Sunday, June 26, 2022

Indy Eleven vs San Diego Loyal - 09.15


- Opponent: San Diego Loyal
- Location: Torero Stadium
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 5-0 L

- Starting XI: Meredith, Powder, Timmer, Jerome, Hackshaw, Brown, Aguilera, Asante, Ayoze (C), Arteaga, Fjeldberg
- Substitution: Trilk 32' (Meredith - Injury); McQueen 61' (Timmer); Pinho 61' (Ayoze); Law 61' (Fjeldberg); Ingram 76' (Aguilera)

- Unused: Cochran, Rebellon

- Scoring Summary:
SD - Amang 29' (unassisted)
SD - Vassell 42' (unassisted)
SD - Vassell 52' (assist Guido)
SD - Own Goal (Jerome) 60' 
SD - Moshobane 85'

- Bookings:
SD - Amang 18' (Yellow) 
IND - Powder 35' (Yellow)
IND - Arteaga 43' (Yellow)
IND - Timmer 44' (Yellow)
IND - Brown 69' (Yellow)
IND - Asante 70' (Yellow)

- Referee: Matthew Corrigan
- Adage goals: Two

Thoughts and Opinions

An error by Jerome followed by an error by Hackshaw followed by an error by Meredith led to the first goal. Not a lot of times you're going to see that kind of sentence that includes all of those guys at the same time. Yet, with the comedy of errors that happened tonight, you could insert any of the players' names in that above sentence. Indy was outplayed tonight from start to finish. I was barely motivated to discuss this match before it started, and I'm inclined to go with that feeling now.

Moon made the right side of Indy look silly all night. Though we all knew he was capable of doing that.

Indy was fortunate that Vassell took a penalty kick like Jon Busch (sorry Jon, you know we love you...), otherwise Indy would have gone into half down 3-nil.

That good fortune ended up not mattering as Indy then gave up a goal in the first 7 minutes of the second half to make this a laugher. Add another goal (an own goal by Jerome) in the 60th minute and Indy, and the Indy Eleven match their second worst defeat in club history. Indy lost 5-nil to North Carolina in the fall of 2017, and had an embarrassing 7-1 loss to Fort Lauderdale in August 2015 (notable about that game was the fact that current Indy player, Pinho, scored a hat trick against them with his first goal coming in the 2nd minute).

There isn't much good to say about this game from Indy's perspective unless you count an #IndyForever performance from Nick Moon. Indy need a game in front of their home fans and they need it bad. Given that it's against the team right behind them in the playoff position race, Indy need to have a good showing next Saturday against Miami FC.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
No. I don't think we're going to be giving an GBGB this game.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Kalamazoo FC - 01.09


- Opponent: Kalamazoo FC
- Location: Mayors Riverfront Park
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 1-0 W

- Starting XI: Wood, McCarthy (Ro) (C), Isger, Bahr, Chatterton, McCalligett, Chesters, Rogers, Gajdobranski, Bulatovic, Williams

- Substitution: Cherry 45' (McCalligett); Kraszula 45' (Gajdobranski); Lindley 64' (Isger)

- Unused: Phillips, McCarthy (Ra)

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Chester 55' (unassisted)

- Bookings:
ZOO - Maria 21' (Yellow Card)

- Referee: ??
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

It's another away game for Indy Eleven, so insert my regularly scheduled comment about my appreciation of Greg Rakestraw & Margaret McLaughlin (or Darling or Presser in their place), and the production value of the Indy Eleven home games by ISC Sports Network. I had no issue with the commentary on this one, but the jerky video feed of this game was rough to watch.

Indy had a few newish faces and combination to the starting lineup and it showed for a significant portion of the first half. Indy had a lot more of the possession than Kalamazoo, but ZOO had the bulk of the good opportunities on goal early. Indy were attempting to go over the top of ZOO, but with very little success. The long passes were routinely too long, and players weren't on the same page. Eventually, Indy found their attacking footing, which lead, not surprisingly through the left foot of Williams, with their first major chance of the game in the 33-minute. William's shot was parried over the goal for a corner kick, which led to a second long-distance blast that went high. 

