Archive for Thursday, April 8, 2004

Opinion: Girls soccer has real toughness

April 8, 2004

The Lady 'Cats soccer team has the physical toughness it needs to succeed this year.

Soccer has a bit of a reputation as one of the "softer" sports in America, definitely not a sport where the ability to take and dish out punishment is as prized as it is in football or hockey.

But anyone who has watched a lot of soccer knows that a team that backs down physically will control much less of the possession and will need a very high degree of skill to contend.

Soccer officials have a lot of leeway in calling games.

There are rules against pushing and tripping, but each referee can decide basically how much contact he or she will allow between players jostling for the ball.

Against Harmon on Friday the Lady 'Cats had an officiating crew that allowed a lot of contact.

The Lady 'Cats used the officiating to their advantage, aggressively pursuing every loose ball and taking it roughly from the feet of the Hawks on several occasions.

Some of the Harmon players became frustrated, and they escalated the pushing and shoving. It was a pivotal point in the game for the Lady 'Cats.

They had dominated to that point, but the Hawks' forwards began trying to push the ball through the defenders rather than going around them.

Basehor was a little banged up to be playing that type of game. Ashley Odle and Sarah Couch were each playing with head injuries from games earlier in the week.

But if the Lady 'Cats would have backed down from Harmon's physical attack, it would have opened up the defense for the Hawks to get back in the game. Basehor defender Amy Williams sent a clear signal that wasn't going to happen.

Williams was shoved to the ground as she cleared the ball out of bounds and away from danger. As the Harmon player stood over her and glared, Williams got up and instead of going around her, bumped her aside with her shoulder.

The Harmon forward tried to confront Williams, but the referee stepped in, separating the two and warning both teams to cool down.

The game probably should never have gotten to that point. The referee could have made his own job easier by calling things a little more tightly early on.

But as the whistles remained few and far between, the physical play escalated and both teams seemed to be challenging the others' toughness.

The fact that Williams and the Lady 'Cats didn't back down is a good sign for the rest of the season.

Ken Couch, the team's coach, has said he always wants his teams to play within the rules, but to be physical with their opponents.

For a team that isn't stacked with a lot of All-League players, it's not only a good strategy, it's a necessary one.

The Lady 'Cats may win some games against more skilled teams this year based on their sheer toughness.

After limping out of the gates to a rough start, BLHS picked up its first win of the season last week.

The toughness I'm talking about showed in that game, and I expect it to continue.

For more on the Lady Bobcats' win, see related story on page 2B.

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