End of the Fall CCSL Season
Tomorrow we face the division leaders in a game that may very well decide who wins the league this year. The Zorritos are an old rival of ours from previous seasons and they usually give us a good game. This year they are undefeated and are at the top of the standings with 21 points on 7 games played. We have 20 points on 8 games, and thus we need to not only beat Zorritos and move up to 23 points, but also hope they lose or tie one of their two remaining games afterward. That prospect looks hopeful as they are visiting Folsom Wave and then host Azzurri (who will hopefully have their full roster). Our last game is against the whipping boy of the league, an Elk Grove team who have lost all of their games in our division by very wide margins. So if we can beat Zorritos, we have a good chance of finishing with 26 points. And then we hope they slip somewhere in their last two games and finish with 24 or 25 points. The only other team near us is Loomis Forza who can only catch us if we lose. And if we lose against Zorritos, it won't matter what happens after that because we won't be able to reach 1st place no matter what. So whether its 2nd or 3rd, it's rather immaterial; it's not 1st.
But besides our results and our standing, I have to say that I am extremely pleased with our recent form. The boys are playing very well together and are enjoying their football immensely. Our game against Folsom was particularly impressive to watch. We had very few defensive lapses and our offensive was especially potent. We moved the ball with purpose and with top technique. We communicated well, created great chances, and converted most of them with aplomb. We followed that up with a top notch performance in Elk Grove where we humiliated our opposition by not only beating them being down a man for most of the game, but in fact went on to score 3 more goals, allowing none, after the sending off.
Which brings me to our issue of ejections and dirty play. Even though Jared received a red card in that Elk Grove game, I am seeing our progress away from that negative trend. Jared and I spoke and I believe this latest incident is allowing him to see the deficiency of such an approach. Jack Vargas has also appeared to take his play in hand and is contributing positively as he is very capable of doing. So as I hoped, this trend, as unseemly as it has been, may well be at an end, and may also be something that we can grow from. A blessing in disguise, as it were. It would be naive to say that we will not see cautions or ejections in future, as the boys will face more and more physicality as they get older. But I truly believe that we, as a team, are seeing more clearly where the line is between aggressiveness and the cost that can come from dirty play. Thank you for your help and patience with this this issue. The boys need to see and hear from the parents that the referee and the unsportsmanlike behavior of the opposition and their parents are not things that influence the way we conduct ourselves.
All the best,
It was a mixed bag, to be sure. I thought the boys did very well the first day. They ended up at the end of the weekend playing 8 games and running 4 trainings in a 7 day span. That's obviously way too much and had I known they would be so taxed at this point in the season, I never would have signed us up for this one. So it was good to see them give so much effort in the second game when they came back from the 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 against Chico. It was especially rewarding considering I had changed the game times, leaving us only an hour and a half rest leading up to that second game. I was afraid for awhile there that I would regret accommodating their social calendar. But even though it was Chico's first game of the day and we had played just a short time before, we were still able to admirably battle back and win.
But the second day was not a positive day to say the least. The boys just didn't seem to have anything left to come back from the goal down again against Oakdale. Even when we moved to a 3-4-3 in the second half, our movement off the ball, our urgency, our willingness to work for loose balls, all were so poor that no matter how long the game went on, it looked like we wouldn't muster the fortitude to equalize and go ahead. And then we had a particular issue with a lack of hustle when we needed to conserve time. That really put a damper on our team spirit, even if the result seemed foregone. We spoke about it after the game, but coming on the heels of some other negative actions the previous weeks, it feels like it's taking its toll.
So we're trying to move forward, have fun, and monitor any further negative actions. We'll make an explicit effort to ensure that our performances are 100% positive from here on out. I've spoken to the boys both at large and individually so those concerned know exactly what's expected of them and what the consequences will be should they slip again. For such a positive start to the season, it's remarkable how things can turn the other way with just a couple of bad incidents. However, I've been a part of many campaigns over the years, and even the best seasons have their share of discord. So I am steadfast in continuing the approach that has served us well in the past, and I'll need everyone's help to keep that Valor culture as positive as it has been. Thanks to everyone for their help in that regard. We need your support now more than ever. And I'm confident that we'll get this righted in good time.
All the best,
The boys continue to show signs of becoming a great soccer team. The game against Rocklin was the best soccer this team has played. They were creative. They were hard working. They were extremely aggressive. They played with and for each other. They were working off the ball well. They played it out of the back when occasion arose. They made good decisions. They were confident in taking people on on the dribble. They passed well, received to space. They were communicating. The list could go on and on.