After the hydration break, where Coach Dolinsky had a chance to talk to everyone at the same time, unfortunately, not much changed. Indy held possession, but couldn't unlock the very disciplined backline of ZOO. After the halftime break, Indy continued to dominate the possession, and was able to find more effective shots than they were in the first half. Eventually the break through, and game winning, goal happened in the 55th minute on a 25-yard shot from Chester after the ZOO defense failed to adequately close her down as she moved through the center of the field and put the ball low and to the left of the outstretched Mora. If we're honest, of the shots that Indy took in this game, this one, from this distance, and with where the goalkeeper is standing, is not the one in which I thought they would score. Just goes to show that if you put the ball on frame, good things can happen.

After that score, it was all Indy. Possession, opportunities, and crosses. The only thing missing was another goal, but Bulatovic, Chester, and Williams did everything they could to get a second or third insurance goal, but the ZOO goalkeepers were up to the challenge and provided a solid 9 or 10 saves (unofficially...) between the two ZOO keepers. 

With the win, Indy extends their lead on the rest of the teams in the division, standing 6 points clear of 2nd place Racing Louisville, and now even on games. They also get to enjoy a bit of a break before a hectic final three games of the regular season. Indy will play in Detroit on July 1st, then return home to finish against this same Kalamazoo team on Sunday July 3rd, before finishing on July 9th in the Detroit doubleheader with the men's teams. 

Sidenote: As an Indy Eleven beat writer who has a regular job (that doesn't involve sports in any way), that week is going to be rough for me to cover all the teams' games: 
  • July 1 USL-W 
  • July 2 USL-C
  • July 3 USL-W
  • July 6 USL-C
  • July 9 USL-W/USL-C. 

We've come to expect fireworks from this team. While the scoreboard only showed one goal for Indy, this was a very professional effort by the women on the road on an extremely hot day. As a result of that professional approach to this game, the team is poised to be the regular season division champion with three more successful outings, the last of which the team hopes to break the record for most attended women's game in the state. So if you like to watch a winner, make sure you come to Grand Park on the 3rd and to Carroll Stadium on the 9th. If you're a season ticket holder for the men, you already have a ticket. Use it.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
The obvious choice for the Game Beckons Game Ball is Chester as the goal scorer. The less obvious choice is Chester as the force that ran the offense through the midfield (Rogers was a force there too...). It's Chester. Chester gets the GBGB for an outstanding effort today in the midfield on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. With her goal, she becomes Indy's 8th player to score a goal this 9 games.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks - 09.14


- Opponent: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
- Location: Weidner Field
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 4-3 L

- Starting XI: Meredith, Timmer, Jerome, Cochran (C), McQueen, Ingram, Law, Aguilera, Fjeldberg, Arteaga, Asante
- Substitution: Ayoze 70' (Fjeldberg); Hackshaw 71' (McQueen); Powder 72' (Law); Brown 76' (Aguilera); Rebellon 86' (Timmer)

- Unused: Svetanoff, Michael 

- Scoring Summary:
COL - Ngalina 17' (assist Lindley)
IND - Arteaga 28' (assist Law)
COL - Barry 45'+1' (Penalty Kick)
IND - Aguilera 63' (assist Law)
COL - Zandi 66' (unassisted)
COL - Ngalina 69' (assist Barry) 
IND - Arteaga 90'+6' (assist Rebellon)

- Bookings:
IND - Asante 22' (Yellow) 
COL - Ockford 60' (Yellow)
IND - Jerome 64' (Yellow)
IND - Aguilera 75' (Yellow)
COL - Erdmann 89' (Yellow)

- Referee: Elijio Arreguin
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Between the men's and women's teams, this is my fourth article in 8 days. I might have reached my limit for words this week. I just don't know what to say about this game. It's not like it didn't have action. Seven goals. Five yellow cards. Lindley having to be separated from Aguilera. Arteaga scoring a brace, with Law matching the brace on the assist side. Stoppage time goals. A first half stoppage time penalty kick!

There was action, but I find myself not knowing what to say about this game. The Switchbacks are a good team, and there is a reason why they are top of the league, and Indy played them well after settling into the game. Statistically, there wasn't much difference between the two teams. Other than the obvious fourth goal, which if Ngalina is honest with everybody, probably wasn't a shot, but went in anyway. 

So that means Indy played one of the best teams in the league to a virtual stalemate. Given the game was at altitude, Indy was getting guys back from international duty, and Pinho was missing after picking up a knock during the week of training, I think Coach Lowry and the boys would have taken a draw out of this game. This game was a draw in nearly all the ways except the one that counts. 

