|CVHS girls defending the goal during a corner kick. Photo courtesy of Camp Verde girls soccer/ Mary Lue Allen.|
|Evelyn Paniagua-Villa and Kirsten Foster march down the field during a scrimmage. Photo courtesy of Camp Verde girls soccer/ Mary Lue Allen.|
Camp Verde girls' soccer coach Pat Allen spent the summer working with his team on the mental side of the game, and in the girls' first scrimmage of the season, Allen could see a marked improvement.
"The girls weren't just kicking the ball, they were looking for where other players were and getting the ball to the other player, or just in front of them with some space," Allen said. "We played a really nice possession game, we managed to dominate and keep the ball on the offensive half for most of the time. It's working out really well."
The Cowboys traveled to Payson High School to scrimmage the Longhorns and the Show Low Cougars. The scrimmage had a different type of format than a regular game, instead of a full game; each team scrimmaged the other for a 35 minute half and then rotated teams.
"We played a 35 minute half, against the other schools, we ended up with a total of 70 minutes, but we got to see two different teams that way, so it was really nice," Allen said.
Since this was the girls' first time taking the field against another team this season, Allen said that the Cowboys seemed a nervous, but would never say that they were and quickly overcame any nerves.
"They were nervous, although they wouldn't admit it, they were nervous at first, you could tell, but they were so excited, it was really fun," Allen said. "They took the field and right away started working the ball together, dominated the possessions and what we're trying to do is get them to play possession soccer, on offense, and it worked out well."
As customary with some scrimmages, not only did it give Allen a chance to see his team against another team, he also experimented with girls in different positions. Not only did experimenting offer Allen a chance to see how he can optimize his student-athletes talent, but it also allowed him to get all of his team some playing time during the scrimmage, as a way to help prepare them for the upcoming tournament, and see how his new freshmen will do against a higher level of competition than they are used to.
"We're really happy with what we're doing," Allen said. "We tried some girls in different positions, and I think we're going to be ready for the weekend; we've got the tournament coming up. That was the whole idea, try to get everybody in, get a little playing time. We have a lot of new girls; we have five freshmen this year. It was interesting to see them get out and play with the older girls, it was a little different speed then they're used to, but they're really handled it and did really well, we're really impressed."
One of the members of his team he moved around was sophomore Paige Church. Church was inserted into the sweeper position, which directs the defense, and according to Allen, because she directs the defense on the softball field in the spring, directing the soccer team's defense will work for her.
"We tried some different girls (at different positions), we had Paige Church at stopper, or sweeper, which she's not used to, and directing the defense," Allen said. "Being a catcher for softball, I think its really going to work well for her because she directs the game for softball too. It will be a really good position for her, we believe."
The Cowboys totaled four goals through the two scrimmages. They scored one against Show Low, and three against Payson, a younger team that could not get its offense going against either team.
Overall, Allen was happy with what he saw from his team. Allen's strikers and midfielders all played well in the scrimmages. His two strikers, Maddy Showers and Miranda Needham, are both new to the high school striking position. Needham is a freshman, so she is learning the high school game and Showers was moved to striker so the Cowboys could utilize her speed for the offense.
"We were expecting good things from quite a few different girls," Allen said. "We were happy with both Miranda Needham and Maddy Showers, at the striker position. Miranda's a freshman, so it's a little different for her. Maddy has played defense for us a lot, but with her speed, we want to try more offense. We had both Maddy and Miranda up front, then we had Melissa Zeid and Emma Houston in the mid. We had really good control of the midfield and pushed the ball up, over the top, or through the weeds."
One of the best parts about the scrimmage was that it showed Allen how far along his team is, and the depth that the Cowboys have coming off the bench. When Allen was substituting players in and out, the team does not miss a beat, and is able to continue playing strong, smart soccer.
"That's the good thing, we have a really deep bench," Allen said. "We can sub off the bench and not lose anything, or very little ... in fact, not anything. We had a really good group of girls and usually you have to sub in your starters and you're going to drop down a little bit, and things are going to change a little bit, but the bench we have, its just amazing. We can put girls in, we have to sub at the wing position ... there's no loss there when we sub off the bench, so we're just really happy with that."
Overall, Allen was happy with how his team performed in its first live-action scenario of the season. He saw that what they had been working on over the summer stuck and the girls improved their cerebral approach to the game, and the Cowboys' depth off the bench is impressive.
"It was a really good scrimmage, saw pretty much we wanted to see," Allen said. "The ball was in control; the girl's working together well, looking at the field. We didn't have any problems, didn't have any problems."