Playing at Prospect has never been as easy task for us. For whatever reason, we just seem to have a hard time getting results there. This season, Prospect is a mid-table team (tied for 7th) in the MSL, but keeping all of their games close. Add to this that they were the only MSL school to beat us during the summer league, and we had reasons for not taking this game lightly.
The game started out as many recent games have, with us in control of possession and looking good working the ball. While I wished we would have been a little more committed to creating quality scoring chances, instead of just possessing the ball, we played a good first half. We went into halftime still deadlocked at 0-0.
In the second half, as has also become somewhat of a trend, we picked up our energy and intensity, and the chances started to come. (The first forty minutes only saw us place one shot on the Prospect goal while the second forty saw that number climb to seven shots on goal. Much better!) We did adjust tactically in the second half, coming out with a 1-3-5-2 to start, and then quickly shifting into a 1-3-4-3 after just ten minutes. Getting a few more numbers forward seemed to help quite a bit; that combined with an increased work rate.
Our break through came through Enrico Ruffolo, who calmy collected an attempted clearance from the Prospect goal area, dribbled central on his right foot and scored from just outside the top of the box. The crafty junior used two Knights defenders to screen the keeper, who saw the ball far too late and couldn’t even make an attempt.
Less than five minutes later, Klaus Pallan added the insurance goal when he paced up the right side, into the box, and slammed a shot into the roof of the net. The Prospect keeper saw this shot all the way but had no chance due to the power behind the strike.
Due to the narrow field, we immediately switched back to our base 1-4-4-2 system and closed the game out.
In the post game, we discussed how we are probably capable of coming out with more urgency and tenaciousness, however I also praised the team for their ability to get stronger as the game went on. This is another piece of who we are and it is a great quality to have. Being this way should allow us to know that as long as we defend well, we can wear teams down and strike late when needed.
One final note – kudos to our team defense, which has allowed only 17 total shots on goal during the last 7 games. Of those, only 8 have been inside of our defensive box. We are doing a great job defensively! Tonight’s shutout was our ninth of the season, and our fifth in a row. Through 13 matches we have allowed only 8 goals, which is even more impressive considering we gave up 4 goals in the season opening loss to Niles West. (Yes, that means we have allowed 4 goals in our last 12 games!) Nice job boys!
GO BRONCOS! YNWA!
Ruffolo, Enrico (UA) — 58th minute
Pallan, Klaus (UA) — 62nd minute