Indy returns home for a week of training before heading back west to face Landon Donovan, Nick Moon, and the San Diego Loyal in Indy's final game of their month-long away game stretch. After the San Diego trip, Indy get to return to The Mike and the newly installed turf. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

The hat trick broke the seal and Arteaga added to his goal scoring total after his slow start to the season. A confident Arteaga is going to be an important factor for this team moving forward the rest of the season, and both of his goals tonight were well done. A guy like Arteaga plays until the final whistle and will work to get every goal he can, even if it happens to be in the 90'+6'.  

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Racing Louisville - 01.08


- Opponent: Racing Louisville
- Location: Grand Park
- Attendance: ~1,000
- Final Score: 3-1 W

- Starting XI: Wood, McCarthy (Ro), Leonard (C), Bahr, Kraszula, Chester, Cherry, Rogers, McCarthy (Ra), Soderstrom, Williams

- Substitution: Bulatovic 61' (McCarthy, Ra); Chatterton 61' (Chester); Isger 82' (Williams)

- Unused: Phillips, Gajdobranski, McCalligett

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Williams 28' (assist Chester)
IND - Williams 57' (unassisted)
IND - Soderstrom 61' (unassisted)
LOU - Madril 75' (Penalty Kick)

- Bookings:
IND - McCarthy, Ra 45'+1' (Yellow Card)

- Referee: ??
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

It’s not very often that I spend the game sitting next to the coach. No, I was not provided a bench-side perspective of the game, rather Coach Dolinsky sat next to me in the press box area. Not included anywhere in the Twitter feed for the Kings Hammer game was the fact that he received a red card AFTER the game in Kings Hammer. The details of the red card aren't that important, but it sounds like it might have been the softest red card ever. Regardless, as a result of the one game suspension for Coach Dolinsky, Coach Brandon Kim took the reins for the game, while Dolinsky gave me something to periodically chuckle at as I watched a coach struggle to be a complete bystander.

Wood had 13 saves, and Soderstrom scored a brace when these two teams met a few weeks ago. After what Coach Dolinsky described as a sluggish team on Tuesday on the road in Kings Hammer, the home field advantage of Grand Park was an important factor as Indy played the team that is most able to dethrone them from the top of the table. Louisville is a talented team, and their high, and constant, press forced Indy into quick decisions and passes even during the times when they had time to consider their surroundings and options. I wouldn't call Indy sluggish today, but there were definitely moments where it looked like Indy had played on Tuesday, and LOU hadn’t played since Sunday. Indy's normal speed just seemed to be a bit negated by some tired legs, which could be a factor in why Indy seemed to be slower to the ball at times in this game. 

The nerves were immediately set on overdrive for Indy fans, when a back header from Leonard in the first 30 seconds of the game didn’t reach Bahr or Wood and a Louisville player beat Bahr to it. Indy's team defending kept the ball out of the goal, but a majority of the early moments of the game were spent in Indy’s defensive third. McCarthy (Ra), Soderstrom, and Williams were routinely seen tracking back to help cover Racing going forward. LOU’s high press had Indy scrambling and unable to maintain possession long enough to get into any rhythm. Due to the pressure from LOU, McCarthy (Ra) was forced to sit lower than her normal forward location, bringing Indy into a 3-5-2 formation. LOU tried to counter the compacted and busy midfield by keeping their midfielders wide. 

In the 7th minute, Indy had a break where Williams fed McCarthy (Ra) perfectly and McCarthy timed her run equally perfectly to be able to get in on the goalkeeper Enneking 1v1. However, McCarthy waited one touch too many and her shot was deflected out by Enneking for Indy’s first corner kick. The kick was played short and the ensuing eventual cross sailed over everybody’s head for a LOU goal kick. It was a waste of an early opportunity, and likely factored into McCarthy's ongoing frustrations, which came to a head later. 

It was notable to me that Indy’s counterattacks were stifled as much by their own mistakes as anything that the defensive four of LOU were doing. LOU is definitely a good team, but their defense might be the weak link of the group. While Dolinsky mostly remained stoic for much of the game, it was those moments of mistakes where he was noticeably bothered by the fact that he couldn’t provide any instruction to the team. 

