, over all, of the match was the passing and general teamwork. This, with our style of intelligent play, was a terrific way to end our regular season, and set the stage for our march on Athens in two weeks for prestigious The Athens Cup Finale, and then the Spring season.

Coach Brian

The Plan: Action 32 – Exactly

It’s all coming together.

Our girls are learning the difference between a strategy and philosophy.

And, what happens when they come together with passion and team work.

Coach Brian

Fusion U14 Shockers Lead League


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

it really is a beautiful Game

We were certainly tested this past weekend.

U16 Shockers

Our U16 Shockers fell to AFU Angels Saturday 1 to 0. The Angels put the match away with a brilliant shot into the upper left corner of the net. There were no mistakes. It was a gorgeous twenty five meter shot. And, a terrific and well fought match between two very good teams.

However, I’ll add that we dominated their end of the pitch, and had more shots on goal.

Grayce, at that right-side Stryker position, “owned” the right-side, and bombed the Angels goal relentlessly with numerous beautiful crosses. Outside Defenders Megan and Loren frustrated any hope the Angels had for an established attack, stuffing everything that came up the sidelines. Our Keeper Lauren, in the net the entire match, inspired a lot of confidence, as well as leadership, and had some of her best punts of the season.

My primary take away is how proud we must feel going toe-to-toe with those AFU teams that have been together for five years, and won many a Cup together. After Saturday’s match, both the Angels coach and managers grabbed my shoulders and acknowledged they had not played such a tough team in years. We have a history with them now, going back to last years District Cup. And, we’ll see them again in Athens, yes we certainly will!

NOTE: In light of some missed easy goals (as many as ten to fourteen, while Angles had five), we’ll be working on crossing and finishing Monday night as we prepare for two more key regular season matches, and three successive tournaments.

U14 Shockers

The U14 Shockers defeated NSA Beat 6 to 0. And, we did it a man-down with only ten players.

Apparently Meredith Black was also suffering from a bee sting. But, her determination to contribute was, nonetheless, greatly evident. I also think Hannah E. might have had one of her best matches ever. She navigated the ball right up the middle between numerous opponents at least three times (those drills are paying-off!). Hannah D. got to play an entire half out of the net. This has been a “team goal” all season”. She played Stopper with a lot of heart. And Emma was a real champ with her willingness to step into the net for her teammates. Rachel was naught less than awesome as she shelled the Beats box with one cross after another.  Mars had had four goals and then played dominant Defense in the 2nd half. AC scored another goal, bringing the ball all the way up the left side and finishing with a brilliant shot into the back of the net. Haley Anne also had a goal. We had pushed her up top to see how she fights. She was in great position the entire time. It paid off when there was a solid cross from Rachel that spun off of Sarah’s boot as it went by her. Haley collected the ball of the bounce, and shot it decisively right into the back of the net, in one move. Sarah had to canny and well-times assists, and fought hard all night. Emily stepped up (literally) and put an opponent on the ground defending the midline.

NOTE: We were a bit sloppy, despite the result. So, we need to work on holding our dribble, “bombing the box”, and communication Monday.

Coach Brian

being pleased or being satisfied

Wednesday night at practice, with some ill-advised shenanigans afoot, I found myself relating a story to our Shockers about “being pleased or being satisfied”.

I think most of them will remember the moment. If not the words, well, perhaps the catch in my voice – hopefully my heart, certainly.

We have a lot of soccer ahead of us this season. And, our Shockers collectively, have a lot of life to prepare for.

I’ve asked them to start asking themselves that simple extrapolitive question: “If I’m pleased, am I satisfied?”

I’ll always hope the answer is no. But, their tests, realized daily will forge that view of the world. I do hope they think of me in those moments. My Grandad called it: “remembering the face of my father”. Great story and parable for another time.

The point of this being, when they do anything, are they willing to ask the most of themselves, and those around them. My Grandad also used to say: “if you must judge a man do it by those around him”. When Shockers come to practice I want focus and best efforts. I added that winning and losing matches is important and fun. But, I care more about the look on their faces and the feelings in their hearts after the match – regardless of which way the ball bounces. If they can look one to the other, and know they did their best, truly and sincerely, their best, I will be both pleased AND satisfied with them.

By the way… I also challenged them with the question: “What is the difference between philosophy and strategy”. And, I’m quite curious over who comes back with an answer, where the information came from, and what it inspires going forward.

Coach Brian

leadership

Because the message clearly speaks for itself, I’ll add naught to this post but the original email from AC’s (our U14 Captain) Mom:

“Coach Brian,

I will not be at the game tomorrow because I am going to Alabama for a HUGE Event that we have in our hometown each year. I wanted you to know that I gave AC the choice of going with me (b/c she LOVES this event) or staying to play soccer.  She told me last night she felt that staying and meeting her obligation to her team (not in those exact words) was what she should do..  I was disappointed that she didn’t want to go with me, but excited that she feels so strongly about her team!

Allison”

Practice

to shocker Parents

Consider ourselves Shocker Nation.

Some say this is not Georgia’s finest team.

Bernards, each and every one, I say!

