After allowing four goals to McPherson last week, Rose Hill boys soccer coach Jerry Treat made defensive changes. The payoff was obvious when the Rockets defeated played Maize South Monday 2-0 on Monday.
Rather than playing with a four-defender system, Rose Hill took advantage of its midfielders as defensive players, keeping at least nine players behind the ball at all times.
“I brought Alek (Santo) back to the center defense and I made some adjustments in the defensive midfield, and that made all the difference,” Treat said. “The two games we lost we had too many guys pushing up the field, we weren’t holding our shape well in the back, and they were counterattacking on us, and that’s what we had to fix.”
Maize South dominated possession for the game, but Rose Hill’s defense shut down the majority of Maize South’s serious goal scoring opportunities. Although the Mavericks outshot Rose Hill, the Rockets used counter attacks to score both goals.
Never miss a local story.
“I thought we were a much better team as far as keeping the ball, shots on goal,” Maize South coach Rey Ramirez said. “The ball was in their defensive half for 90 percent of the game, but it was that 10 percent where they came down and had a couple of goal-scoring opportunities, and they put them away whereas we didn't.”
It wasn’t until 11:20 remaining in the first half when Rose Hill took its first shot. Only 1:14 later, Rose Hill’s Christian Helmke set up another opportunity with a long throw in from the left of the goal, and took a cross when the ball came loose from in front of the goal. Alek Santo put his head on the cross to score.
“Momentumwise I think (Maize South) contained most of the first half, and once we got that goal they put their heads down, we got momentum,” Helmke said. “We came out second half pumped up and ready to play and we finished it.”
With 1:13 remaining, Kenton Weber sent a through ball to forward Czyz Taylor who took a long shot from the right of the goal and scored on the far post to seal the win.
Maize South was the home team, but because the game was a make-up game it was played on Maize’s grass field instead of Maize South’s turf field. The combination of a smaller field and Rose Hill’s packed-in defense significantly reduced Maize South’s ability to finish shots.
The raised surface of the grass was also a difficult adjustment, as it put the ball on a tee, sending Maize South shots substantially over the top of the crossbar.
“I’ve seen it before, and I’m just so passionate about (soccer), I want to see good soccer, that’s my optimal goal, I don’t want to play kick ball,” Ramirez said. “I’m very happy with the performance and the kids, and I’m satisfied with what we did tonight.”
First half—Rose Hill, Santo (Helmke). Second half—Rose Hill, Taylor (Weber). Shots—Rose Hill, 2-3—5; Maize South, 4-3—7. Saves—Rose Hill, Stitcher 4-3—7; Maize South, Benter 1-2—3.