Anaheim Faces Next Must-Win Match against Tacoma
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Having downed the visiting Mexico Toros 12-8 in their final PASL regular season fixture of 2012, the Anaheim Bolts find themselves in desperate need of another win in Saturday's home clash with the Tacoma Stars. Trailing second-place Turlock Express, which has surprised some with a strong 6-3 record, in the Pacific Division standings, the 4-5 Bolts can ill afford another slip-up if they are to reach the postseason for the first time in their existence.
After showing some promise in their first match under Intermin Head Coach Jeff Tackett, a road defeat to defending champions San Diego Sockers on December 22, Anaheim delivered five days later with the convincing win over the visitors from south of the border.
"After the San Diego game, we obviously needed a win," midfielder Tommy Antunovich offered. "That was our main goal, regardless of whether or not it might be scrappy. We're very happy that we accomplished that goal and were able to end 2012 on a positive note. Now we have to try and carry that momentum into 2013 and make the New Year a much more successful one."
Naturally, Head Coach Tackett provided a more detailed analysis of the crucial victory over the Toros.
"It was a typical Bolts game," he said. "Our transition to offense after winning the ball was great but we continued to struggle with our defensive transition. When we lose possession, we still need to do a better job of challenging right away and not letting the ball bounce around, and I also want to see us get back into our defensive shape more quickly. That's the only way to avoid being hit on the counter-attack, as we have been too many times."
Tackett was also critical of his side's mentality in the game's closing quarter. After scoring the period's first goal for a commanding 12-5 lead, the hosts allowed their opponents to regain confidence via three unanswered tallies.
"I thought it was a great learning experience for the guys, especially for those with limited indoor experience," the Anaheim Head Coach offered. "It served to demonstrate that in this game, it doesn't matter whether you're up by six or seven goals. Once the other team catches a little bit of momentum, there's always a way back.
"It was obvious that when we were up 12-5 in the final quarter, our guys' mindset was, 'We got this,' and so they took their foot off the gas. I'm actually glad Mexico punished us by scoring three goals, because we still got the win but were also taught a valuable lesson."
The Bolts players will have a chance to demonstrate just how much they have learned in Saturday's clash with a Tacoma side that is desperate for points after dropping three straight and falling to 3-5 on the season. The Stars attack is led by the top points trio of Facundo DiPasquale (6 goals/11 assists), Mark Lee (10/6) and pro soccer veteran Ian Weinberg (10/4), 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. As the man in charge of Saturday's Bolts opponent, Waters' task will be to successfully counter the new tactics implemented by Anaheim Head Coach Tackett.
"The new strategy and 2-1-2 formation have definitely benefited us," assessed Bolts midfielder Antunovich. "Even against San Diego, we had the better interplay during significant stretches. That transferred over into the Mexico game and allowed us to jump out to a pretty big lead. It looks like the changes might really work for us."
Orange County's professional indoor soccer team takes on the Tacoma Stars on January 5 at 7 p.m. PT. Tickets for the crucial PASL clash 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.
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