By Steve Hunt, special contributor for USYouthSoccer.org
In a match filled with a number of scoring opportunities for both sides involved, it was Cobb FC 92 Premier that came away with a 1-0 win over Manhattan Phoenix in the Under-16 Boys division.
Cobb's only tally came in the 55th minute when Michael Derbecker scored to make it 1-0. His goal came after a corner kick that was taken by Jamal Keene. His kick bounced around before landing at Derbecker's feet and he tucked it inside the left corner of the goal for the lead.
"I brought it down," Derbecker said. "I knew we hadn't had any shots all game and just wanted to hit it. I knew that if I had a chance to get a goal that I had to try to give us a lift."
But this match really could have gone either way. In the 28th minute, the Phoenix nearly drew first blood. With the Cobb 'keeper drawn away from the goal, Jeffrey Horn had a look at an open net and took a shot. That was before Jonathan Nelson came into the picture to block his shot and keep the match a scoreless affair.
And in the 48th minute, the Phoenix got another bad break when a long-range shot by Colm Dillane just missed going into the top part of the goal. Dillane's effort from the left flank instead hit the very bottom of the crossbar.
Cobb FC also weathered several chances in front of their goal just before time expired but once the final whistle had been blown, they were happy with the end result.
"It was good,"" Derbecker said. "We're just all coming back together after high school season. This is the first time we have all played together in a while."
For his coach, Steve Gummer, this one boiled down to a tale of two distinctly different halves of soccer.
"I thought that in the first half, we were under a lot of pressure from the Phoenix," he said. "We got penned in a little bit in the back but weathered the storm in our first 10 minutes. Then, we got into our game of passing and had a lot of good possession. We worked the ball across the back really well, got it into the midfield and back. We dragged them around for a while with several opportunities in the first half. I think we were the better team in the first half."
The teams went to the break scoreless but Gummer saw the complexion of the entire match change in the final 40 minutes.
"In the second half, they (the Phoenix) came on strong," he said. "We went to a 4-2-3-1 because of a lack of numbers on the bench. We really defended well in midfield. We sat a little deeper and soaked up their pressure. They never got in behind us and we were able to counter through our three-man midfield. We scored a good goal off a corner and could have had two or three more. We dodged a couple of bullets late in the game. I think 3-1 would have been a fair result but we're very pleased."
Derbecker only saw one thing that Cobb FC needs to improve on before they face Slammers FC at 12:00 PM tomorrow on Field No. 3. "We probably just need to keep the ball better," he said. "We need to do that to be able to get a feel for each other again since it's been so long (since we last played together as a team)."
The Phoenix will also next hit the pitch tomorrow at noon when they face Texans FC 92 Red on Field No. 1.