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Highlands 3 Cooper 3

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All that fanfare, well at least @FrankNicodemusand I were excited, and nothing is settle at Tower Park last night.  The two most dominant "groups" on the pitch last night would be the GK and defense of Cooper, and the attacking third of Highlands, so it was going to be fun to see which side won...and fittingly, it was a draw.  I look forward to Frank's more detailed breakdown as I'm sure he was in attendance.  I'm not surprised that Cooper's under-sized but talented midfield and top were able to get some room through Highlands' back-line / GK, so I'm sure Frank will touch on those battles as well.

Highlands is now 2-3-2, but in fairness, I think they are mighty disappointed with their last 4 results.  The worm has to turn at some point for the 9th Region favorites...right?

The Jags, against a slightly easier schedule it should be pointed out, are 3-0-3 on the season, still without a defeat.  They'll grab their 4th win this weekend before traveling to CovCath next week for what should be a great one.

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So let me ask this question regarding Highlands.  Is this another questionable coaching hire or is the team perhaps not as strong as initially thought?  Not looking to ruffle any feathers, but kind of curious what others might think that have seen them play.

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7 minutes ago, Jack of all Trades said:

So let me ask this question regarding Highlands.  Is this another questionable coaching hire or is the team perhaps not as strong as initially thought?  Not looking to ruffle any feathers, but kind of curious what others might think that have seen them play.

I'm an outsider and can't / won't comment on the coaching hire, but I will say their midfield is not as solid as I expected, a lot of loose touches and scoopy passes, and while they have 2 veteran keepers (they play both), their back line is still a work in progress (although they have a new CB that I think has a TON of potential).

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Cooper came into the Fort with high hopes after sneaking a win last week against the highly talented Colonels from Dixie.  They looked to finally get a Win against Highlands which hasn't happened since way way back in 2014, since then there had been 2 ties and Highlands outscoring them 6 times.

Highlands started 10 of their regular 11, the lone normal starter Tyler Layman was out due to sickness so Tyler Whitney was plugged in to make his 1st career start in the Midfield.  One personnel change that Highlands has done the last few games it looks like they have settled in with big man Adarsh Khullar playing one of the Center Backs.  In the goal for the evening was Conner Mathis.

Now onto the game:

Highlands controlled possession really well against Cooper which was nice to see, then 17 minutes into the game Caden Schroeder drove down the middle with some really nice footwork to get to the top of the box and laid it off beautifully to a waiting Colin Pieper to knock it past the Cooper GK for the first goal of the evening.  Highlands 1 Cooper 0

Then some unfortunate events occurred for the Birds to shoot themselves in the foot.  Just 3 minutes after Highlands goal, Highlands had a goal kick.  Mathis kicked one of those easy dishes out to Evan Jones (Center Right Back), Jones played the ball back to Mathis to clear.  Unfortunately the ball came off the foot of Jones to make it a bouncy ball back to Mathis which just ate him up that he couldn't handle cleanly with his feet (remember a pass back from a defender Mathis can't use his hands).  Before you know it Coopers big man Mason Canfield was all over Mathis and got possession with the ball and quickly put the equalizer of a goal in.  Highlands 1 Cooper 1

3 1/2 minutes later Cooper was able to drive it down the right side touchline and bang a cross thru the box in the air for a flying Jaguar to connect a beautiful header into the back of the net.  Cooper 2 Highlands 1

Then here comes drama that made Coopers coach Doug Flesch go literally bizerk.  Gesenhues drove it into the box then got sandwiched between 2 Cooper defenders, Flesch didn't see it that way but good old Owen who had the whistle did.....PK Highlands, Gesenhues picked the corner that the Cooper GK didn't guess.  Highlands 2 Cooper 2

That's how it stood at halftime.......The other thing to point out since I stated this side note against Ryle, Highlands went back to being very stingy on the Sub patterns in this game.  If my memory serves me correctly the only 2 players off Highlands bench in the 1st half were Jack Lavin (who by the way has a no fear motor like no other) and Jack Haggard who came in for Evan Jones on the back line.  That is IT!!

