Boys U12 C3
Strikers host EC United
17 June by LS
On a nice Wednesday night, only a few days after the EC United tournament, the Strikers hosted EC United at Casper Park.
The game was set for a 7:15 kick off, and the Strikers only had 11 players for this game due to vacations and other commitments, but were set to do battle.
Because of numbers, the Strikers set up a little more defensive and EC United had the ball for some long stretches early on. Jackson S was playing goal and made some fine saves, making it look pretty simple.
The Strikers tried to play long to Gaige, but the EC United defense was stout and the only early shots came from distance for the Strikers.
In the 19th minute, Kael broke into the 18 yard box and fired a sharp shot at the United keeper, who made a nice save, but the deflected ball came right to Gaige who made no mistake in firing in the first goal of the game.
Jackson W, Riley, Tatem and Landon did nice work on the defensive end, keeping the ball away from Jackson S in goal.
The whistle blew for halftime with the Strikers up 1-0.
EC came out in the second half with physical play, and were able to again control the ball without making too many great chances. Again the defense did a great job of just clearing the ball and letting Nathan, Caleb, Brody and Gaige try to make soemthing happen on a quick counter attack.
In the 53rd minute the Strikers won a corner kick and Miles stepped up to take it. The ball curled into the six yard box and the EC players struggled with it as Gaige and Kael were looking to play it in. The EC defender moved to clear, but ended up turning the ball into the back of the net for an own goal, giving the Strikers a 2-0 lead with only a few minutes to play.
EC put some pressure on and Jackson S made a fantastic save pushing the ball out of trouble and keeping the score 2-0, with only a minute or so left to play, allowing the Strikers to notch a 2-0 win.
Eau Claire United Tournament Weekend
12 June by LS
The Strikers team made the quick trip to Eau Claire to play in their first tournament of the season. The schedule had the boys up early with a 7:15 game against Salvo SC from Woodbury, MN.
The game did not start well for the Strikers as they stuggled to get the ball out of their own half. This led to the opening goal in the 6th minute.
The Strikers started to respond, as Miles ghosted past the defense and leveled the score in the 11th minute.
Again the Strikers struggled with the passing and possession of Salvo, and again Salvo was able to find the back of the net in the 17th minute.
Brody surged forward and was fouled inside the box, drawing a PK, and Miles stepped up and converted to level the score at 2 in the 21st minute.
Only two minutes later, Miles came into the midfield and fired a long range shot that sailed over the keeper and into the back of the net to give the Strikers the lead going into the half.
Salvo started the second half with more intensity than the Strikers and were rewarded with a goal only three minutes into the half, once again levelling the score.
The Strikers did respond with Kael playing a wonderful ball to Gaige who ran onto it and placed it right into the back of the net.
That was about the end of the highlights for the Strikers, as the players began to look tired and missed some defensive assignments. Salvo scored two rapid fire goals and it seemed like the Strikers could not make much happen.
Mitchell made a number of saves but could not keep up with the shots and eventually another goal was scored by Salvo. The Strikers opening game ended with them on the short end of a 6-4 score.
Game number two was much later, with a 5:40 PM start for the Strikers against New Richmond.
The game opened in a much more positive fashion for the Strikers as Miles played a ball to Gaige who made no mistake in front of goal, giving the Strikers a 1-0 lead in the second minute.
The Strikers gained control after the New Richmond kickoff and Nathan fired a shot that the goalie could not control and Gaige was in the right place to tap home his second goal only three minutes into the game.
The defense was much better for the Strikers as Jackson W was clearing his lines and keeping Mitchell free of any hard work for the remainder of the first half. The Strikers offense could not muster any goals despite many chances, so they went to the break up 2-0.
The second half opened brightly again, as Nathan was pushing forward and fired a shot that the keeper could not handle and Gaige latched on and fired into net for his hat trick only three minutes into the second half.
Just two minutes later, the Strikers won a free kick and Gaige stepped up to take the kick and curled it toward the goal. The New Richmond keeper came out for it and got fingers to it, but it ended up in the back of the net, giving the Strikers a 4-0 lead.
Gaige continued his hot streak as in the 44th minute he followed a pass that was deflected and picked it up inside the box, made a single move and once again scored a goal, his fifth of the game.
While five might be fine, Miles found Gaige streaking down the left side again, beating the defense and once again making no mistake in his sixth goal of the contest with only three minutes to play.
The final score was 6-0 with Gaige getting a double hat trick.
This result got the Strikers out of their pool to play the FC Chievo side that won their group on Sunday at noon.
The semi-final game was underway and the Strikers controlled the ball for large periods of the opening 10 minutes, keeping the Chievo team off the ball.
The defense was outstanding and Jackson S, Jackson W and Tatem cleared several chances and Mitchell cleaning up the balls that did make their way to him every time.
In the 26th minute, Miles drove the left wing, cut inside, and then back out and fired a left footed shot pas the keeper giving the Strikers a 1-0 lead, that they kept until the halftime break.