Photo: @DLTPhotog
This was not McCarthy (Ra)’s best game. She received her, and the team’s, first yellow card of the season in stoppage time of the first half. Her frustration of continually being hacked and prevented from doing what she wanted to do bubbled over and the ref awarded the card while the ball was still in the air on a Wood goal kick. She returned to start the second half, and managed to last until the 61st minute when Robbins pulled her. When I asked Coach Kim about it, he indicated, "I think she's a little bit frustrated with how things are going for her lately, it's been a little bit of a drought without a goal. I think players need to know that we, as a staff, believe in them. ... Just because things are going her way right now, we're not going pull her off the field." As I watched the game with one eye and Coach Dolinsky in my peripheral vision, I could see he was concerned her frustration was going to cause the team to play a woman down, and he might have pulled her sooner. Some players play better when they are angry, but McCarthy does not appear to be one of those players, and I think Dolinsky might have made a decision to pull McCarthy a little sooner than Kim did.

It's one of my favorite quotes to use on this site, but "a thing of beauty is a joy forever," definitely applies to Williams and Soderstrom in the attack. The 28th minute goal by Williams was exactly what we have come to expect from her. After she collected the long ball from Chester beyond the LOU defense, she took a few dribbles to get into a good position (though I admit I thought her first step
might have pushed her too far wide), outran her defender, and then she calmly slotted it under the goalkeeper, and to the opposite side of the goal. It was a clinical finish by the veteran of this team. Her goal in the 57th minute resulted from a free kick that was sent in by Bahr. While it was a different kind of goal than her first one, it was just as beautiful, and what can be described as a "poachers goal." Be in the right place, be ready to shoot, and put it in a place where the goalkeeper can’t do anything about it. Less than 5 minutes later in the 61st minute, Soderstrom added to the goal scoring beauty after a giveaway from the LOU defense. Much like her compatriot up top, Soderstrom took a touch, and then calmly shot back against the keeper's momentum, but with enough pace that even getting a hand to the ball, Enneking couldn’t keep the ball out of the goal. Soderstrom and Williams earned their goals today and showed why they are the leading goal scorers in the division. Williams’ reaction after her second goal showed what it meant to her and the team.

The game's goal scoring was concluded with a 75th minute penalty kick goal for LOU on a called handball from McCarthy (Ro). In real time, I questioned the handball, and even after watching the highlight, I still think it's a bit harsh, particularly given some of the other calls throughout the game that weren't called by this referee. Wood guessed the correct direction on the shot, but was not able to get a hand to it, as the ball slide under her arm. That’s one she is going to wish she had done better with, but it was a well struck ball. While the BYB chanted "Thief," directed at the referee for stealing the clean sheet from Wood., Indy settled back ready to make sure the game didn't get any closer.

Not a yellow card?
I don't like to say that the referee isn't doing a good job because I've done the job, and there's a reason I don't do it anymore. It's not fun. However, looking at the screen capture of this moment in the game, when you, as the referee, are in this position on the field, watching the foul happen unobstructed in front of you, you have to give a yellow card. She had already given the one to McCarthy (Ra), so I know she had them in her pocket. When you watch the highlight, Cherry had just blown by her second defender, and Sanchez is grabbing a handful of jersey like a bully who's trying to take a kid's lunch money. Was it red card worthy for stopping a goal scoring opportunity? No, in the clip, you can clearly see that there were multiple players back and Williams was in an offside position, but if ever there was a reason for a yellow card, this was it. It was a professional foul, and probably not a good one given the help LOU had back, but it was still worthy of a yellow card. I haven't had many complaints about the referees to date in this league, but this group doesn't get high marks from me.

Indy weathered the early storm, the physical play from LOU, the LOU press, and the less than spectacular refereeing to get a win. This is the kind of game where the win means more. A rivalry game against the team just below you in the table, and so the points mean more than the 3 points that push the team solidly into 1st place in the division. To keep LOU off the board (with the exception of the penalty kick) says a lot about the fight in this Indy team and their ability to defend, get timely goals, and gut out a victory.

Indy return to action on Tuesday to start the Kalamazoo/Detroit doubledecker to conclude the season. Indy plays at Kalamazoo on Tuesday, at Detroit on Friday, then Sunday the 3rd against Kalamazoo, before finishing the season at Carroll Stadium on July 9th as part of a doubleheader with the men's team. Tonight's win didn't solidify the division, but it certainly goes a long way towards it, with Indy holding all the tiebreakers with Louisville.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

It would be so easy to give the GBGB to Williams or Soderstrom for the goals. Or the triumvirate defenders Bahr, Leonard, and McCarthy (Ro) for the goals they prevented. However, the stats indicate that LOU had 8 shots, Wood had 5 saves + the PK goal, which means that LOU was on target 6 of the 8 shots they took. Wood made strong saves, and gave Indy the chance to grow into the game after those nervy minutes in the beginning of the game. While she deserved the clean sheet, she was just inches away from saving it. "PKs are tough. She hit it well. It's always something that's in the back of goalies' minds, something that we love and hate, but love it if we save it and hate if we don't, so just looking forward to the next PK to be able to get there." That's a goalkeeper mentality right there, and that's why she gets my GBGB tonight.

