Pure love of soccer was the name of the game Saturday at Youth Sports Inc., and the 12U Kaw Valley Force White team came out building and keeping a comfortable distance from the Blue Valley Stars Barcelona team, eventually running away with the win, 6-2.
Kaw Valley Force White coach Mauro Nobre said his team was much more relaxed than their last game in which they lost 4-1 to Salina Legend. This relaxation, he said, was the key to their win.
"The main thing we did right is intangible," he said. "The last game was hard and we lost it. We made some really goofy decisions and we weren't relaxed."
Nobre wanted his players to hit the field and do nothing but have fun. They weren't to focus on winning. They weren't to throw fits if they lost.
"I told them to have fun and just play," he said. "I told them, 'I want to see smiles. Enjoy each others company.'"
And enjoy each other's company they did, taking an early lead against the visiting Stars right off the bat. Zachary Gay fired up the Force with a lazy goal through the legs of the Stars' goaltender.
Zachary Westefeld burned their second shot straight into the net, putting the Force head 2-0. Westefeld carried his team on his back for the majority of the first half, landing shot after shot and leaving the Stars with stupefied and frustrated looks on their faces.
The Stars put themselves back in the game with a goal before the end of the half with the Force holding a commanding three-goal advantage.
With cheers and laughter, the Force took the field for the second half as the Stars rushed out to try and catch up. Despite this spike in energy, the second half began much like the first with the Force completely controlling the ball and the game.
"They're certainly enjoying themselves," Nobre said. "They're getting a little goofy, but I'll cut them a little slack. After all, that's what I told them to do."
The second half didn't see as much action on the boards as the first. The ball floated in the neutral zone for a large amount of time, seeing little of the grass either in the offensive or defensive zones.
Chris Reusch was fed the ball to set the net on fire for the Force. The stars managed one more goal before the final whistle was blown, but it was too little, too late. The Force hit the sky in jubilation over their win.
Center midfielder Jake Walter said the majority of his game was mental.
"I had to work on passing it," he said. "That and not losing my temper."
Left defenseman Johannes Reiber was happy with the results of playing a more relaxed game.
"We got a lot of shots off," he said. "We did really, really well."
The Force carried the momentum from the win into their next game where they defeated LASC Blue Magic 2-0, but ended up falling just shy of having enough points to advance to the semifinals of the Kaw Valley Cup.