The first competition weekend of the fall 2016 season is in the books for the FC Wisconsin - Madison 2004 (U13) and 2005/2006 (U11/12) teams. Both teams competed in the Waunakee Cup, just outside of Madison, as a good local event to get some games early in the season. The games provided a great opportunity to evaluate where the players are in their development, have some fun, and to allow more focused training planning for the coming weeks.
Even wet and muddy weather couldn't stop the U13s from putting together hundreds of passes in each game they played, swinging the ball from one side of the field to the other and patiently playing through the thirds of the field as they created dozens of chances each half. The spatial awareness and positioning of the players, and their insight to individually find pockets of space to keep possession were impressive, especially considering it was the first 11v11 experience for the players. Unfortunately, after two performances with more than 90% of the possession of the ball and multiple goals, the team didn't get to play their third game because the fields were shut down and the event was cancelled on Sunday because of the field conditions. Despite the elimination of the third game, the weekend provided a great measuring stick of how much progress the players have made in their first year in the FC Wisconsin training methodology, and will raise expectations even higher for the future.
The U11/12 team entered the event after only 2 weeks in the club, and as their first ever 9v9 experience. Even with only 4 training sessions in the FC Wisconsin methodology under their belt, the new insight shown by the players, and the improvement in thought processes even from game 1 to game 2, was impressive. The young players showed a new understanding of how to move for each other, how to look for and identify defensive pressure, and how to try and recieve the ball in various situations. The increasing confidence and bravery the players showed in determination to keep possession - individually and collectively - was a sign they were embracing the first step in becoming smart soccer players. The future is certainly bright, and the next few weeks will see massive leaps in ability and understanding from these young ones!
"Watching the U13s dominate possession so much, and continually finding ways out of small spaces to create chances, was really exciting," said coach Christina Toda. "I remember the first event last year that this team played together, after only a few weeks of training in the club, and the difference in 12 months in their understanding and decision-making is phenomenal."
"Having a new young group in the U11/12 team, and seeing the Madison program grow, is a lot of fun," said coach Hayley Siegel. "Not only is there now a larger presence and sense of community within these two teams, but there are now some role models for the U11/12s training right next to them. Beyond that, having some of our U16 and U17 players come out to watch both teams play this weekend shows that these players are part of something a lot more impactful than a regular youth soccer club."