Sunday, July 3, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Kalamazoo FC - 01.11


- Opponent: Kalamazoo FC
- Location: Grand Park
- Attendance: 1,019
- Final Score: 3-1 W

- Starting XI: Philips, McCarthy (Ro) (C), Kraszula, Bahr, Koger, Dean, Chatterton, Rogers, Smith, McCarthy (Ra), Williams

- Substitution: Johnson 62' (Dean); Leonard 62' (McCarthy (Ro)); Sochacki 62' (McCarthy (Ra)); Bulatovic 69' (Williams); Gajdobranski 69' (Kraszula)

- Unused: Wood, Reason

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Williams 13' (assist McCarthy (Ra))
ZOO - Thompson 57' (assist Maria)
IND - Williams 68' (officially unassisted, but I think Rogers deserves it)
IND - Johnson 89' (unassisted)

- Bookings:

- Referee: ??
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

A division winning team wasn’t enough to overcome an early Sunday afternoon game on July 4th weekend, as the crowd for the game was a little less than normal (or deserved). It also meant that there was some squad rotation, with Koger and Smith getting starts for Indy. Team leading goal scorer Soderstrom wasn’t on the game day lineup, but second leading scorer Williams started up top with McCarthy (Ra) who got her first start in a few games. Not sure of the reason, but Indy played this game in their away white jerseys (maybe Kalamazoo only has one color jersey of light blue?), but if felt odd to see in Indy’s home venue.

Indy's 13th minute goal from Williams was McCarthy (Ra) taking a page out of Soderstrom’s playbook. Steal the ball, beat your defender with speed, get to the end line, and send a cross to a dangerous location at the 6-yard box. Then let Williams do what she does, which is score. McCarthy’s cross had enough pace that Williams didn’t need to do anything but redirect it perfectly out of the air and out of the reach of ZOO’s keeper, Ponstein. It has occurred to me more than once this season that it’s a shame that an injury and the effect of COVID on players around the world has kept Williams out of the professional ranks, but I’m glad that I, and Indy fans, get to watch her play in this league. My hope is that there are a couple of players on this roster, notably Soderstrom and McCarthy (Ro), that get a chance to extend their careers into the professional ranks sooner rather than later. Rogers is still playing at Xavier, but a pro career isn’t out of the question as far as I’m concerned.

The goal didn’t slow Indy down as they continued to push for more against a less talented, and not nearly as fast, ZOO team. Indy was quicker at every level, and their offense started with their stifling defense, particularly in the midfield with Kraszula, Rogers, and Dean whose work rate continues to impress me game after game. 

In the 30th minute, one of the ZOO players took a rough challenge, and it appeared, that ZOO did not have a training staff as it was Indy’s staff that initially went out to provide treatment. The ZOO staff eventually found their way onto the field, but it looked like they were still relying on the Indy training staff for treatment. For the next approximately 5 minutes, ZOO played a player down, which did them no favors with possession nor on defense. Somehow, they managed to keep the score at a one-goal deficit, but not for lack of effort on Indy’s part.

Scrappy defending from ZOO is all that prevented this game from being an absolute disaster for ZOO in the first half. Indy spent most of the half in ZOO’s defensive third of the field with Williams, McCarthy, and Koger making the ZOO defenders run ragged. 

The second half started with a little better effort from ZOO, but never really threatened Phillips, until the 57th minute when Maria and Thompson got the Indy backline out of sync and found the lower right side of the goal after some of their best interplay of the game. Robyn McCarthy is an excellent defender. She controls her area, she directs traffic among the back line, and distributes well. Combine her with the coach on the field, Grace Bahr, and you have a formidable anchor to a winning team. However, this was one of those rare times when great play from the other team was just a step better. It takes a lot to score against this team, and this is one of the best examples I have seen against them all season.

So the game was back to being tied, definitely against the majority of the run of play, but it seemed like Indy would get another. When all else fails, let Williams lose her defender, find her in space, and then let her make another goalkeeper look like they don’t know what they are doing. In the 68th minute, that is exactly what happened. However, if we're being honest, Ponstein played it about as well as possible. She came out to cut down the angle, she made herself big, but Williams was just better in that moment and curled it around Ponstein with a gentle little kiss off the post for good measure. This goal would ultimately be the last action for Williams on the night, but would also go down as the game winner and pushing her in front of Soderstrom for the team lead in goals. 

After both teams utilized their subs, the game developed a little bit of a disjointed effort for each team. ZOO found a bit more possession, but could never do anything with it, and Indy’s possession was less effective than it had been in the first half. Yet, it still never felt like ZOO was going to get a second goal while it felt like Indy was the more dangerous of the two teams.

With Indy in control late, a free kick was awarded to Indy, after Bulatovic was taken down by her defender. Sochaki took the initial kick, and then Indy would have made Coach Lowry proud as they kept taking bites at the apple from the free kick. Eventually, the ball fell to 14-year old Johnson, who shook her defender, and then put a ball back across goal from the way that Ponstein was leaning. In case you glossed over that, let me repeat it. FOURTEEN YEAR OLD Johnson scored in just her second game with the team. "It's nice to know that what we're doing this season isn't a one year thing. We got talent coming up through the ranks." You can say that again, Coach.

Indy still has the doubleheader this coming Saturday against the Detroit City FC, but there may still be more games to watch the women play locally. The rumor is that the first playoff game will be IN Minnesota against the Aurora, but a win there could result in games in Indy. Still a game to take care of against Detroit for a potential #UndefeatedXI season, but it's fun to start thinking about hosting a playoff game.

Photo Credit: @IndyMatt
I don't know if it was, but it certainly looked like this might be the last game this season for Rachel McCarthy based on the family reactions afterwards. If it is, the two have definitely put their stamp on this inaugural season of Indy Eleven in the USL W League. Robyn has captained the side for the majority of the games, while little sister Rachel scored the first, and second, goals in club and league history. While those ended up being her only two goals of the year, she did add a couple of assists, and terrorized defenses with her speed. She, at this point, also leaves the team with the club's only yellow card given. If I'm wrong, and I misread the post-game love from the family, then good. I think she has a couple more goals to give the team. I talked to Robyn afterwards and I continue to hope that she finds a professional team to run their backline. Indy Eleven in the USL Super League? One can hope.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
I don't think I have explicitly given her any GBGB props this season, but it's not because she isn't worthy. Elle Rogers has been an absolute force in the midfield for Indy this season. This game was no different. She may not have the eye-popping statistics of Soderstrom or Williams, but I guarantee you that her work rate, her vision, and her defensive effort makes both the defenders and the forwards' lives better. As with a lot of games this year, the GBGB could go to any number of players, and this one is definitely deserved for Rogers, but if you want to consider it a reward for her accumulated player for the entire season, it's deserving of that too. Great job today and this season!

Additional Photos from @DLTPhotog

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