COTTONWOOD- Early this week, Mingus Boys Soccer Coach Calvin Behlow said he expected two of his returners from last year's team, Ezekiel Behlow and Luis Hernandez to carry some of the offensive load this year. On a cold, starry Friday night, the third-year Head Coach got exactly what he expected as the Marauders defeated Joy Christian, 6-0. Hernandez tallied three scores for the Marauders while Behlow tallied two and an assist in the Marauders last tune-up before the regular season starts on December 1.
"They hit the ball well in spurts we take a couple dry spells where we just weren't hitting the ball on frame very well so I am glad we didn't hit any over the top because I always tell my kids they miss 100% of their shots over the top so at least we were putting the ball on frame," Behlow said. "I mean even Ezekiel had a bad hit and it goes 5-hole on the goalkeeper and he even goes "that was a horrible shot" He regrets it going in but sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. That's exactly what I am expecting from them, to get the shots they need."
Ezekiel netted that shot on the Joy Christian goalkeeper after a quick counter-attack off a Joy Christian corner kick that allowed him to slip past the Joy Christian defense leaving just him and the keeper. The Joy Christian keeper came way off his line to force an early shot, and he got just that. The goal put the Marauders up 5-0. Even though the Marauders were able to run away with the win, Behlow said it was still good to see another team and have his kids get some touches.
"We have played them (Joy Christian) in the past and they have a great coaching staff, they play soccer which is great to come out and play a team that actually plays soccer," Behlow said. "They are a little undermanned this year, usually they are a little stronger but it's still good for us to get our touches and communicate and they did a good job of picking some of our faults and really exploited them so it's good to see that and talk about it."
After losing 10 seniors to graduation the Marauders are still working things out in some aspects of their game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Marauders did keep the Eagles out of the net but Behlow is trying to get his new defenders used to stepping up to provide support for the offensive side of the ball.
"It's good for them to see what I am talking about when I want them to push forward and become that drop pass for the offensive players," Behlow said. "It's just the recognition, I mean you can tell a kid 100 times and until he sees it and does it he doesn't get that advantage so I think that was really good to get some good players."
On the offensive side of the ball the Marauders put six in the back of the net but through the first quarter the Marauders weren't taking care of the ball in their offensive third of the field. Building up a play and then losing the momentum to a loose pass or losing possession of the ball.
"In the first quarter we weren't very tight in our offensive third," Behlow said. "The build-up was good and we would get there and then one pass would fail us and we would start playing defense again. After that first quarter I said now it can't be the right pass, but it has to be the perfect pass. We went to that and we got some goals that way."
It wasn't easy for Mingus though as they had to work their way in behind a tall back line of Joy Christian and had to make adjustments as the game went on. Behlow said instead of trying to make a run behind their big back line the Marauders adjusted to keeping possession of the ball on the ground.
Behlow was also able to resort to his philosophy of 'plug and play' soccer to get some of his players out of their comfort zone on the field. Instead of leaving a player in a position he has played all his life, Behlow plugged guys in all over the place to give them more of a "well-rounded perspective."
"I moved guys all over the place I tried to make them uncomfortable and make them feel out of position, just to make them think about the game rather than just playing a position that they have been playing since they were ten," Behlow said. "So by using that philosophy it makes the kids develop more of an idea of what the game looks like as a well-rounded perspective and that was fun. It was fun to be able to do that with the kids."
The third-year Head Coach was also able to get his players who may not see the field a lot during the season into their last pre-season tune up game.
"I got some kids who might not get a lot of minutes when the season comes along into the game and that's good for them it's good to get them out there and remember why they love the game," Behlow said.
The Marauders begin their season on December 1 when they host the Bears of Bradshaw Mountain at Bright Field. The Marauders haven't faced off with the Bears in a regular season game since the 2012-2013 season when they split their first two games with them. This was before Behlow took control of the program. Kick-off is set for 5 p.m.