Wading through the Two Rivers

I’ve really got to stop with the pun headlines.

I spent some time at the Two Rivers semifinals last night. Of course, you all knew that – having read my story in today’s paper.

Here are a few observations that didn’t make it into the article:

1. Shuffling the deck can lead to bad hands– South View coach Jeremiah Mattingly had to field a makeshift back line Tuesday night, thanks to the absence of two starting outside backs.

He moved some midfielders and forwards around, and for the first half, played what can best be described as an 8-0-2. There was at least 20 yards, and sometimes more, between the forwards and everyone else. As you might imagine, counter attacking was a problem.

The second half was better, as the Tigers played more of a 5-4-1. The new look paid immediate dividends when Kristin Madison, playing alone up top, held the ball up for Cassandra Serje. She then hit Demise Higgins with a pretty pass on the wing and Higgins turned it into a Tiger goal.

2. A flair for the dramatic –Terry Sanford forward Theresa O’Sullivan reminds me a bit of Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo. Not because she crashes Ferraris or falls down with impunity, but because she drifts over to both sides in search of the ball and, once she finds it, throws in a few step-overs to draw praise from fans and scorn from opposing defenders. That, of course, can lead to…

3. The rough stuff –Pine Forest’s Blair Elmore drew a straight red for her challenge on O’Sullivan in the 40th minute. Both players went up for a ball when Elmore, with her arms on O’Sullivan’s shoulders, appeared to sling her down to the turf. It’s worth pointing out that O’Sullivan was fouled about 30 seconds earlier near the Bulldog bench and, from where I sat, it looked like some words were exchanged there.

Trojan fans were irate at the decision, but when you make no play on the ball and create that kind of collision – it’s violent conduct. The referee has no choice.

It’s worth pointing out that, since she was disqualified and not ejected, Elmore can play in Pine Forest’s postseason game.

4. A game that matters –The playoff seeds are set, so when Terry Sanford and Lumberton take the field Thursday night, only pride and the tournament title will be on the line.

The Pirates are 0-4 in title games since 2002, and three of those losses have come in the last few years. Since 2006, all of those losses have been to the Bulldogs, and all of them have been by a single goal.

Chatting with Lumberton coach Kenny Simmons after the match, I got the sense that intensity and motivation won’t be an issue for them.

Let’s hear from some coaches. And if you listen to them all, you’ll notice that I use the word “obviously” far too much in interviews:

Jeremiah Mattingly interview

Kenny Simmons, part one

Kenny Simmons, part two

Pine Forest’s Isaac Rancour

Terry Sanford’s Bryan Madej

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