That is not to say that they don't have areas in which they can't improve. What I'm expressing is that the pieces are coming together and they seem to fit very well. Great pieces and a potentially great team.
The unfortunate side of the tournament is that we continue to face teams that don't offer us serious competition. The boys are forced to play modified games in conditions that don't allow them full expression of their abilities and that cannot continue (I mean, specifically, in order to not run the scores up on weak opponenets they've had to play keep-away or out of position, etc.). We have one more tournament before the season starts and it too may prove to be a walk-through for the boys. But the regular season should give us some good competition and the Pleasanton tournament also. After that, I'm looking to enter a division one tournament, as it is becoming clear that there are only a few silver and below division teams who can give us a game in this area. That is good, as it verifies what I believe the boys have been moving toward for a long time: a highly competitive level of play. This is exactly the step I think they are ready to take.
The trip was definitely a success. The kids had a great time, the adults enjoyed themselves, there was good food, fun, and most importantly, the boys seemed to further develop relationships with each other.
Thank you parents for allowing your son to come. Be sure to ask them all about it. The first day we stopped at a watering hole and did some swimming and jumping off rocks. Then we got to camp, made dinner, had a campfire and got to sleep to prepare for our rafting trip.
The boys each had a partner to set up and clean up for a single meal. The boys also set up and broke down the camp with our guidance. All were helpful in contributing to the whole.
The highlights were definitely the rock diving, negotiating the rapids on the second day, the water fights and watching the boys take risks and supporting each other. The guides made sure they had tons of fun and us chaperones had a great time getting to know the boys around the campfire.
The last day we ate breakfast, broke camp, made some sandwiches and went back to the swimming hole for one last splash before stopping to get a cone at Foster's Freeze and heading home.
All went very smoothly and we'd definitely do it all again. Thanks so much for the monetary contribution and giving your son the opportunity to participate.
CUFA Tahoe Tournament Results
Thanks to everyone who came out and made this last weekend such a memorable experience. I really appreciate it when families come together (especially at our Saturday team dinners) and enjoy each others' company and let the boys do the same. For those are the moments that the boys (and us parents) will most remember fondly.
As for the soccer, it was an interesting tournament to say the least. I don't think I'd come back to this tournament unless they change their format in coming years. There were little men's soccer college programs represented, so the "College Showcase" aspect of it did little for us besides cause us to shell out more in fees. I was hoping that we'd face some stiffer competition as a result of that "Showcase draw." But we didn't. So the biggest positives that we can take away from it was experientially for the boys (almost winning a "Showcase Tournament" --even if it was such just in name-- can give them a confidence boost going into future competitions) and informatively for myself (it gave me an opportunity to get a look at how we can fit together and what we need to work on).
The Saturday games were fun for the boys, but gave us little to take away besides offering opportunity to reinforce team offensive play and good sportsmanship. They did well on both accounts I think. I don't know why some of these young teams think it a good practice to "play up" in age groups. Typically it is done to give a team good experience and challenges. But if they're so outclassed physically and experientially that they can get none of the ball, it helps them little, if at all. None of the teams we saw in our age group seemed good enough to merit the move. And the teams in the age group above ours were all playing in their proper age groups and saw top level competition. So go figure.
In our first Sunday game, it was great to see how the boys were so able to focus on the tactic we installed of man-marking and double-teaming a key player on the opponent's team. Their key attacker almost single-handedly knocked us out of the Association Cup last year, and our defense (especially Zack and Jason) took him out as an offensive factor. The boys did well at the end of the game also to defend the lead and create a sound defensive block when we moved to overload the midfield.
The final also featured some good team tenacity. The boys made the shift from our normal 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 at the beginning of the game to stifle their midfield play and challenge their wings. But we showed the lack of patience and ability to hold the ball on offense during counter attacks that caused us to abandon the 4-4-2 as our primary formation in previous seasons. So we'll work on that part of our attacking tactics as well as the issue of penalty kicks. In fact, since this first training of the week follows such a heavy weekend (and many boys will be playing with their high school teams in the morning), today's training will be light and focused on the technical and psychological aspects of kicks from the spot (penalty kicks). Team defensive shifting, clinical finishing, and combination play into the final third are also areas that this game revealed a need for improvement in.