Second half got on the way and Highlands worked quickly to get back on top.  It was a thing of soccer beauty of unselfish passing.  Chad did some fantastic dribbling thru the mid field punched it up to Casey who could have easily tried to force a shot but instead laid it off to the left side thru the box for Colin to be waiting there to punch it into the back of the net.  The poor Coopers GK was spinning around dizzy after that combination play.  Highlands 3 Cooper 2

Then we go in our typical 25 minutes of just back and forth boring soccer possessing, no real big threats that I recall.....time to go to the concessions hit some snacks get a coke, because you realize something weird is about to happen.....

And like clockwork here we go.  Cooper gets rewarded with a throw in down by the corner flag at the 10:02 left in the game mark.  I believe it was Mason Canfield who threw the ball deep into Highlands box a Cooper player gets on the ground and the ball gets knocked into that player who somehow was able to kick it in to the back of the net for the tying goal WHILE LAYING ON THE GROUND, just like Ryle's game Owen gets surrounded by Highlands players this time no one gets YC for dissent, Owen just lets them blow off the steam (for the record you CAN play the ball while laying on the ground as long as its not in a dangerous manner).....  Highlands 3 Cooper 3

Not much other action until the last 10 seconds Cooper had one last buzzer beater attempt on the right side but Mathis was able to scoop it up, horn blew and we get another Tie which unfortunately feels more like a loss.  Highlands controlled this game for the most part, I realize I might be a little biased but this was their game and the unfortunate mental mistakes bit them once again.

Ponchak put in a few more bodies in the 2nd half, 4 to be exact (Gamble, Kearns, Lavin, Schweitzer).  Haggard started the 2nd half instead of Jones on the backline.

2 tough games ahead for the Birds: KCD on Thu and Henry Clay on Sat both at Tower, we will see how that goes.

Once again GO BIRDS!!!

Undercard matches: 

Freshman game:  Cooper 5 HHS 2

JV game:  HHS 2 Cooper 1


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1 hour ago, Jack of all Trades said:

So let me ask this question regarding Highlands.  Is this another questionable coaching hire or is the team perhaps not as strong as initially thought?  Not looking to ruffle any feathers, but kind of curious what others might think that have seen them play.

Unlike DD won't comment, I will LOL.  We have 7 Regular Season games under our belt, I can see what Ponchak is trying to do with finding out who his perfect personnel moves are.  Unfortunately, he doesn't have the luxury of people not chirping questioning his calls and management of said player personnel.  You have a group of players that these fans/parents have been watching for a few years that think they know where everybody should play and how much they should play.  Ponchak doesn't have that.....he is trying to figure it out.  To @The Double Deucepoint I have a feeling he was eluding to the fact that HHS has finally settled on Khullar on the back line which I think is the best move all season to solidify that defense which was exposed a little earlier in the season.  There are a few moves which I have stated especially regarding the GK that I would like to see changed but that's me being Frank.  

I think the Ryle massive substitutions was a problem, but I see the flip side with the fact that on paper you had 3 BIG TIME games this week with Cooper, KCD and HC.  If you don't squeeze in some of these bench players against Ryle which we looked like the more dominant team then some of those guys wouldn't see any action in over a week.  I know some hard core people would say, this isn't rec soccer if they aren't good enough to play than don't play.....but then there is a side of me that says you need to get some of those kids some action so if they "need" to play due to injury/sickness or what not they better have some experience under their belt.

I can't blame Ponchak for these stupid shoot yourself in the foot miscues on the soccer field.  Just like football, you going to blame Sphire for all the Pick 6s that were thrown in Bowling Green??  Well strike that comment b/c some probably have.

To summarize, 7 games in I am no where near even considering that this was a questionable coaching hire......


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