The Negotiators played game 4 in Saratoga this weekend against the Sizzles of Saratoga.
This was our first "away" game and despite being just a few miles from our practice field, the hidden location at Redwood Upper made it seem remote and exotic. The field itself was excellent: new, well groomed grass with no holes of note. It was a fast field, one that really rewarded ball skill.
Unfortunately between Spring Break, injuries, family commitments and the like, only eight (8) Negotiators were there at game time. The Sizzles had thirteen (13) and gamely lent us two players. It is worth noting that Alex was there at least 45 minutes before game time, ready to play, an example for us all.
Starting out 10 v. 11, the Negotiators were thrown off their game and played defense almost exclusively for the first quarter, the ball allmost entirely on our defensive half of the field. Alick had wanted to get some action in goal, and he got plenty, saving a good number of goals, but unable to stop them all.
A late coming Sizzler was adding to our side to make it 11 v 11, but the Negotiators could not find their attack mentality. Completely baffling their fans, as one point the Negotiators took a kick-off and passed it straight to the Sizzles, on purpose, settling back into defense.
Jefferson made it to the field during the 2nd quarter, and was added into play before the half, making an immediate difference in the team's aggression and attack, and before the half time whistle we had started to threaten them, periodically, on the other half of the field.
The second half started with Jefferson as GK and a couple Sizzlers playing D for us. Given the instruction to take more chances and attack, we had 3 or 4 Negotiators hanging by the half line, but more importantly, we had regained an attack mentality.
The Negotiators penetrated past the half line perhaps ten or more times, losing one opportunity to an offside call. On defense, the Negotiators played tough, with help from a couple of the Sizzlers, in the end only allowing one shot which our keeper could not keep a bead on.
Final score: 0-4
It was a shame to not have a full team, and the positive psychology that goes with that to meet the Sizzles head-on.
However, it must be said that the Sizzles demonstrated, to a player, great touch on the ball, speed, excellent tackling, and very good passing. And of course a good sense of how to attack the open space, move around the ball, and shift and cover on defense. All things that come from practice and a desire to learn to play well.
Thanks to the Sizzle's coach for lending us teammates that surely would have rather played against us the entire game.
Let's win the next one!