The 12U Kaw Valley Force Blue struggled to keep pace with the Colita Strikers during their opening game of the Kaw Valley Cup Tournament at Youth Sports Inc. With their anchor, Clint Chapman, the team of rookies struggled to focus less on the win and more on coming together as a team. The Strikers shut out the Blues, 10-0.
"These guys are all green," Valley Force Blue coach Kyle Glick said. "For all but two, this is only their second season playing in the premier league."
The morning did not start out well for the Lawrence premier team, with the team from Wichita securing an early lead and not letting up. It wasn't a pretty loss, either, with the first goal the Strikers landed an easy header.
The Striker offense had the Force bound and gagged for the majority of the first half breaking up a play led by Force Alec Petry as he approached the goal.
"The learning curve is steep," Glick said. "Every game last season was like this. We're not as quick as these guys."
The Force was able to keep the Strikers breathless, however, as they leaned into the team in yellow, the Strikers were forced to dump the ball out of bounds to keep it moving.
Chapman, one of the two premier veterans on the Force, danced around the field, switching his positions on the fly to help keep the Force moving the ball up the field. The defense built a brick wall around the goal for the rest of the half, keeping within striking distance by staying withing two goals.
Despite an increase in communication, the Force fell apart in the second half letting the Strikers throttle the scoreboard. Thaius Boyd was able to break up several key Striker plays, but it wasn't enough to get their own offense up to par.
The only thing stopping a complete massacre was the goaltending of Jackson Mercer. who still felt he let too many balls in to feel good about the game.
"I wasn't clicking," he said. "I didn't play as well as I know I can. I can do better."
The Force tried to staunch the bleeding by the end of the second half, but the game ended bitterly when a Striker player bounced the final goal off the right post into the back of the net.
Glick said the game was not indicative of his team's actual talent.
"There's only so much you can do," he said. "They haven't had the experience. They still show up and they still bust their butts. You have got to respect that."
Chapman wasn't happy with the loss, but he maintained a positive attitude.
"We passed well," Chapman said. "Our defense did really well, too."
In the second game of the tournament the Force lost a close match 1-0 to the BC Green Dragons and in their last match of tournament pool play they feel 4-1 to the BV KC Crush. Despite dropping all three the Force got some valuable experience playing against stuff competition.