Bethesda Roadrunners: My Site News: Fall 2005 NCSL Recap

Fall 2005 NCSL Recap
Fall 2005 NCSL Recap

Congratulations to the birds with another NCSL league Championship!

Judging by comments from our soccer fans, the coyotes would feast on the slow and weakened Roadrunners this fall NCSL season. Frankly, such predictions were reasonable given the fact that the two fastest Roadrunners left for a younger team last spring and this summer three key players moved out of the area (California, England and ok, just across Potomac River). No doubt, the Roadrunners had a challenge on its hands this fall. After uncharacteristically weak performances in the pre-season Olney Tournament, it seemed ACME had finally come up with a foolproof plan to finish the Roadrunner.   

Meanwhile, Coach Armstong focused on correcting flaws in our game, integrating new players and establishing better discipline and mental preparations. The return of Paul from a 2-year vacation in Venezuela and Chris from a case of the Green flu ensured that the roster stability remains high in spite of losing a team record five (all impact) players in one year. Having added Jeffrey, Eli, Brian and Fabio this summer, the roster now sports 16 puberty-stricken boys. On closer inspection, the physical characteristics of the squad have changed even in comparison with other U14 teams. While the bird’s speed advantage over the coyotes is long gone (preventing us from simply running away), the birds now have “presence and mass” to face most coyotes head on.   

Should we dare to BELIEVE that the combination of a more refined game plan and each individual player (old and new) stepping up would keep the Roadrunners at the top of the NCSL standing? Certainly, if we don’t believe, nobody else will either.

In light of these circumstances the league results are that much more satisfying. Maybe no big deal, but it is a confirmation that our transition is on track. While the competition among the top teams in the league is getting closer (it invariably happens at this age), nonetheless the Roadrunners remain undefeated in league play (on age). The difference between the top 5-6 teams in this area is mostly the mental team approach on any given day. We knew (and have experienced…) the rise and power of Freestate Titans, but were also impressed to see the continued strong development of teams such as FCH Premier, MATT Crew and in particular Inter-Bethesda. IB has always had a rock solid defense, but recent recruits have also given them a very potent offense.

As usual, the scoring on the RRs was widely distributed this season with 11 different players finding the net, most of them on multiple occasions. This is a healthy sign for the team and our development. Twenty-eight tallies were 1/3 more than any other team in the division. Four goals allowed in ten games is also impressive given the strong competition and experimental rotations in the back.   Of course, it is not easy to beat Samir.

However, the difference in both team and individual player performance from game to game is still too high. We are continuously reminded that every time we enter the field thinking “it will be easy,” we have a big problem. The fact is, we had several close games and needed some pure luck along the way to win the 2004 Region 1 Championship. Last spring, the margin of luck was not on our side, but that is the beauty of the game. As for the future, the only thing we know for certain is that competition will be even tougher. Winning NCSL this fall was a nice boost to team confidence, but means nothing when we step on the field for the first game this spring. If anything, it puts us at a slight mental disadvantage, to the extent we actually think we are ahead.

We fully understand the sympathy of the soccer community-audience must lie with the Coyote. Presumably, the day we no longer create any attention, we are no longer competitive with the best. For the time being the RRs is still in the game, but surely there are more than a handful sharp coyotes able to catch the Roadrunner on any given day, even here in our own back yard.

We thank our fellow U14 teams in NCSL for a great season (w/o any significant negative incidents)!