But a good first outing, to be sure.
A mixed bag in terms of results for our District Cup performance. I thought we put forth a really good effort for every game and particularly against a strong Folsom team. Our defense is continuing to improve and learn how to play against a variety of attacks. Our midfield also is playing well and our forward line are hungry and continue to test the other team's defense with pressure and skill. But we also seem to be taking a few steps back at the wrong time. I was hoping to see us display the team possession and patience we've shown earlier in the year. I was also hoping to see us implement the restart tactics that we've worked on in training lately. But the discipline and consistency needed for those steps continues to elude us. I think our success early in the season has been double-edged: we've grown in confidence and team spirit, but it also has tended to lead us to fall back into individualism and forget what is needed to find success against tougher opponents; namely patience in the attack, working off the ball, maintaining shape in terms of width, formation levels, playing to space, and finishing with calmness. The fact that we didn't see these things in this tournament with any regularity (which we specifically targeted as a dress rehearsal for Association Cup) except in brief stretches, causes much consternation with me, and during the second game on Saturday I let it frustrate me significantly. After the game, when we usually debrief, I was afraid I was going to let that frustration spill over so I just told the boys to go and we'd talk on Sunday. I apologized to them before Sunday's game for losing my cool in that way, explained why I get worked up the way I do, and told them that I have to work on my coaching just like I want them to work on their game. I think they took it as I intended it, with sincerity, and I thought we put together a pretty good closing effort to win our last game. But again, we were still lacking in the areas above mentioned during several key stretches of play. So our complete game is still yet to be played. And we're running out of season to find it. Let's hope Association Cup is the opportunity that we finally use to achieve it. Cross your fingers!
The Juggle-thon yesterday was a great success. The boys performed exceedlingly well in attaining a great number of juggles. Many boys beat their practice record, some coming close to or beating their personal best! But best of all, from the beginning of the season to now, all the work the boys put in clearly showed itself in their final juggling tallies.
And most impressive of all is the amount the boys were able to raise for our team banquet:
Below are the results for each player (their record number of juggles and -- the money they raised). Please be sure to congratulate each boy on his effort to both improve his ball skills and to contribute to our team. Both their juggling score and their fundraising should be equally commended!
Chad 47 -- $170
Jon 34 -- $32.20
Collin 32 -- $211
Jack V. 9 -- $60
Brian 120 -- $60
Gabriel 24 -- $50
Jason 27 -- $90.50
Jack H. 9 -- $85
Josh P. 122 -- $120
Brandon 17 -- $75.50
Cole 12 -- $85
Zack 20 -- $20
Josh S. -- $180
Now the boys can collect the money from their pledges over the next couple of weeks. We will turn in all money on December 4th at our District Cup game on Sunday. If your son would like to raise more money, he can surely do so by getting pledges after the fact in the form of Flat Donations. Some boys were unable to bring in pledges before the date.
Thank you everyone for helping your son with his individual and team endeavor!
I apologize for the fighting at the game today. That is not the way we want to conduct oursevles. This is the first time that our players have thrown blows or been served red cards. But in both cases the ejections were merited. Jon and Chad both told me as much. Some of our other players intervened, but not to the purpose of incurring more fighting; most were doing as they should by trying to stop the fight. And in future, I told them that that should always be their aim: protect your teammates by getting them out of harm's way --and not by retaliating. Parents please also make sure you stay out of it as much as possible. The referees and players are usually the ones who can best settle it. And while I know parents want to help, it can often make it worse. Once one parent runs on, another usually follows, and things can quickly snowballout of control when a bunch of angry parents confront other angry parents in the name of protecting their children. But I certainly understand and appreciate your concern.
Goal Rush Classic
Good to see the boys winning and having fun. It was unfortunate that there weren't more teams of quality in the tournament for us to get in games with better competition. I applied for a number of tournaments this year with the idea that they didn't traditionally draw high caliber sides. I felt that this year would be a re-building of sorts and that we would fare better in the smaller tournaments. But now that we're handling most teams with some ease and we've thus been placed in the top division, it seems that my initial assessments may have been erroneous. Playing these types of teams will not prepare us well to face many of our opponents on our regular season schedule. So although it gives us some experience and success with our system of play and in getting to know each other and our respective responsibilities, I'm afraid that it may also give us a bit of overconfidence going into the most difficult portion of the season.