Side note: The stats indicate that Indy had 8 shots, Enneking had 3 saves + 3 goals scored against her, which means that Indy also had 6 of 8 shots on target. This game came down to moments where the Indy attackers made good on theirs and Wood prevented LOU from making good on their own.

Additional Photos (Courtesy of @DLTPhotog)

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Kings Hammer FC - 01.07


- Opponent: Kings Hammer
- Location: Mustang Athletic Center
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 1-1 D

- Starting XI: Wood, McCarthy (Ro) (C), Kraszula, Bahr, Dean, Lynch, Chatterton, Rogers, McCarthy (Ra), Soderstrom, Williams

- Substitution: Cherry 45' (Lynch); Chester 45' (Kraszula); Gajdobranski 62' (Dean); McCalligett 62' (Chatterton); Bulatovic 65' (McCarthy, Ra)

- Unused: Phillips, McLaughlin

- Scoring Summary:
KHFC - Young 2' 
IND - Soderstrom 19' (unassisted - I assume)

- Bookings:
KHFC - Alexander 79' (Yellow)

- Referee: ??
- Adage goals: One

Thoughts and Opinions

1. Open Opponent's Twitter account.
2. Find game thread.
3. Refresh.
4. Scroll to bottom of thread.
5. Rinse and repeat steps 3 through 5 for 2 hours.

I guess it goes with the territory of a pre-professional league, but as I stated for the Flint City away game, and will reiterate here, "let's start with an appreciation of Greg Rakestraw and Margaret McLaughlin and the production value of the Indy Eleven home games." Indy have now played 4 away games and only two of those have been streamed (I'm looking at the barely tweeted Racing Louisville game here too).

After a delay to 7:25 PM due to heat index concerns, KHFC's first tweet about starting didn't happen until 7:37 PM. Two minutes later and Indy were already down a goal. It would seem that Indy can, at times, have some issues getting off the bus on the road and being ready to play, as the same thing happened in Ann Arbor when they gave up a goal in just the 17th second. Luckily, it's not sudden death, first team to 1, and there were still 88 minutes remaining (+ stoppage time).

Thanks to an informational assist from @IndyMatt who was at the game taking photos, we know that Katie Soderstrom tied the game in the 19th minute, seemingly off a rebound from a shot from...somebody.

Final Update:

As I had plenty of time between updates from KH's Twitter, I went and looked at the Kings Hammer roster and noticed an Indiana connection with Whitney Wells (Cincinnati, OH) playing her collegiate soccer at my second (& Brad Hauter's) alma mater, DePauw University. Whitney is going into her Junior season at DePauw, having played in 12 games last season and scoring once. 

I also went back and looked at the the 16-person squad that King's Hammer brought to Indy for the opening match on May 6th. What I found interesting is that today's KH roster only had 7 of those same players (only 6 of which played in the first game), and 4 of those players didn't come on today until halftime. I guess it should seem obvious that a team that has jersey numbers well into the 40s, likely has a large roster and the ability to rotate more players. There are 38 players listed on the KH roster page and it looks like there was quite a bit of lineup turnover from the KH team that played on Sunday

Did the temperatures and the fact that Indy started 8 of the same players that started the game on Friday night while KH were able to play fresher players affect tonight's result, so that the division's last place team got a draw out of the division's first place team? It probably didn't hurt them.

In such a short season, we've already come to expect wins and convincing wins from this team. An early goal conceded, three games in a week, and scorching temperatures means that, to me, a draw on the road is a perfectly acceptable result. Particularly since I have very little visible evidence to tell me otherwise.

