Truman boys soccer coach Manny Tovar said one of the most difficult things for his team to do is keeping the same level of intensity at the beginning of the second half as it does the entire first half.
That’s something his Patriots struggled with Wednesday in a Suburban Large Seven matchup with Liberty.
The Blue Jays scored two goals within the first 10 minutes of the second half as they earned a 2-0 shutout at Truman Stadium.
“You’re body just cools down at halftime,” Tovar said. “We told the guys, one team is going to come out ready to go and one team is going to come out slow. I guess we were the team that took a while to get our legs under us in the second half.”
Both teams were about equal in possession in the first half as both teams missed shots that were just wide or over the goal. In Truman’s case, all game long it had breakaway opportunities taken away because of offsides calls from the officials. One was a controversial call late in the second half when Truman was trying to climb back in it. Senior forward Jose Linares had a breakaway opportunity and was one-on-one with Liberty goalkeeper Austin Nelson but was called offsides.
“(The Blue Jays) do a lot of man marking,” Tovar said, “so we wanted to take players out and get them to chase. We had a hard time because once Jose (Calderon) had the ball in the middle, Liberty would step up and we’d still run straight.”
After Liberty dominated possession for the first 37 minutes of the second half, Truman finally started creating chances late, including a short-range header from senior Isaac Botello, but Nelson was right there to make the save. About a minute later, a free kick from junior Esteban Herrera sailed a few feet above the crossbar.
Liberty got its first goal in the 42nd minute when Will Sweatnam sent a cross inside the 18-yard box after a free kick and Noah Senthavy finished the opportunity for a 1-0 edge.
Senthavy scored the second goal in the 47th minute when he received a pass from Quinton Welch.
“We’re just a small team,” Tovar said. “We’re short and their opportunities were from free kicks and throw-ins. It was hard for us because they’re just big and they are able to win those balls.”
Liberty coach Tom Rottjakob said that his team had to get used to playing on a field that is more narrow than their own, but they eventually did and dominated possession.
“We’re used to playing on wider turf field and we struggle on narrower ones like this,” Rottjakob said. “We started to relax and didn’t force it in the second half. We decided if we knock the ball around a little bit, we will be much better off.”
Despite the loss, the Patriots (3-4, 1-1 Large Seven) have improved since starting the season 1-2 following the Raytown South Tournament, Tovar said, and that’s something to build on.
“You saw today that we were able to move the ball,” he said. “We caused them a few problems. We had a good game against Liberty North in the game before. We’re on a little bit of a high rise.”