by John Unrein
An unseasonably cool night was the setting at Moody Murray Stadium for the Grain Valley Boys Soccer program in their September 8th 4-0 loss to the visiting William Chrisman Bears. Javier Ortiz-Merino was responsible for the Bears shutout in goal. Ortiz-Merino’s finest save came 17 minutes into the second half on a shot from the Eagles Owen White. Grain Valley senior forward Pierson Jaynes set up the Eagles best chance to score with a well-placed pass to White on the attempt.
William Chrisman was able to secure two goals in each half while leading Grain Valley in shots on goal at seven to six. Grain Valley labored to get a good offensive turn on balls they possessed while trying to charge into the Bears half of the field. The majority of loose balls up for grabs on passes or long kicks went the way of William Chrisman.
Eagles Senior defenseman Nathan Manning and his counterpart, junior defenseman Gage Levell turned in strong efforts with their backs against their goal during the first half. Levell was responsible for three stops that resulted in possessions for his team going the other way. Levell was successful in mirroring the ball and the offensive player in front of him.
“Basically, its about confidence and who wants the ball more when you are in those situations. I focus on the ball because its going to take you where their foot wants it to go. Hard work in practice will pay off for you in getting stops,” Levell said.
“Tonight, was a tough loss. I believe personally the team could’ve worked harder. Communication on the field will be important for us to bounce back along with putting the effort into winning.”
Grain Valley midfielder Micah Siems was another bright spot for the Eagles in defeat. Siems was able to dribble the ball through traffic when needed as well as distributing well placed passes to his teammates. The result was offensive charges by the Eagles that came up short on the Bears side of the field.
“Our communication was down tonight. We weren’t talking enough. Our defense was there, but we didn’t have midfielders there enough to back them up. If we got the ball out, no one was there to win it. They (William Chrisman) worked harder than us,” Siems said.
“We tried to get momentum going the other way in our favor. A couple of well placed passes can get a team’s head up and going. It helps you keep control of the ball and thinking correctly. That will help us moving forward.”
Eagles Head Boys Soccer Coach Brett Lewis reflected on his team’s efforts versus their Suburban Conference opponent after the game. Lewis was quick to acknowledge the positives that came out of the contest as well as opportunities for improvement with his team moving forward.
“Our back four did pretty well tonight outside a few mental slips. (Nathan) Manning is a great player and a good senior leader. He works his tail off and is a good communicator. That’s why we like him at the center back,” Lewis said.
“Gage (Levell) works his tail off as well. He’s able to get up into the attack mix and is very fit. We like that about him. He allows us to attack from the outside with him playing the outside back. Those two guys are special to our program.”
“Owen White is a good player as well and we’re glad to have him. Last year he played on Sporting Academy’s team and he can break down a defense. When we get him in space at the ten spot as the attacking center mid we have some success. My wish tonight is that we would’ve gotten him the ball more.”
“Siems played well tonight also. He filled in as a defensive mid as that is not his normal spot. He facilitates possession really well by being tough and hard-nosed in what he does.”
Lewis concluded, “Our possession at times tonight was dismal. And really, we are going to be smaller, not as fast, and not as physical as every other team we play. That’s our part of our identity and a big reason why we have to solidly possess the ball.”
“We don’t have the success we would like when we don’t possess. Today, we got away from our identity in trying to play too direct over the top. Not to make excuses, but the wet turf didn’t help in that the ball skipped and rolled a lot faster than we are used to, which hurt possession. We will work on that though and find ways to overcome as we are a technical team.”
The Eagles took to the field again on Wednesday, September 9th in a 2-1 loss against the Blue Springs Wildcats. Grain Valley moves to 1-4 on the season. Grain Valley’s next home game will be against Oak Park on September 16th.