BY JEFF FALK
PALMYRA – The psyche of maturing student-athletes is fascinating.
For instance, can insecurities lead to over confidence? Perhaps.
What we know is that the correct level of confidence can produce consistency.
On a rainy Saturday morning at the In The Net Sports Complex, the Palmyra girls’ soccer team’s confidence did not meet its level of energy, during a disappointing 1-0 non-league setback at the hands of Cocalico. Despite some fairly good scoring chances on both sides, the Eagles tallied the only goal of the contest early in the second half.
With the outcome, the Cougars fell to 4-3 overall. Cocalico improved to 2-4-1 on the fall.
After going 4-11 last year, Palmyra has already matched that win total this season. With 16 goals scored to date, the Cougars have also already surpassed last year’s total in that category.
“When we have games like this, the goal becomes to bounce back,” said Palmyra rookie head coach Tim Grinstead. “We talk about the ‘next play’ mentality. They (his players) were feeling over-confident. Coming into today, they felt like they were on top of the world.
“It’s a good start, but we’ve got a lot of tough teams moving forward,” continued Grinstead. “The girls are excited about where they’re at, but they want more. We’re definitely improving, but it’s still a work in progress. We really wanted this win today.”
For the most part, the match was evenly contested. But Cocalico did enjoy the better of the play in the second half.
Following a score-less first 40 minutes, junior forward Kaia Martz got the Eagles on the scoreboard, with the goal that would prove to be the game-winner.
Ten minutes and 39 seconds into the second half, Martz out manevered the Cougar defense for a long ball sent into the box by teammate Katelyn Geib. Once she had extracted the ball from a Palmyra defender, Martz used her right foot to blast a shot past Cougar net-minder Bailey Corrigan.
“That should be a home-ball right away,” said Grinstead. “It should’ve been played back to the keeper. If we hold it too long, it becomes a dangerous play. We’re trying to win balls early. We let it bounce too much. It’s a hard play to make.
“Our defense was up and down,” Grinstead continued. “They (his players) played well defending the goal. We’re working on stepping to the ball. Overall, our defense has been playing at a pretty high level. We’re trying to fix a few little things.”
If Cocalico owned the second half, then the first belonged to Palmyra.
Both sides hit the crossbar early, but the Cougars spent a good portion of the first half buzzing around the Cocalico net. Yet they couldn’t crack the Eagles’ active goalie, freshman Paige Myer.
“We normally connect a lot of passes in-a-row,” said Grinstead. “Today we were connecting two passes and then hitting the ball long. We shouldn’t be trying to kick long balls all the time. What the girls said is that they felt too confidence coming in. Now we have some work to do.
“We’ve been keeping time of possession on our side,” added Grinstead. “We’ve had a lot of shots. We’ve been scoring a lot of goals. We’ve been sharing more than we did today. We’ve earned an opportunity for resiliency.”
On the final stat sheet, the Eagles out shot the Cougars 14-13. Palmyra posted a 9-0 advantage in corner kicks.
“For us, we want to keep establishing a high level of play,” said Grinstead. “We want to keep winning. We want to keep the energy high. For us, it’s about being consistent. We want to come out the same way, every game.
“Today was not our best,” continued Grinstead. “We just came out a little flat. I thought we picked it up in the second half. We possess the ball better than we did today.”
Yesterday marked Game 7 of the Cougars’ 18-game schedule. Palmyra was situated ninth in the early District Three Class AAA power rankings.
“I think we’re past the transition,” said Grinstead. “We’re now more in the phase of asking questions. We can grow together. I think they’re (his players) used to me and my style. And I’m getting used to them.”
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