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)

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