But that is indeed a smaller concern compared with the joy I have watching the boys enjoy themselves and have fun with their soccer. If we can have fun and still maintain an intensity and discipline that will give us good results, then it will all be worth it. But that's always been the balance that every coach in any situation must find. So we'll see... : )
Thank you all for participating in this event. I thought it was worthwhile for our boys on so many fronts. It was also another great opportunity for parents to get to know each other and it was good to see so many doing just that. Thanks again. I really appreciate you taking the time to come out and support the boys on such an important day.
Very pleased with our team's performance over this weekend. It was nice playing with our guests from Rocklin (though would've preferred to use them to better advantage). We had some great performances from offensive, defensive and midfield play (not to mention Michael's fantastic performance in the final). It's been tough negotiating our high school players' schedules with ours, but we've found a way through so far. I've been trying to give as much rest as possible to them while at the same time to give as much opportunity to our middle schoolers to gain fitness and establish relationships on the field with our older players. After this week there may be only a few more bumps in the road as far as game conflicts. But the training give and take will continue for some time I'm afraid.
It's clear that we are indeed one of the better U14 teams in District 6. We are indeed light years beyond many teams our age. But we may also be primed to struggle against some of the better teams that will end up being our opponents in the regular season (we are in the highest division of select teams who prefer to play in the District 6 area). So we may not have as much success in terms of results during the regular season. But I think we will have a better time because every game will be as contested as the final was in this tournament.
The Redding team we played was good. But to my mind, we were better. Our tactics were sound; our effort was great; our team play was to be lauded. A couple of our chances go in and we walk away champions. We certainly created an abundance of scoring opportunites that they didn't. The fact that we just couldn't put them in is just the nature of the sport. As I said, I was pleased with the effort and the quality of our soccer. It just didn't bounce our way, as the saying goes. We get to see them again this season (they're in our division) and I think we'll get the result we deserved today.
Thanks to all who came out and supported. The boys seem to get better with every game and that is the best sign of a successful soccer campaign this early in the process.
All the best,
Fair Oaks Select Cup
Another good outing for the boys all around. It was unfortunate that we didn't make it to the championship game as I felt we were the better team of those that advanced. But we played good soccer every game. Although we had some spells of forcing the attack and being impatient, when we do use each other correctly, we are a team to be reckoned with. Our defense continues to impress, despite being often 3/4 new to each other and to this level of competition.
I thought in the Magic Cup we showed more of our passing prowess, so I hope we do not digress into a blind forward rush as we appeared to do in some instances. We'll work on combining in training a lot these coming weeks to help ensure that we don't.
I would like to say that I think an attacking style of soccer is more attractive to watch as well as to play, so, as I mentioned, I am very pleased with our brand of soccer over the team we tied (and who went on to take the tournament). Although they performed very well in not conceding any goals in the tournament, I think having "less goals against" as one of the first tie-breakers is not the way to go. At the higher levels of the sport, offensive, attacking soccer is what is most valued, and I believe we should encourage that at the youth level. Otherwise we're fostering conservative, non-enterprising soccer, the like of which has kept American soccer out of the top tier of world competition these many years.
So I'll take a 4-1 win over a 3-0 win everytime, despite what these tournaments use as their tie-breakers. Well done, boys!
Magic Cup III
Congratulations to the boys this weekend for winning the tournament! They worked so very hard and played so well for and with each other! I was very proud of them, especially the way they battled back to overcome a deficit against a very sound and talented team. I was extremely impressed by the way the boys moved the ball throughout the tournament. They were definitely the best passing team of all the U14's there. They were patient with our possessions, passing it back, swinging it wide, communicating and working into open spaces. This is the best I've seen them in terms of team offense. I was also pleasantly surprised to see our defense deny so many attacks from all our opponents, since we have so many new players playing in defensive roles. It typically takes a long time for a defense to come together, but we only gave up one real goal (the other was an "own goal") the whole tournament long. Of course there were some misplays, but the boys hustled, recovered, and kept fighting, even saving a few clear goal chances right at the goal line! We got lucky on a few occasions to be sure, but that's okay. We'll get better, and as long as the boys are learning, fighting, and having fun, it should be an interesting and enjoyable season if this is any indication. All around, well done. And thank you to all who came, helped, and supported our boys. The team dinner was a big success because we came together and enjoyed each other's company as a team family. Thanks again.
