Philadelphia Ukrainians find keys to success with solid defensive unit
(CLub V. Club)
In soccer, many times the goal-scorers get the headlines and defenders and goalkeepers get pushed into the background.
It has been the team's defense that has made it so successful in the US Youth Soccer National League EDP South Atlantic Conference.
The Ukrainians have outscored their foes, 16-0, in its five matches this season.
Their latest shutout and win was a 2-0 victory over Bethesda Soccer Club
at Baltimore Polytechnic High School in Baltimore, Md. on Sunday.
"The game went really well," head coach Roben Qawasmy.
Especially on defense, which made sure goals by holding midfielder Colin Conway and left back Michael Monser.
Goalkeeper Rohan Shetty backstopped the clean sheet. He was aided by center backs Robert Myrick and Ian Alicea, right back Joseph Turano and Monser.
"Those two center backs are brilliant working together so well," Qawasmy said. "Robert looked really, really good. He's clean in the back. He stopped a lot of attacks. ... I was happy with that."
And of course, happy with both goals, both off of long shots. Conway lifted the visitors into a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute, firing home a 35-yard drive to the lower left corner.
Monzer doubled the advantage in the 23rd minute, connecting from 30 yards. Qawasmy said his 4-3-2-1 formation allows his outside backs to be a part of the attack.
"We liked to attack with six guys," he said. "We defend with six guys. We like that system a lot."
Actually, Qawasmy likes closer games rather than 5-0 or 6-0 routs. The former keeps his team on its toes -- literally and figuratively. "When there are four or five goals scored by a team, it's a boring game," he said. "When its 0-0 and there's a last-minute goal, that's a game. People might not agree with that.
"Coaches stay on their toes, players are giving everything they got. Goalkeepers stay in the game. In a 0-0 games, you're still working, still scratching your head. 'What do I do?' "
The Ukrainians have two games remaining in the fall season. The team meets Pipeline SC Pre-Academy
Sunday before concluding this part of the schedule against SJEB Rush
on Dec. 1. "Pipeline is supposed to be a really good team," Qawasmy said.
In the U-13 match-up, the Ukrainians had conceded only one goal in a month, so when Bethesda struck for two goals within a 10-minute span in the second half to equalize the match at 3-3, it was a reality check for the team.
"They were a little shell-shocked," head coach Dan Harmon said, adding that the team said to itself, " 'OK, somebody can score on us. What do we do?' I'm proud of their composure and integrity and to commit to finishing out the game."
His team did, scoring off a corner kick with 10 minutes remaining to recorded a 4-3 victory on Sunday.
The Ukrainians had won its last four games by an aggregate total of 8-0, so it wasn't accustomed about having anyone celebrating a goal.
"I told them after the game, that they showed complete integrity," Harmon said, "being tied 3-3 and all of the momentum swung, especially without allowing a goal over the last month, being able to persevere, buckle down, go back to the game plan and execute it and walk away with a win against a good club that has showed some decent results this year."
As it turned out, it was a game defined by goals scored off of set pieces. Three of the Ukrainian goals were scored from dead-ball situations -- two corner kicks and a free kick.
"It's nice to see a play come to fruition, for sure, especially at these young ages," Harmon said.
Two of Bethesda's goal came via a penalty kick and a free kick.
"I don't know, other than the World Cup, did we see any more set pieces than that, that resulted in a goal?" Harmon asked.