January 18, 2013 - Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) - Anaheim Bolts
ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Anaheim Bolts face a pair of crucial road matches this weekend, as they take on the Tacoma Stars in back-to-back meetings on Saturday and Sunday at the Pacific Sports Center . While the Bolts look to extend their current win streak to five, their direct rivals for a PASL postseason berth, Turlock Express, take on the Mexico Toros at home on Friday night. Both Anaheim and Turlock currently hold a 6-5 record as they vie for the second of only two Pacific Division playoff spots.
Orange County 's professional indoor soccer team picked up its third straight victory a week ago by defeating winless expansion side Sacramento Surge 15-5 at the Anaheim Convention Center 's Bolts Arena. The home side gave up the game's opening goal but recovered quickly and treated its fans to some highly entertaining attacking soccer.
"Overall, I think we did pretty well, midfielder Jayro Martinez assessed. "We were able to get into a rhythm, connect passes and score a lot of goals. That said, we may have started a bit overconfident because Sacramento had lost all its previous games. When they actually put up a good fight, I think that surprised some of us a bit. If we had connected more passes from the get-go, we probably could have had control of the game even faster."
While acknowledging his side's slow start, Head Coach Jeff Tackett also echoed Martinez ' overall positive analysis.
"The goal was to take the opponent out of the game quickly," he offered. "Obviously Sacramento scoring first wasn't part of that plan, but after that we settled down and started getting more numbers into the attack. That allowed us to whip quite a few balls across the box for easy tap-ins at the back post. That was one of our main objectives.
"For the most part, I'd say it was 'mission accomplished.' With everything we had been working on in training, it was good to have a chance to implement all of that in a competitive setting, where the speed of play is higher. Now we have to build on what we achieved. I feel like it can really help us throughout the rest of the season."
Tackett, who boasts a 3-1 record since taking over the reigns in late December, has been working to upgrade his side's performance in key areas, one of which he identified as continuing to require improvement.
"We still need to keep working on our discipline and on getting back into our defensive shape once we lose the ball," he said "There was a stretch of the game in which we gave Sacramento a little too much time and didn't close down on them quickly enough. If we can avoid stretches like that, I think we're making tremendous progress."
The Bolts will have a chance to take the next step in internalizing the new tactics introduced by Tackett when they take on a Tacoma Stars side that is in need of a win streak of its own if it hopes to have any shot at reaching the PASL postseason. Following four straight defeats, the Stars currently sit in fourth place of the Pacific Division standings, with a record of 3-6.
"They're better than their record shows," cautioned Tackett. "They put a lot of pressure on you and try to force mistakes. When they're successful, they know how to take advantage of that to build momentum, which they proved by scoring three in a row at one point in the match against us. That's why we have to be fully focused all the time and always try to come up with a strong response."
The Tacoma attack is led by the top points trio of Facundo DiPasquale (7 goals/11 assists), Mark Lee (11/6) and pro soccer veteran Ian Weinberg (11/4), while Jeff Bader and Derek Woodworth anchor the team's backline. Head Coach Joe Waters is a former Irish youth international who has played professionally for Leicester City and Grimsby Town as well as for the legendary Tacoma Stars MISL side of the 1980s and 1990s.
The two teams met for the first time this season on January 5, the Bolts defeating the visitors from Washington State by the closest of margins, 8-7.
" Tacoma is a very fit team and they run a lot for each other," Anaheim midfielder Martinez said. "We have to be aware of that and control the tempo by completing passes. In addition, they're at home, so I expect them to be pumped up. That means we really need to be prepared and match their energy from the start.
"We're definitely aware that they're dangerous, given our close result against them two weeks ago. When a game is decided by one or two goals, that makes finishing your chances absolutely crucial, so we need to be very effective in front of the net."
The hectic schedule leading up to the pair of contests will present an additional challenge to the 26-year-old and his mates, as the Bolts embark on their trip Saturday morning and will spend several hours on a plane and bus before checking into the team hotel and taking the field shortly thereafter.
"Travel is a big factor for any pro athlete because it takes a major toll on your body," Martinez offered. "When you've been sitting in a seat for several hours, you definitely feel it in your legs. So once you arrive, it's important to take full advantage of the time you have to prepare for the match by getting some rest and going through the proper warm-ups."
In wrapping up his preview of the crucial back-to-back meetings with the Stars, Head Coach Tackett continued applying his observations from the previous match to the task ahead.
"Against Sacramento, we were trying to do some things that I believe will be important for the upcoming games as well," he said. "I was happy with the way we spread them out by moving the ball around, and that will again be crucial now because I believe we're quicker than Tacoma with our passing.
"That said, they're a bit stronger and able to muscle us off the ball, so we absolutely have to keep moving it around until there's a chance to use our technical skills and beat a defender one-on-one. That will give us a man advantage, which makes it a lot easier to find an open player and get those simple back-post goals. We started seeing all that against Sacramento and have continued to work on it in training. Now is the time to prove it can work on the road as well.
Anaheim takes on hosts Tacoma Stars on Saturday, January 19, and Sunday, January 20. The team returns home on Saturday, February 2, for its big home clash with rivals and defending PASL champions San Diego Sockers. Tickets for the 7 p.m. PT fixture start at $12 and may be purchased through Ticketmaster or the Anaheim Convention Center Arena box office. Parking is free. For more information, please call the Bolts front office at 714-321-9898 or the Anaheim Convention Center Arena at 714-765-8980.