Let’s not waste time and get right to the meat of it with this installments discussion of Patrick Henry; past, present and future...
The Patrick Henry Rebel’s – 2011 Stats and Notes:
Goals For: 18+ Goals Against: 35+ Goal Difference: -17
Record: When you see the goals conceded above it should be understood that this is not a needed stat…and I honestly don’t have the official one…sorry PH.
Players Lost: Most notably is probably Schamback, but PH lost a total of 7 seniors including Anderson, Trivett, Roche, Asbury, Perdue and Blake. So that looks like a healthy chunk of their midfield by my estimation.
Key Returning Players: McCauley and Montgomery…and, like the Indians, a handful of unproven players with at least a fair bit of potential.
The Tenderizing: Also like the Indians, the Patrick Henry Rebel’s Soccer team did a lot of good things this past spring, but if you were impressed at all with the side from Rural Retreat you may’ve been delighted with what PH achieved. They too had a player score into the double-digits (11) and while they had to play the Indians 3 times, they showed up and dominated the black and orange when it mattered most and made their 2nd straight appearance in Regions! Region play is a strong step in the right direction and as a slight bonus the Rebels also scored 2 goals against James River in said Regions before exiting the post season. Not being shut out in Region play is never bad!
But can they grow?
What Passes as Truth: It may pain several from Rural Retreat to hear, but at Patrick Henry there’s far less work to do, even though they lost 7 seniors. Those seniors wanted to win and instilled it in their teammates below them. Also PH gave up nearly half as many goals. While they also didn’t score as many goals as the Indians, PH played a better brand of soccer resulting in a goal difference of only -17 as opposed to Rural Retreat’s -44.
Since their entire backline wasn’t all graduating seniors this team already has a fair sense of how to play defense. But they must step it up even further! Hopefully their GK learned from the experience of last season and can build upon that (I think he was a freshmen). If they step up their defense and anticipate passes and keep marking assignments they will do great. That also means not giving up stupid goals or PK’s.
The middle of their park is where the most work and adjustments need to be made. It seems this midfield will need even more work than the defense, since this is where they lost the most to graduation. They need better, crisper and faster passing and movement. They need to control the game with possession. They also need to avoid trying to dribble through the other team’s midfield and defense. Three touches per-player, per-possession, 4 at a max would really see PH become a better possession team. But this midfield has to also help out in the attack too.
Which brings us to this point, McCauley is the Rebel attack. Be sure with all the trash talking going on last season that everyone still at their respective school knows it too. He, like the Indian’s goal scoring champion Dunford will be a marked man. And you better believe GW knows both these facts. PH must support McCauley, not only help from better passing and thru balls but also with pace up front. In reality this is an excellent scenario for these two marked players to become distributers and earn assists. If the traditional goal scorer shows other teams that they must defend other players in their squad just as much as they do them, then Dunford and McCauley will get more space to attack them as the defense most divide its attention. The difference is PH has a very physical style, if they play a finesse team with a strict ref they’re in trouble. So fight finesse with grace and strength instead. This means loads of skills drills and trying desperately to get some speed up top with McCauley, that speed can open up defenses and force them to play more honest and with more space. This will be a massive advantage to a team that plays physical.
I will be the first to admit that PH is ultimately cannon fodder for other Region competition. Unless they have worked nonstop since the end of last season then they won’t be able to withstand any strong opponent from any other District…As many suspect, they will finish at best 2nd in the Hogo - that puts them up against the first place team from the other 3 Districts; all of which are stronger than the Hogo. So they would face Bath Co. or James River; Galax or Graham or Fort Chiswell, Radford or Giles or Glenvar…and any of these teams can either beat GW or give them a hard run - or in Radford’s case, dismantle them like an 84 Caddy in Queens.
Trick is this, never give up and play smarter and harder. Nothing is impossible for the Rebels and an upset that could make me eat my words may be in the cards for them, and I would love to see that……and as always…more to follow…
P.S. If you didn’t read the previous installment then you may be unaware that PH’s much detested rival Rural Retreat is getting a bit of a boost in the coming years. In the not too distant future the Indian’s will have a middle school team that will be playing organized games against tough competition. This will ultimately make the young players coming into their high school program better player – better players sooner. The Rebels will really need to step it up in the coming years to avoid becoming the weakest team in the Hogo. Perhaps PH needs to think about adding so AA teams to their schedule?