From left, Downtown United Soccer Club coaches Kenichi Yatsuhashi and Clive Stultz talk strategy with goalie Maryanne Dorado and fullback Krystal Scott
In a warm-up, Busters try to split Fusion defense
By Judith Stiles
After taking first place in the Beekman Cup Soccer Tournament in early October, the 14-year-old girls from the Downtown United Soccer Club became accustomed to playing in a torrential downpour, as they began to enjoy the muddy fields that turned an ordinary slide tackle into a sloppy adventure. They had a blast and it toughened them up, reported one of the parents, questioning why fields in the Bronx, Westchester and Cosmopolitan Leagues were all shut down, once again, last Saturday.
The decision on Friday to cancel the entire game slate for the Westchester League had players wondering if that was a bad call, because by Sunday, the sun shone brightly and the puddles had evaporated. Although all games were cancelled by the league bosses for girls who compete in the Westchester League, Pier 40 was open after all. So the U-14 girls team called the DUSCBUSTERS challenged their chief rivals The Fusion to a game anyway. Play on! one of them shouted as she ran on the field before the game. Because it was a friendly, the match did not count for league standings, but everyone still played by the rules, with a licensed referee, Coach Kenichi Yatsuhashi of DUSC. Coach Clive Stultz stepped in as substitute coach for the DUSCBUSTERS, as he so successfully had done at the Beekman Cup.
Some of the faces on the DUSCBUSTERS have changed since last spring, and everyones ball skills have improved tremendously. Instead of the defenders randomly booting the ball forward, they controlled the ball, looked up and made smart passes, thanks to the expert coaching of Yatsuhashi, who is their new coach this season.
I think the reasons why these girls are farther behind boys of the same age is because they did not learn fundamental soccer skills by age 10, noted Yatsuhashi, who has a vast experience and knowledge of the game, as head of the licensing program for coaches in Manhattan.
Also, bringing in new players from Queens has taught the girls how to play more aggressively, which is great, remarked Lynda Zimmerman, the DUSCBUSTERS team manager. New players Brigette Barreto, Erika Orellana and Ebelyse Guaranda commute from Queens to Manhattan just to train with Yatsuhashi and be part of this team. These three learned to play soccer with boys who taught them never to be timid on the field, while Guaranda learned some fancy footwork from her grandfather Alberto Guaranda, Sr., a legendary star player from Flushing Meadow, Queens.
In the first 15 minutes of the game, DUSC controlled the ball well and dominated. However, five minutes later, DUSC had a defensive breakdown, when a quick cross from The Fusions left winger was popped into the back of the DUSC net, putting The Fusion up 1-0. Less than five minutes later, DUSC forward Tessa Decandido answered back, when on breakaway she confidently approached The Fusion goalie and then booted it over her head to tie the score. There was a tense moment late in the first half when Fusions speedy midfielder, Loyola, dribbled around several DUSCBUSTERS, heading for the goal, but since she didnt look up, she lost the ball to DUSCs Stephanie Ibarra, who clipped the ball away from Loyola with aplomb.
With a 1-1 tie at halftime, Coaches Kenichi and Stultz did not waste their minutes with motivational pep talks. Rather, it was all business with excellent and pointed instruction on what the girls should be doing on the field. Dont hesitate, because that one second that you do, you will lose the 50/50 ball, said Stultz, giving them a great tip.
Only four minutes into the second half, Fusion forward Zoe Loveman dribbled toward DUSC goalie Marianne Dorado, drawing her out of the net. Facing the striker alone, Dorado had to make a split-second decision on how to stop the shot. Even veteran goalies sometimes hesitate as Dorado did. Experience and good trainers will help her next time, because this rookie definitely has the athleticism to handle moments like this. The ball got around 10 of her teammates before it got past her for a quick goal, putting The Fusion up 2-1.
Notably in the second half, DUSC defender Krystal Scott played hard, as she never panicked in defense. She controlled the ball and made several accurate passes to her midfielders. DUSC forward Robin Giordani skillfully dribbled around The Fusion sweeper, trying to score, but Fusion goalie Sara Kotcher made a great save, as she did again when DUSC forward Jessica Figueroa uncorked a laser shot from 25 yards out.
DUSCs Nicole Stark played a solid center midfield, working well with DUSCs dependable right midfielder Annie Allaire and star teammate Karen Jimenez. In the last five minutes of the game, Dana Krause, all long legs due to an incredible growth spurt, made a hard shot on goal from the 20-yard line, but this too proved not to be the equalizer, and the game ended 2-1, in favor of The Fusion.
Caitlin Iglehart, one of the more petite players on DUSC, played a crafty game, demonstrating solid ball skills, while new players Janaya Hunt and Jenna Smith are welcome additions to the team with their willingness to play hard and give it their all.
Soon the DUSCBUSTERS will play the official makeup game against The Fusion, vying for first place, but this time Yatsuhashi will be on the sidelines coaching again, perhaps busting the dust underfoot as he works his magic with the team.