The Strikers seemed to believe they could win the game as they came out strong again in the second half. However, Chievo was not going to give up. In the 35th minute, the Chievo forward fired a laser that Mitchell made a great save on to keep the 1-0 lead.
Grant was working hard to keep the defense clean, breaking up play all over the midfield and Nathan and Caleb ran until they could not run anymore, chasing balls on the wings and putting pressure on the Chievo players. Brody did the same up top and also kept the pressure on the defense. Kael did a great job controlling the ball and Landon won a key 50-50 ball, clearing it forward as the Strikers fiercely battled to keep the 1-0 lead.
In the 49th minute, a Chievo player handled the ball in the 18 yard box, and the referee awarded a penalty. Gaige stepped up and made no mistake, hammering the ball into the back of the net and giving the Strikers a 2-0 lead with 10 minutes to play.
With the two goal lead and time in their favor, the Strikers defense kept pushing the ball upfield and away from goal, and closing down space for the Chievo players, and the final whistle blew with the Strikers advancing to the tournament final.
The final was a rematch of the opening game, with the Strikers set to face Salvo FC again, this time for the title.
In a much better start than the first game, the Strikers did not concede early possession and really kept the ball well.
Only six minutes into the game, Miles took a shot from 30 yards out as he saw the keeper off his line and helpless to do anything but watch it fly into the back of his net, giving the Strikers an early 1-0 lead.
Once again the Strikers defense was outstanding, with Jackson S, Jackson W, Tate and Landon keeping the ball to the outside and out of the trouble spots for the most part. Grant was rock solid again, breaking up attempted passes from Salvo and generally making things difficult for Salvos attacking player. Mitchell was called on a few times, making most of it look simple. With his huge kicks out of the goal, the Strikers were able to kick start their attacks.
Just before half time, Kael made a surging run and Miles spotted him with a quick pass that Kael controlled expertly. He picked his head up and fired into the back of net giving the Strikers a 2-0 lead as they went into halftime.
Salvo started the second half stronger than the Strikers, and were rewarded with a goal in the 35th minute, making the scoreline 2-1 and causing some anxious moments for all.
However, all the Strikers players buckled down and focused on the task at hand, playing good defensive soccer and making their attacks count. The game was still up tempo and play was continuing to burst forward for the Strikers, but Gaige, Brody, Nathan and Caleb could not find a way through the Salvo defense.
With no choice left but to be more aggressive, Salvo started moving a few more players into attack, which opened the door for the Strikers attack. The play started with the defense clearing the ball and moving the ball to the outside where Gaige tracked down a long pass on the left side. He went 1-1 with the first defender on the touch line dancing toward goal where the central defender and goalie came over to challenge. Gaige picked up his head and found Nathan just outside the six yard box. Nathan took one touch, then another, and just when you thought the chance was passed, he fired a rocket into the back of the net.
With only a few minutes to play, you could see the Strikers elation, knowing they just had to keep the ball out of their own net.
As the final whistle of the tournament sounded, the Strikers ended up champions of the EC Invitational.
Strikers away to and hosting Menomonie SC
7 June by LS
On Monday, June 3rd the Strikers travelled to Menomonie and just two days later hosted them at Casper Park.
In the away game, the Strikers started fairly positively, working the ball up field on the sidelines but failing to carve out many good chances. Menomonie kept the ball better than the Strikers but the defense was sound and cleared away quite a few chances, with Mitchell making a number of saves.
In the 26th minute, Miles launched a ball through and Gaige ran onto it and took just three touches to finish around the keeper, putting the Strikers up 1-0.
The Strikers kept pressure on with a number of chances inside the Menomonie area, three shots were deflected or saved before Nathan latched onto an attempted clearance and made one quick move before firing into the back of the net to put the Srtrikers up 2-0.
The boys looked a bit tired even after the break, and Menomonie took advantage. Less than 60 seconds after the second half started, they fired in a goal to bring the score back to 2-1. Only a four minutes later, they added another to level the score at 2-2.
The Strikers struggled to get any traction or even to clear the ball out of the area as Menomonie kept attacking in wave after wave with Mitchell required to make several saves just to keep the score level.
Conceding so much possession and continued pressure was not good for the Strikers as it wore them down, and as the game progressed, Menomonie added two more goals, making the fnial score 4-2 in their favor.
The home game was even hotter than the away game, but the Strikers appeared to be much more lively.
From the start the Strikers put pressure on from the top, with Brody running at the back line whenever they had possession, forcing many loose passes the Strikers were able to intercept to start attacking.
The Strikers had several chances to score, with Miles rattling the post, Peyton firing just wide, Gaige unable to convert as well.
The Menomonie keeper was up to the challenge racing to get to balls all the way on the edge of the box and gobbling up many different balls in the box.
Not to be outdone, Mitchell made a number of amazing saves, punching out balls that looked to be sure goals, and tipping others just over the cross bar, keeping the score at 0-0 at the half.
The Strikers looked to maintain their momentum and tried to capitalize in the second half with Miles ripping several long shots, Kael working a few shots from the center, with Grant and Nathan all chipping in to try and get that first goal.
