After a slow start from both teams, Upper Perk gave up three goals to Owen J. Roberts during a penalty-laden second half in Monday night’s soccer game at Tribe Stadium.
Problems taking control of the ball in the midfield plagued the Indians in the 3-0 loss.
“Our possession was better [this game] until we got to where it mattered,” Upper Perk coach Matt Nomland said after the game. “We possess the ball okay until midfield, then we play too vertical. We try to force something there.”
The possession problem was especially evident in the second half, with midfielders John McHale and Tyler Fisher both driving the ball hard down the field multiple times only to be stopped by the Wildcat defense.
The Indians also had to fight penalties throughout the second half, giving Owen J. three free kicks. Taylor Dempsey managed to get the ball in the net off of the third free kick to give Owen J. their second goal of the night.
The physicality on the field, drawing these penalties, was clearly getting to the Wildcat coaching staff. After an Owen J. player drew a yellow card, a few Wildcat coaches got into a heated argument with the referee, one drawing a yellow card after arguing with the ref further.
By the end of the night, it was clear the Upper Perk defense was tiring. Goalkeeper Chris Mundy stood out throughout the game, saving six of nine shots on goal, but even his fatigue showed as OJR’s Humphrey Chigumira drove the ball down the field and into the goal in the 75th minute.
OJR’s depth may have also played a key role in their win, giving them the ability to substitute frequently.
“When we play these big schools, it’s tough to compete,” coach Nomland said. “We have 35 kids; these big schools can have cuts.”
Still, Nomland said he saw a lot of improvement in his team this game.
“The intensity was up from the past few games,” he said. “We surprised these guys, at least for the first half. The spirits were up, the fire was there. It’s just frustrating.”