Indy return home to play Racing Louisville on Friday night and will go a long way towards who finishes first or second in the division. Get your tickets and show your support.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

With so little to go on, I'll go ahead and give the GBGB to Soderstrom, the goal scorer.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Flint City AFC - 01.06


- Opponent: Flint City AFC
- Location: Grand Park
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 3-0 W

- Starting XI: Reason, McCarthy (Ro), Kraszula, Leonard, (C) Chatterton, Bahr, Chester, Rogers, McCarthy (Ra), Soderstrom, Williams

- Substitution: Bulatovic 63' (Soderstrom); Dean 63' (Williams); Gajdobranski 74' (Rogers); Barnett 74' (McCarthy, Ro); McCalligett 74' (Chatterton)

- Unused: Wood, Lynch

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Williams 7' (assist McCarthy, Ro)
IND - Williams 17' (assist Rogers)
IND - Williams 22' (unassisted)

- Bookings:

- Referee: ??
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

When these two teams met a month ago, they combined for seven goals, with Indy scoring six of those seven, behind braces from Soderstrom and Bulatovic. The only thing missing from Indy’s stellar night was the 38th minute goal they conceded to not keep the clean sheet. That game was in Flint. Tonight’s game was at the much more Indy Eleven friendly location of Grand Park, but was the first game of a three-game week. Indy faced Flint City today, face opening night foe Kings Hammer on Tuesday on the road, and then return home to face Racing Louisville for what could be the top spot in the division.

This was much of the same starting lineup from last week, with one notable difference. In place of Mackenzie Wood, the starting goalkeeper to date, was Nona Reason, who picked up her first start of the season, as well as her first clean sheet of the season. Not too bad for the Noblesville High School graduate, who has yet to turn 18 years old. When asked about the decision to play Reason tonight, Dolinsky indicated "she's leaving us now, at least for the near future, heading out to North Carolina to get herself acclimated out there. Got her a start before she goes out there. Hopefully that's a huge confidence boost for her headed into her freshman year at UNC. Maybe if we make the playoffs, I can give a call to Anson Dorrance to see if she can come back. Wonderful kid. It's been a joy coaching her and I can only wish her the best." For her first start, she held her own tonight with 3 or 4 saves (by my count). A 36th minute misjudge of a weird bounce of the ball was nearly turned into a goal as Flint City came up with the ball and had a free runner in the box. Some more outstanding defense forced the resulting shot to be well off target. The catastrophe was diverted and Reason maintained her chance at the clean sheet. That, however, was the only miscue from her.

Before I get much more into the game play portion of this discussion, there was a moment before the game that made me smile. As the teams walked out to the center before the game, the McCarthy sisters held hands with each other. Rachel said after the first game that part of the reason she was here in Indy was for the chance to play with her sister again. Seeing them walk out together, hand-in-hand, they look like they are enjoying this experience of playing with each other. As a father of daughters (who routinely bicker), the McCarthy sisters are a good reminder that there's still love there. They also add a unique dynamic to the right side of the field when both are playing on that side. 

Just 30 seconds into the game and McCarthy (Ra) put a ball just wide of the goal with her head from a cross from Soderstrom that I'm sure she wishes she had back. Shuk, Flint City's goalkeeper, was way out of position and Indy could have had a first minute goal. In the second minute, Flint City has a free kick just outside the 18-yard box that screamed just wide of goal. The early part of the game was not without action. Which led to the first goal of Maddy Williams' hat trick in the 7th minute. Williams held her run just long enough on a recycle from McCarthy (Ro) that when she collected the ball, she was all alone and had all the time in the world to pick her spot, and shot it with her left foot. That’s the kind of goal that a player of Williams’ caliber isn’t going to miss.

Photo credit: @DLTPhotog
I do not envy teams that try to defend Indy’s forwards. McCarthy (Ra) has pace for days, Soderstrom and Williams aren’t far behind her, and they all switch positions side-to-side so much that keeping track of where each one is on the field at any given moment is an absolute challenge for defenders. Throw in the fact that any of them are willing to make a 50-yard run back to defend, and keeping track of them means you have to be switched on for a full 90 minutes. There was a moment in this game where I watched as the ball was being brought forward on the right wing and the three of them met each other at the top of the box as they crisscrossed each other and scrubbed off defenders in the process. It looked like a pick in basketball, or one of those football crossing routes with two wide receivers who run past each other so that one of the defenders is caught up in the traffic jam. McCarthy (Ra), Soderstrom, and Williams did this exact same thing. Given the ability of all three of them to score goals, losing your assignment on any of them could spell trouble.