Gaige made a flaring run on a long ball through, and poked the ball twice, where it was very close to going over the line, only for the Menomonie keeper to wrap it up at the last possible second.
The defense was stout with Jackson W, Jackson S, Riley, Tatem and Owen all doing great work to clear the ball when it was in the area.
Once again, Mitchell made a number of key saves too, and the game was winding down.
There were a number of free kicks and the Strikers played the ball into the area for dangerous chances, but just could not finish any of them.
In a great game, the Strikers had to settle for a 0-0 draw.
Strikers at Eau Claire United
3 June by LS
The Strikers made the short trip to Eau Claire for a mid-week clash with near perfect weather and great field conditions.
The Strikers came out of the gates strong and Peyton made a strong run down the left hand side, playing the ball into the box where the Strikers were denied three times by a solid EC defense before Gaige was able to poke home and give the Strikers a 1-0 lead in the third minute.
The next few minutes saw EC possess much of the ball with the Strikers trying to keep the ball out of their area. The ball was finally moved to the right hand side where Seth was pushing up field when he was fouled and went down landing a bit awkwardly on his right arm. Seth could not continue, and we found out that his wrist was broken after his parents took him to get checked out.
In the 19th minute, Miles played a ball into space through the defense and Brody sprinted to the ball before being taken down in the box. Miles stepped up and finished the penalty putting the Strikers up 2-0.
In the 25th minute the Strikers were pushing up, but turned the ball over in the center of the field and EC sprang a quick counter attack, with the Strikers defense not ready the EC player went 1-1 with Mitchell and scored making the score 2-1.
EC kept the momentum and were able to win a corner kick in the closing moments of the first half. On the last kick of the half, the EC player sent the ball into the 6 yard box where a player was able to tap home from close range to tie the game as the referee blew the whistle with the game tied 2-2.
The second half started evenly, with EC looking much more aggressive and the Strikers looking very tenative being pulled out of position and not closing down the ball. Jackson S moved into goal and was immediately put under pressure a few times with EC coming close to scoring.
In the 41st minute, EC finally made the Strikers pay for not clearing their lines, scoring a goal to make it 3-2 in favor of EC.
The Strikers kept playing hard and trying to get back into the game. In the 54th minute, Miles got the ball and the left side and lifted a ball over the EC defense with Gaige running onto it, juking the keeper and poking home inside the six to tie the game at 3-3.
Once again in the closing moments of the half, the Strikers were unable to clear the ball, as they watched the ball on the ground just outside the six yard box and EC would make them pay again, scoring the deciding goal with only 60 seconds left on the clock.
In a physical battle, the Strikers played well, but their defensive effort was not quite enough to get the win.
Strikers host Somerset BU12
24 May by LS
The boys U12 Strikers team had a late evening game hosting the Somerset squad, and the weather was more late April that late May. However, with no rain, and the breeze slowing down, it was ideal for soccer.
The Strikers looked good early in the contest with Miles driving down the left hand side to the end line and juking his way to just inside the six yard box beforing faking wide and poking near post for a goal in the third minute.
Only two minutes later the Strikers won a corner and Miles kicked a ball into the six yard box where Gaige jumped up to volley home an absolutely amazing strike - the goal of the year so far - to put the Strikers up 2-0.
Jackson W was in goal and kept the ball in front of him playing to keep the Strikers in front. Tatem, Mitchell, Owen and Peyton did nice work on defense to help keep the ball away from goal as much as possible.
Grant was crucial in breaking up play from the defensive midfield role and has really grown into that role, which makes life easier for the defense.
The Strikers had the better of the first half but did not challenge for too many other goals.
The Strikers came out strong again in the second half creating a few chances. Somerset pushed the defense very high, and the Strikers were playing quite a few balls into space to let Brody, Gaige, Seth and Caleb run onto the ball and attempt to score. Seth made quite a few crosses from the right hand side, but none connected with the forwards.
Brody had a few chances, but the Somerset keeper saved one and the Brody was just off target on the other.
The Strikers looked dangerous from corners and dead balls, with Gaige almost hammering home another volley late into the game.
Nathan and Kael were able to get multiple shots away, with some just missing and others that the Somerset keeper was able to save.
Tatem and Riley were running all night trying to keep the Somerset wings wide and allowing Strikers teammates to read and react to attempted passes.
Mitchell was again great in goal, making two outstanding saves, using every bit of his tall frame to get fingertips to a certain goal, keeping Somerset off the board multiple times.
Peyton, Jackson S and Landon continued the work of the boys in the first half making sure balls that came into the area were quickly dealt with.
Jackson W made a few key tackles to stop dangerous attacks in the closing minutes, and Mitch was able to latch onto a few balls and clear the pressure by punting the ball deep.
The Strikers held their two early goals and had their first clean sheet of the season, winning 2-0/.
The boys had their best passing night of the year, and showed some good signs of playing more team soccer and seeing the whole field together to create chances and also did a great job of team defending.