A little soccer

How many watched on TV as Arkansas beat No. 5 Texas A&M on Sunday? It was a pleasure to listen to the breakdown of the game on TV from Julie Foudy. Her pronouncement after the game was that it was the proper result, meaning the best team earned the victory. That doesn’t always happen in soccer. A team can dominate in some respects, but a fluke goal gets in and they pack it in on defense and sneak out with a victory.

I was traveling home from Starkville and missed the start of the game, but saw most of it. I loved hearing a good analyst describe the action. Foudy is one of the best. She breaks it down a little better and her raw emotions of a great play come through.

I have followed her for a few years. When she is on the call, or doing analysis, I pay attention. Sarah, my daughter, told me years ago that Foudy was her favorite player. I’ve paid attention to her ever since.

Foudy quickly noticed in the game that A&M’s talented back line – usually a bunch that overlaps and goes forward – was pinned back by the speed of Podijil and Goins and would not be able to advance to the attack per the usual. I started watching for that as a sign that the Aggies were gaining momentum and it never happened. They tried once and the counter attack from the Razorbacks was so overwhelming that they didn’t try it again. You don’t want to see 5 on 3.

Arkansas won the 50-50 balls all day. It was a pleasure to watch. The possession and passing of this team in the first game was not great, but it’s been really good against A&M and Kentucky and I bet it gets better.

There are players on this Arkansas team that you may see on the national stage in two to three years. There is that kind of speed and ability. I’m also interested to see if Podijil is able to do some things for Lance Harter’s track team. She has GREAT speed.

One thing to note is the way Colby Hale is rotating his goalies. He’s splitting two goalies by halves. Foudy said she didn’t like goalie changes, but gets it in this respect. Hale told her that he was preparing for the possibility of covid-19 quarantines. You could be in the heart of a season and have to change goalies and use someone with no game experience. Generally, you play one goalie for the duration of the season. I like his thinking.

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Really good read, Clay. Good to see some commentary on things besides the “primary” sports. I would presume that Hale has recruited well enough to eventually replace Goins and Co. Certainly looks like.

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Podijil is a sophomore. They have recruited well every year

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Man…I would LOVE to see a former LadyBack on the US Women’s team!

podijil the elder is a soph, her little sister looked good on the backline. I think Foudy said there was a Bentonville conncection for them which is why we have them. I also love to listen to Foudy, lots of caps and contemporary of the best we have had in Mia Hamm. They were a part of the genesis of the world power that US women still are. Both sides had some really long dribbles because of the way the game developed.

The Podijil girls grew up in Bentonville and were Razorback fans. Best coach in Arkansas is Kris Henry. Bentonville High Coach. She started a club program in Bentonville about 20 years ago.

She grew up in California and was a center mid for Surf Club in San Diego and then a goalie at San Diego State.

Her husband was transferred to Bentonville by a Walmart vendor. That was a lucky break for state soccer.

Sarah played for Kris for 2 years with the Comets. And played against her for Rogers High against Kris’ early teams at Bentonville High.

And Kris and Sarah played in a women’s league together for 7-8 years.

I would guess that Kris gave those Podijil girls an early foundation. She is a wonderful coach.

I did watch that. A couple of our girls executed a nifty quick spin move similar to one on basketball to escape a trap that left the opposition open to attack. A thing of beauty. Foudy also commented that the score could have easily been 4-0. We missed an easy goal and the commentators took issue with an offsides call that disallowed another goal. But a win is a win, albeit with added anxiety and drama. And over the Aggies it’s always sweeter, especially when it knocks them off a perch.

Thanks for your insights Clay. I always enjoy the soccer articles. A church commitment prevented me from watching the match. Later in the day I watched a little of the Florabama match as I got my cardio workout in at my local community center. I do not fear either of those sides, but as you pointed out, the better team often does not win in soccer. GHG!

It could have been 4-0, but if you take all of the Arkansas chances and tally a goal on your scorecard, then you probably ought to give A&M a converted penalty kick. They hit the frame with that, a clear error. It’s the nature of the game. You’d think accomplished players would put it on frame on a PK, but they don’t even at the highest level. Kind of like a swing and miss of a mediocre fast ball in the zone. Good hitters sometimes miss. In fact, in baseball (and soccer) they miss a lot.

The team with the most chances in soccer generally wins. And, that’s what happened against A&M.

I give Colby Hale a lot of credit for getting good, talented players to play hard. That’s not easy to do sometimes. But his do.

Work ethic is what gets you on the field for Hale.

I have told this story, but about four years ago I went out to a practice and was going to interview a player afterwards. I was told to be there at 5:30. When I arrived, the communications rep told me it might be awhile because Hale had just re-started practice five minutes from the end. He didn’t like it and demanded a do-over. They went about 30 minutes while I watched and he blew his whistle and started it over for the third time. At that point, I figured I was going to miss a scheduled family birthday dinner. I excused myself and we did it another day. I figured the player I wanted to talk to was going to be too tired to talk anyway.

I heard about Bear Bryant’s way to get his players to give effort. There was a scrimmage that he didn’t like. He called the players up and said, “We’ll just scrimmage again.” The second one finished and it was worse than the first. That makes sense since the players were exhausted. He had them scrimmage a third time and the players raised their effort to a new level. You get what you emphasize and the good coaches figure out how to get it emphasized to the point of convincing their players what’s important.

Wilson Matthews could do that. I’ve heard lots of stories about the practices he had at LR High. He practiced in the basketball gym in the offseason. Obviously, they did not wear pads. And, they did not tackle to the ground, but they hit – without pads. He developed some incredibly tough linemen and linebackers. I was told that they did have blocking dummies out there and tackled them to the point that their faces were bleeding and lots of noses were broken. Players in today’s game have it easy compared to what was done years ago in football practices.

A coach better be careful about starting a practice over. He’ll get in trouble with compliance if he does that too often. You only get so many minutes on the practice field. If you do go long, you have to cut from another day and they don’t want to do that.

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