Though they lost to a pair of Barrie-area teams in a regional tournament last week, two Bracebridge boys soccer teams left with something much more valuable.
During the Georgian Bay Secondary Schools Association championships in Barrie on Thursday, Oct. 25, the Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School’s junior and senior boys soccer teams fell just short of victory with scores of 5-4 and 2-0, respectively. Despite their losses, the coaches of both teams say they were more proud of the fact the boys learned to play strategically as a well-coordinated team over the course of the season.
In particular, the coaches say players on both teams have adapted well to a more teamwork-oriented style of play centred on increasing possession of the ball, rather than focusing on one-player rushes and hockey-style “dump-and-chase” tactics.
“A lot of them play hockey and they get that idea,” said junior boys coach Stuart Hodson. “Possession is more important than trying to get 50 shots on net that don’t go in.”
Senior boys coach Jason Sprathoff said the Bracebridge boys fought hard in their bout against a team from St. Peter’s Catholic Secondary School, but were worn out by their competition over the course of the game.
“They played better than us over time, and they got their goals where they needed to,” he said.
Similarly, the juniors made a team from St. Joseph’s High School pay dearly for every inch of ground they gained.
“They were down 3-0, and then came back to tie it up 4-4,” said Hodson. “They lost in the last five minutes.”
Though both soccer teams were traditionally focused more on shot volume, Sprathoff is proud that the boys got as far as they did through picking up lessons in teamwork.
“Soccer isn’t a game where you can rush all the time,” he said. “They fought hard to develop their team game.”