Seeding Tournament 2011
A good event for the boys, right when they needed it. After their training camp, I wanted to see how they'd gel together. I was pleased with what I saw, but it also exposed some areas that need work. A dress rehearsal for next week's tournament, to be sure.
Coaches made their recommendations (the primary one being that Corning ought to be moved down a division) and I've submitted them to our Age Group Coordinator. We may see one or two teams moved down but likely none moved up (Fruitridge however did request to be moved up). So these will probably be the teams we face this regular season, save one or two from the division either below or above us who may come in to replace any of the teams that the league moved out of this weekend's group.
Thanks to all who came out and helped. Volunteering in some way to support the team always makes the season a more pleasant Valor-family experience. We raised $70 for the team banquet via our concession stand.
Uniforms: Home = Green; Away = White
Always bring both kits --we often interchange.
10/6/2012 3:34:22 AM - 002083575979
Love the pictures, Heidi! Especially the "blast from the past" pictures you have as the "Picture of the Week." Thanks, love. I really enjoy flipping through them after the games.
8/2/2012 6:30:32 PM - 002083575979
I apologize that not all the photos are crystal clear. I am still getting used to my camera.
6/8/2012 2:03:36 AM - 001014993453
Heidi, Amazing pictures of the Santa Cruz tourney... the pictures are great and the photographer is awesome :)
8/3/2011 6:29:55 PM - 002083575979
Great Pictures, Laura! Thank you so much! Anyone else who has pictures, please also share. I especially like the ones from the hotel and the sidelines. It's great to see all of our family represented. I'm not sure about the logistics of the site, but I believe these pictures are available to everyone. But I remember that the best resolution will be if you contact whoever took the pictures themselves and they give you a copy, rather than downloading from this site.
8/16/2010 4:32:25 AM - 002054495800
Great job on the photos phil. Thanks
8/11/2010 5:24:59 AM - 002083575979
I love looking at these photos after games, Phil. Thanks so much. Maybe post a message or send a group email to let new team member families about these and how they can also use the site?
6/8/2010 10:06:13 PM - 002083575979
Looking for a Videographer for this year. If you have the equipment and would be willing to tape some games this season, please let me know. I'd like to install some film sessions into the boys' preparations this year.
1/11/2010 1:55:08 AM - 000077813725
Phil these are great photos. We love looking at them after the games. It like seeing the game all over again! Thanks so much.
10/18/2009 4:20:51 PM - 002083644536
Hello Valor, A few parents have asked me how to down load the photos and to be honest I didn't know as I only upload them. Well I figured it out, but it is not worth the time as shutterfly is destroying the resolution of the photos to the point you cannot print them. With that said I will not be denied, send me an e-mail with the game and IMG_#### of the images you would like. I have a handy service I subscribe to that allows me to e-mail large files. As always it may take me a day or two but I will get the files sent to you.
10/16/2009 5:28:23 PM - 002054495800
Beat the Force!!!!!! Valor wins, they're in 1st place!!!!!!!
10/4/2009 9:34:28 PM - 002083575979
I just viewed the standings and it has us with a win, a loss, and a tie, and I believe the goals for and against are correct. They haven't had time obviously to put up our latest Woodland result. Let me know if I'm missing something, but I think it's fixed. If not, I'll email our age group coordinator to correct it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
9/30/2009 3:13:28 PM - 002083644536
Harvest Festival photos are up!
9/18/2009 6:44:01 PM - 002083467613
Well at least they have fixed that. The weekly results had the wrong score last night as well.
9/18/2009 11:52:29 AM - 002054495800
Scott, Check the D VI website, it has us listed as losing last week. The score is listed correctly, but the standings are listed incorrectly. FYI
9/15/2009 3:53:01 PM - 000077813725
Great pictures Phil! I really appreciate you taking the time to get these uploaded so quickly.
9/14/2009 3:35:19 PM - 002083644536
Photos from the game against Folsom have been uploaded. I apologize if some are a little dark, but mother nature kept messing with the lighting.
8/24/2009 5:14:12 AM - 002083644536
Dawn and Heidi, Thank you for taking photos this weekend in my absence. I hope this is the only tournament I miss.
8/21/2009 3:38:39 AM - 002054495800
Phil... you're welcome. I hope you are feeling well. We will miss you this weekend. I will do my best to catch a few shots. :-)
8/20/2009 8:19:42 PM - 002083644536
Dawn...thanks for uploading your pictures. They were awesome!