ORANGE CARD: Jesuit vs Lincoln

Photo Credit: Peter Christopher

The Orange Card is a weekly production aimed at highlighting and analyzing one High School Boys varsity match each week. The column will focus on tactics, formation, and top talent in the state of Oregon. As the season progresses the author will start a Power Ranking system based off of games watched and coaches opinions from around the state.

Last night’s match started with home team Lincoln playing in a 3-5-2 formation with Kian Fees playing just behind the forwards. Jesuit maintained a 3-4-3 formation throughout the match. The match was highly intense from the start. It was clear that underdog Lincoln was determined to make a stand against Jesuit.

Despite the strong start from Lincoln, Jesuit earned an early penalty kick. The ball was played into the box, commotion ensued and the players were tightly packed, and then the referee blew his whistle. None of the Lincoln players seemed to be protesting and the penalty was awarded. (After the match, the head referee told me that the decision was awarded for an intentional hand ball in the box. However, it is worth noting that no card was given for the infraction.)

Jesuit’s Spencer Scott stepped up to take the penalty. Scott started his motion a few paces to the shooter’s left and just shy of the eighteen-yard-box. He began with a quick approach, gave a couple stutter steps, and then sprinted into the strike. Scott’s connection with the ball was poor and the shot rolled at a lackluster pace to the shooter’s left, towards the side netting. The goalie trailed the shot but somehow didn’t manage to make connection with the savable shot and the ball trickled into the net. Jesuit had the 1-0 lead within five minutes.

Jesuit is a fully equipped team. Their back line is bolstered with Pierce Baldocchi and Dylan Ruesch who play a similar partnership to Pique and Pujols for Barca. One quick bulldog tackler and one tall and athletic back capable of making stops in the air. Both players are quality on the ball and showed good reading of defensive situations. They did well to handle the dangerous Dylan Temple throughout the match. Jesuit also offers a strong midfield with Spencer Scott and George Newton playing enforcement roles in the center of the park. Scott and Newton are pivotal in Jesuit’s style of play. As a whole that style most resembles Manchester United’s offensive scheme. Get the ball forward and wide and get crosses into the box. Newton and Scott did well to enable this scheme by controlling the center and distributing balls to the widths.

Lincoln’s 3-5-2 formation was an effective choice given their opponents. Jesuit was always going to have the possession advantage given their superior skill in near all 11 spots on the field. Lincoln’s strong midfield force allowed them to get behind Jesuit’s attack and park the bus defensively. It also enabled Dylan Temple on the counter attack. Temple is a crafty and athletic player. He did well to fight for the ball and provide deft turns in traffic to make something out of nothing. With Jesuit’s superior possession, Lincoln needed him to offer a glimmer of hope and he did. It came when Temple took the ball down the right wing and produced a corner kick.

The corner clearly was a play Lincoln’s head coach Facundo Dipascuale drew up, and although it likely didn’t go down exactly as planned, it was effective. The ball was cut back and driven low and towards the top of the box to an advancing runner. The attempted play on the ball was interrupted by the Jesuit defender but the double connection sent the ball trickling behind the mass of runners making runs towards the six. This allowed William Liu to have some open space and with a defender marking him tightly he did well to slide into contact with the ball and put the shot towards goal. The shot was ever so slightly defected and Carson Shaar had no chance at re-directing his momentum. The game was even at 1-1 in the 23rd minute.

Jesuit continued to look the more dominant side. In addition to their assets mentioned above, Jesuit boasted two tremendous talents up top. Henry Rocker is an all around talented player. Despite his average size, Rocker did well as a hold up forward. He was strong on the ball and his tremendous skill allowed him to keep possession in tight spaces. His speed and cunning also allowed him to test the Lincoln back line and create new opportunities.

The best player on the pitch was Kirubel Zewdie, also for Jesuit. Rocker And Zewdie were constant threats for Lincoln. If you want to know what Zewdie plays like, watch Alexis Sanches, for Arsenal/Chile. The resemblance is strong. Both players are smaller but strong players with explosive dribbling and a knack for allowing defenders to make their error and then exploit it to great damage. Zewdie impressed with multiple dribbling performances in difficult situations but also demonstrated good decision making by passing the ball when the dribble wasn’t on.

Lincoln fought strong and their performance was admirable. Fees and Temple caused a ruckus up top and created several half-chances. For every two times it looked as if Jesuit would score, Lincoln would be on the counter-attack testing the Jesuit back three. The goal that emerged from the mess was not one that could have been predicted. It was a rather lackluster buildup and an unfortunate result. After the cross had flown in Max Rougier was unlucky to see the ball fly off his head and into his own goal. Jesuit 2, Lincoln 1.

The go-ahead-goal came with little time left. Lincoln showed great character in their continued struggle and with only a minute left, they were on the attack. The ball was played into Fees just on-top of the 18. He was blatantly fouled by a Jesuit defender and the referee had a big decision to make. In the box or out? The decision came against the home squad and a free kick right on the 18-yard-line resulted. The free-kick (taken by Tim Kirchholtes?) was blasted and rose above the defense and started to dip down on target but it wasn’t enough. The ball slammed across the crossbar and bounced to safety. It would prove to be Lincoln’s last chance.

The match ended 2-1 in Jesuit’s favor.

Man of the Match: Kirubel Zewdie

Outstanding players: Carson Shaar, Henry Rocker, Spencer Scott, George Newton, Essam Nicola, Dylan Temple, and Kian Fees.