Photo Credit: @DLTPhotog
Which is how we find Williams' second goal of the hat trick in the 17th minute. See above paragraph. Williams’ defender lost track of her for 2 seconds, Rogers found an opening to get it to her, and Williams put a ball up and over Shuk that she could do nothing about. Unless she was 12-inches taller. The ball was perfectly struck and perfectly placed in the only location it could have been to get a goal. That's the ability that Williams has to make defenses pay.

The third goal by Williams came just 5 minutes later, to complete her first half hat trick in the 22nd minute. Again, hanging out on the left side of the field (though I promise you she spent as much time on the right and in the center), Williams struck a one-time blast back across the goal after a poor headed clearance. Watch the clip. She's already scored two goals and the Flint City defenders lose her for 2 seconds and she made them pay for it. When these three play like they did tonight, it’s just nearly impossible to keep track of them. Williams struck the ball so well that Shuk barely moved, either because she thought there was no way it was going to be on frame, or if it was, then she knew she wasn’t getting to it. Turned out to be the latter. "She's an incredibly gifted and talented goal scorer. She's been trying too hard at times and the first one today was the confidence builder that I think she needed. The next two, you're thinking to yourself, almost on the verge of wonder goals. Great individual effort by her. ... My hope is that we have the professional level in Indy sooner rather than later, and we have a homegrown player already." - Dolinsky 

Photo credit: @DLTPhotog
Look, it's obvious who is going to get the GBGB, but it has to be said. The Indy midfield bossed the Flint City midfield on the left, right, and center. Much like the fact that the Flint defenders couldn’t keep track of McCarthy (Ra), Soderstrom, and Williams, the midfield of Chatterton, Chester, Kraszula, and Rogers had the Flint City midfield chasing shadows. One of them were constantly on the ball either pushing the ball forward or defending. Flint City's openings for passes were small and short-lived. I'm not sure how well it could be seen on the telecast because so much of their work was often off-camera, but the Indy midfield were the engine that made this team run tonight. 

During a lull in the noise from the BYB, you could here Dolinsky say in the 33rd minute, “Stop giving the ball away!” Typical coach. Even when your team is ahead by three goals and dominating the game, you have to find something to try and improve upon. 

“First 5 Blue, first 5!” – Leonard coming out of half. Love to hear an adage goal command from the captain.

Photo credit: @DLTPhotog
First ten minutes of second half, Indy continued to keep their foot on the gas pedal. Soderstrom had two shots that went just wide and another from McCarthy (Ra) that found the outside of the side netting. However, much like the men’s team seemed to settle into a rhythm when they were up 4-1 against Charleston, the women’s team found it more difficult to break the Flint City defense in the second half. A 3-nil lead, the 3 games in a week, and necessary substitutions took some of the edge off of Indy, and their finishes became less clinical. Dolinsky was happy that, despite not extending their lead after Williams' three goals, they maintained much of the possession and didn't let Flint City work their way back into the game. It was a very professional effort to see the game to its conclusion. Maintain possession, keep a clean sheet, stay healthy. Check. Check. Check.

This is the kind of game if you’re a neutral spectator that you feel a little sorry for the away team because they were overmatched at all positions. As I watched the game and marveled at the front three, and the play of the midfield four, and the brick wall that was the back three, I began to wonder if this team has a weak link. I decided, in this game, it was the backup goalkeeper Reason. All she did was save every shot that came at her on her way to the team's third clean sheet in six games. There may be other good teams in this league, and there are still 6 more games before the playoffs, but a dominant undefeated first half of the season has me believing that this team has to be in the discussion for best team in the league.

As mentioned above, Indy is back at it on Tuesday at Kings Hammer before returning to Grand Park next Friday to play Racing Louisville. That's going to be an exciting game, with likely a lot on the line now that we're into the second half of the season. Get your tickets now.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

When you score a hat trick in 22 minutes, it makes for an easy decision for the GBGB. The former Purdue Boilermaker made the goal look like it was twice the size for her today. "Somedays you just hit the field and you just feel on, and that's how today felt for me and I was, obviously, thrilled to get those goals, but those girls got me balls in really good positions and made it pretty easy for me. ... The three of us up top are all dangerous in very different ways, so I think the more that we can interchange and the more we can switch positions and get more teammates involved, the better chances we have." With her hat trick, she is now tied on the team with Soderstrom in both goals (5) and assists (1) to co-lead the team. Again, this team is a nightmare to defend and they know it. Tonight was Williams' night and seeing the ball go in the goal is only going to make her more dangerous moving forward.

Additional Photos (Courtesy of @DLTPhotog)