by Eric Oslund
There were still a lot of unanswered questions for the Rogers boys soccer team when they took the field for their first game of the 2017 regular season on Thursday, Aug. 24, against Brainerd.
They still needed to figure out some of their defensive positions, who their long-term starters would be, how will they improve their communication, and, maybe most importantly, where were their goals going to come from this season? Some of those questions would be answered in that first game, but some remained even after the final whistle blew.
The Royals ended up losing that first contest 2-0, but head coach Chris Miller appeared to be positive afterwards. He said they were really treating that game like an extended practice, and that he now has a better idea of who the team’s starters are going to be and what positions fit his players the best.
Both goals came early in the first half, off a couple miscues by the Royals, but he was happy with the way his team responded after that.
“We had a lot more intensity, especially in the middle and the outsides,” Miller said of his team’s second-half performance. “We controlled the pace of the game a lot more, where we were letting them control the pace of the game the first half. Communication was a little better. It’s something we are still working on, and I hope it will get better later on here. Communication is a big one for me. Once we have that I think we’re good. But like I said, the intensity I thought got a lot better. I think the second half for us was a lot better than the first half. First half seemed like they were sleeping a little bit, second half we were competing, so that was good.”
Junior goaltender Thomas Morrison continued to come up with big saves in the second half, keeping the game close for his teammates, but the problem was they couldn’t get anything done on the offensive end.
The Royals had a few good looks, and got off some nice shots, but for the most part they seemed hesitant, which is something they haven’t seen in a while. Both Trevor Klink and Matt Carik were natural goal scorers for the Royals – they roamed the offensive end for the past three or four years, always wanting the ball and having that innate ability to put it away once they got it on their foot. But with Klink graduating in 2016, and Carik graduating last school year, the Royals are now left searching for that next offensive presence.
“Finishing, that’s what I told them too. I said, ‘How you win games is you take shots, you got to score goals,’” Miller explained. “We had a couple guys who wouldn’t pull the trigger, so we just go to next week and we work on finishing, and finishing, and finishing, and hopefully it comes.”
Things appeared to get a little better for the Royals in their second game the following day, as junior midfielder Björn Charles netted a goal in the first half against Fridley, but the team would still end up losing 2-1 when their opponents scored on a penalty kick to win it late.