Thursday, June 13, 2024

Indy Eleven vs Kings Hammer - 03.07


- Opponent: Kings Hammer
- Location: Grand Park
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 1-0 W

- Starting XI: Phillips, Martin (C), Darey, Bahr, Pelkowski, Otto, Chatterton, Chester, Mitchell, Whitsett, Soderstrom, K.

- Substitution: Rogers 64' (Whitsett); Jacomen 64' (Darey); Snyder 71' (Otto); Buels 77' (Soderstrom, K.); Cherry 77' (Mitchell); Unkraut 77' (Pelkowski)

- Unused: Weiger

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Mitchell 31' (assist Pelkowski)

- Bookings: 
IND - Jacomen 74' (Yellow)

- Referee: Erin Patterson
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Elite athletes can find motivation in any number of things. A perceived slight or a poor showing or just an internal drive that is higher than those around them. Indy Eleven is filled with elite players. If they needed to find motivation coming into this game, they just needed to look to the last game against Racing Louisville where it took a stoppage time penalty kick from Bahr to get the victory. If that isn't enough, they could have looked to the previous game against Kings Hammer where KH overcame a two goal deficit and being down twice to get a point from Indy. If all that isn't enough, thanks to a Lexington win in Racing over the weekend, a win tonight over KH would put them 9 points clear of KH who sit in second. Indy would sit on 19 points, with KH only able to get to 22 if they won out. A win tonight would take some of the pressure off from winning the division, with only the ability to host their first playoff game on the line for the remaining three games.

I'm sure they all knew this before the whistle blew. I'm sure Coach Dolinsky reminded them that KH didn't roll over in the first game even when they were down.

Kings Hammer arrived with the appropriate jerseys this time around so duct tape numbers weren't required tonight. So they looked the part this game, and continued to play the part of a team that wants to compete with Indy Eleven for the division title as well. It's clear that many of the KH players have played together for multiple seasons in their youth programs. They look very much in sync with each other and consistent with how they want to play. Like the previous game, they didn't come to Indy tonight and roll over. 

The first 20 minutes was back and forth. KH had the bulk of the possession, much of it in Indy's defensive half, but couldn't really do much with it. When Indy had the ball, their touch up to or by the forwards was just a bit off. Passes were too long or too short. Shots were too late or too soon. Indy managed a burst where they had a couple shots, but only one on target, and KH had an opportunity in the 21st minute that Phillips went down low to push to the side for Martin to ultimately clear. 

However, it wasn't until the 31st minute that the KH defensive effort made their first real mistake. Like good teams do, Indy made them pay for that mistake. Pelkowski put a ball through the lines and the KH defenders paused just long enough thinking that their offside trap was effective, but the flag stayed down and Mitchell touched the ball around Galley and put the ball into the far netting to open the scoring.

The goal for Indy didn't change how the two teams were playing. KH continued to hold possession, while not being able to figure out how to get the best of Martin and Bahr. Indy struggled to find the touches to unlock the back three of KH. As a result, the teams went to the halftime locker room with Mitchell's goal being the lone tally of the game. Coach Dolinsky knew he had options sitting on the bench that could change the tenor of the game like Rogers, but also knew that the experience of playing different players together will only benefit the team as they finish out the season and, now likely, into the playoffs.

The second half tilted itself firmly to KH's benefit as they lived in Indy's defensive half of the field. At one point near the 60 minute mark, KH rattled off three corner kicks as Indy could not clear the ball from their box. As good as Indy has looked at times this year, KH were getting good bounces, but they were also the aggressors. They were quicker to the ball. They played harder. They played like a team that wanted it more. Due to their place in the table and the first half goal from Indy, frankly, KH needed the result more, and they looked like the better team for large chunks of this game. 

They didn't, however, come away with a win. Sometimes it's called "winning ugly." I just think it was a gritty performance from Indy against a very good, organized, and motivated Kings Hammer squad. It's unrealistic to think that a team can win every game by scoring 3 or more goals, particularly with the squad rotation that is required in a league where players are unavailable for any number of reasons (White had to return to Penn State, for example). Yet, the capitalized on one of the few mistakes from KH and then gutted out a win. In a division where only one team makes it to the playoffs, you just have to get positive results, mostly wins, and do it however you can. Tonight, that was through grit and team defense. 

Indy don't play again until next Tuesday when they travel to Lexington, but tonight was Indy's final home game of this season unless they make the playoffs and host a game there. Tonight's win makes that more likely, but an away run of Lexington (2nd time playing this season), Kings Hammer (3rd time playing this season), and Racing Louisville (3rd time this season), also doesn't make it a guarantee. There's also the issue of the other two divisions in the Central Conference potentially snagging the hosting rights.
Please note that hosts will be decided based on host bid submission. Being the highest seed in your conference does not guarantee the hosting of matches, however, it will be one of the several contributing factors when deciding the host site(s).

It's fun to cheer for this team. It's fun to watch a group of girls/women come together for a summer and gel and come together quickly to play exciting to watch soccer. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I know that they just won the GBGB award two games ago, but this has to go to Martin and Bahr. If pressed, I might go with just Martin. The two veterans were rock solid tonight against a pressing Kings Hammer team with a speedy Taylor White and Lauren Donovan. Coach Dolinsky thought that the youthful legs of Kings Hammer showed tonight, but I think the importance of having Martin and Bahr holding down the line tonight was equally important. Their ability to see the game, defensively and offensively, allows them to overcome some of the difference in speed that they lacked tonight. A team doesn't get a gritty 1-nil win without somebody stepping into the leadership role and directing. It was a lot of team defending, proving that they could hold a team from scoring that had proven in the last game against Indy that they are capable of doing so, but that effort started with Martin and Bahr. So they get tonight's GBGB(s).

Photos - Don Thompson Photography

No comments: