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)

No comments: