Trust on defense. It’s one philosophy followed by many of the mid-Hudson Valley’s top high school soccer teams.
And, that trust begins long before the goalie has a chance to touch the ball.
For Rhinebeck girls, the defensive quartet of Natalie Hutchins, Jacque Miller, Barr Lavi-Romer and Alex Dunn has been so effective coach Matt Grande said he can “laud his defense until the cows come home.”
“Relying on each other and knowing anyone can do the job,” Grande said of his team’s defensive approach. “They make the adjustments during the game.”
Box scores are telling, but sometimes don’t tell all.
That goes for any sport, but it’s especially true in soccer. Recently, teams in the mid-Hudson Valley, like the Rhinebeck girls and the Arlington and Millbrook boys, have been playing superb defense on the pitch.
The Arlington boys have done everything to exemplify the point, as the Admirals have only allowed the other team to score once on them all year.
Kautsky, Wilson lead Arlington in 1-0 win over Ketcham
Against John Jay on Sept. 28, the Admirals used Max Giancarlo, Andrew Povall, John Furcick and Will Kautsky to virtually block the Patriots from coming anywhere near goalie Ryan Wilson. As a result, goalie Ryan Wilson only made two saves to preserve the 2-0 shutout.
Strangely enough, John Jay became the first team to score on Arlington three days after they were unable to get near the goalie; Arlington had given up an own goal to Bethlehem of Albany on Sept. 19, but still won 2-1.
“That’s what you want, to keep a zero on the board,” Arlington coach Craig Sanborn said. “They’ve bought into our system of ‘defend first’ and defense can definitely create offense. It’s something I’ve preached for a long time. Offense will come and go sometimes, but defense can be a consistent thing.”
Grande has the same mentality. In fact, he made the point and posed the question:
“The goals will come. It’s just, can we keep the other team out of the net?”
Lockdown defense was on display Sept. 23 at Millbrook, when the Blazers boys shut out John A. Coleman Catholic, 3-0. Goalie Juan Cabrera needed to make only one save, because the Blazers’ defense maintained possession and stuck to its plan — the diamond.
“I like the diamond, but it depends on the personnel each year,” Millbrook coach Kyle Shoemaker said. The 4-4-2 diamond formation is a configuration in which the players in the midfield organize in a diamond shape, while four defenders line up straight behind them in the backfield.
For Millbrook, Zeke Kopilak provided some of the defense that kept a workload off Cabrera in front of the net.
“He’s one of those tough-as-nails kind of kids that reads the ball well,” Shoemaker said of Kopilak. “He plays so balanced.”
Balance is another facet of the Rhinebeck girls’ game. That and experience.
“We haven’t really been peppered that much,” Grande said. “We don’t really worry about our defense getting beat. They’ve been playing defense with each other for a few years now. It’s second nature to back each other up.”
A.J. Martelli: [email protected], 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports