The Blue Jays soccer team fell 2-0 to Wichita Home School Thursday at Al Simpler Stadium.
Despite the loss, coach Allan McFarland was pleased by the efforts put forth by his players.
“Much better than the previous game,” he said. “(I) saw some improvements. The energy was fantastic, that’s exactly what I want day in, day out. We had some offensive chances and the defense played great for the most part. But, we need to have a few of those slips (back).”
The Blue Jays opened the game with a strong defensive stance against the Wichita Home School Warriors. The team communicated ball and player location throughout the first-half of play. This allowed players from the opposite side of the field to move over to assist and allowed for better awareness of what was happening.
“One piece of communication, one yelling ‘hey drop, hey switch,’ can mean the difference between one pass, connecting more and getting a goal,” McFarland said. “I got on them on Wednesday when I told them, ‘if you are not going to communicate, nothings going to happen.’ It was a lot better for sure.”
The first goal by the Warriors came near the 27 minute mark when goal keeper Thomas Green came out to grab the ball when the Warrior striker juked and placed the ball into the net.
Defensively the Blue Jays were strong mid-field to box, clearing out numerous of times to slow down any momentum that the Warriors attempted to relish on.
“I’m very impressed with how they played,” McFarland said. “Once again, we can always improve. The defense did great, for about 70 minutes. You have to go the complete 80. Those two little slip ups, they (Wichita) finished them. That’s why we kind of ended up on the losing column tonight.”
The first-half also featured Green telling his defensive teammate, “we run through them,” as a way to help motivate them. In the second-half he knocked out an attempt on goal left and finished outside of the lines. When he got back to his feet he signaled to the Warriors offense to “feed me more” as his confidence level increased as the night progressed.
Offensively, the Blue Jays were hesitant and slow to react to openings made available to them by a tiring Warrior defense. Junction City finished with a handful of quality attempts on goal.
Just over the 45-minute mark, five minutes into the second-half, senior Bryce Wareman found himself the lone player in blue in the corner in two-on-one situation. Great footwork and ball control allowed him to get pass the players giving him an opportunity with a kick on the goal. The shot missed right erasing his efforts.
Late in the half, the Blue Jays looked different. The speed and heads up play disappeared, something that McFarland was unsure of what happened.
“I’m not sure exactly what it was tonight,” he said. “I think that maybe we were a little tired at points, making subs and the ball was constantly in play — those things happen. I didn’t think it was a huge deal. We kind of came back towards the end of the night and had a few opportunities, but didn’t put it away.”
With around five minutes to spare, the energy level came back up as the team moved the ball down the field aggressively.
With the loss, the Blue Jays prepare for their next match up Tuesday against Topeka-Highland Park at home.
“This is a game we won last year, one of the two we won,” McFarland said. “If we don’t come ready to play, we’ve talked about what can happen. We will have a good practice on Friday, meet for a little bit on Monday and then hopefully get ready for a win on Tuesday.”
Junction City has battled this type of adversity before and McFarland believes that his team is mentally ready for the challenges ahead as long as they continue to play one game at a time.
“The thing is, we know that we’ve been here before,” he said. “We’ve taken numerous losses before. It’s just next game, next game. You make the corrections and come back trying your best. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem with them mentally. We will be fine and ready to go on Tuesday.”