They, yes, our Shockers, I tell you truly, put forward one or another pathetic rival.  I confound them with my praise!  Yes, let me go further!  Let me say that this is not only the best and worthiest squad (a hardy and ferocious crew, I say) Mother’s have blessed us with, all unworthy though we are, but even the greatest of all!

Oh, there are others, I know, that command respect, and I love them (as should any coach, father and lover of the Beautiful Game), but here and now, rocking in its wake, I cannot but bestow all my affection on this, the final fruit of the life of we humble parents.

Yes, parents most of all!

Have I thanked you, lately, for having your daughters?

Oh, and well done, mothers, and yes of course, fathers.

Coach Brian

no kittens allowed

allright ladies…

The season is afoot Saturday.

Our new players may be mortified to hear me query, and with gusto I should add:

“Shockers – are we silly little kittens, or mighty tigers?”

The expected reponse of course should be:

“Tigers!”

And, as our Shockers rally one to the other, it won’t matter, not one wit, that Tigers fails to relate, let alone rhyme, with Shockers.

No Kittens aloud.

We are Shockers, and our opponents will remember that by days end.

Coach Brian

not just words… or deeds

Emma, One of our players, hurt her arm during practice over a week ago.

I think about her each day and look forward to when she can rejoin the team.

I exchanged emails with her mother this afternoon and wrapped that up with something I believe we, as Shocker Nation, understand in terms of what can bind us to the common objective of making our daughters straight and true citizens as well as mighty champions:

“We may often win together. But, we always pull together.”

We draw our inspiration from the fun and simple elements of a game – as well as any challenge.

Coach Brian

our daughters our Shockers

What is it about our daughters?

We look at them in all their varying shapes, sizes and attitudes – and, see princesses.

Mixed with that is the uneasy realization that we have to prepare them for a world that will often hurt them while they work tirelessly (we expect) to help make it a better place.

With that perspective in mind perhaps you come to understand when I ask them, almost daily, whether they be “silly little kittens” or “mighty tigers”.

I understand that opposing teams start matches using this against our Shockers in a derisive manner. But, by matches end, those other teams are typically hands-on-knees and understand that we are bold and fearless – and mighty tigers all.

I often find myself looking at parents and saying things like: “Have I thanked you for having AC?”. Of course that is because they likely did something great on the pitch. But, it’s also often the result of something I saw in them as a growing person. They may not be ready to espound Jeffersonian ideals just yet. But, they exhibit ever more abundant positive qualities like compassion, fairness – and, fearlessness. A balance required to succeed in almost anything worth doing in life. And the drama often played-out on the football pitch is so often a corollary for life. Yet another opportunity to remind ourselves why it is so often referred to as the “Beautiful Game”.

Yesterday, as I made my way through the parking lot at Central Park, I had an opportunity to spend a few minutes with Vicki Bineau (Lauren’s Mom). I hope Lauren won’t take exception to being singled-out (although she better get used to it because I ALWAYS have my heart on my sleeve), but I found myself, as I often do, thanking parents like Vicki for “trusting me” with her daughters.

That seems to always take parents by surprise.

I look into the faces of our young citizens and I see, oh so much, hope and passion, and fear, and uncertainty, and the potential for confidence. The latter is the best part. Seeing that something we are doing one-on-one, and through the team, is building their self-esteem.

Our Shockers will look back on these days, a short spell, to be certain, and hopefully always draw on a memory that is the catalyst for a resevoir of strength and determination to face a challenge. Any challenge.

Perhaps “We are Shockers” will echo in the back of their mind in a moment of truth (in fond memory is certainly good enough). Maybe “I want the ball” will be something they carry with them daily.

When new players sign-on with Shocker Nation, it is, almost always, a similar story… There is timidness, and a dread of the endless running – possibly a resentment towards sprints. There is also uncertainty around why Coach Brian yells – even while I seem to be having fun. However, after a few weeks they feel their bodies strengthen. Skills they did not realize were possible become second nature (like dribbling the ball and looking up and down the field). I look them in the eyes (and, I can tell this is unnerving at first), and say things like: “I know you have it in you; and, I am going to count on you to give it your best”. And, they accomplish all manner of things.

This can include keeping their chins up. Heads held high with a steady gaze.

And fist bumps are meaningful.

Some times it’s only, seemingly, a small thing such as ball control. It can also be making a courageous stand against a determined fast-break. But, regardless of the actual result, they grow, and learn something every time.

We are going into our third week and we have been quietly discussing things like respect, leadership, a legacy of the uncompromising FIGHT and our legendary defenses. Why and how we win as a team. How individuals can form a team that is like an unbreakable chain – providing it’s forged with integrity, hard work and keen desire.

And, they get it. It’s in their eyes. They run their laps without complaints now. They understand the drills and enjoy the AGGRESSION DRILL.

So… It’s different every season – yet, in the same way.

We are Shockers, indeed. Always that. But, we are citizens first. And, they are our daughters. Always that.

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

National U14 Ranking

Congratulations Shocker Nation.

We are now a ranked team. This is a major milestone, and quite an accomplishment.

Nationally:       777
Regionally:      288
State:                  57

Our goal must now be to improve that ranking.

This is a reasonable and productive objective, and can be accomplished through the pending State Cup Championships and Savannah Shamrock Celtic Cup.

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