Berkeley’s soccer players were in action recently against our good friends at the Swiss school. This game was all in a good cause supporting the German Thai-ger charity organisation, who donate much time and money to many worthwhile causes around the country. There were many other teams in attendance, including the Austrian and German embassies who also put out their best staff for the days competition.
The school game featuring the home team of the Swiss against visitors Berkeley remained the highlight of the afternoon for many, and the game was watched by far the largest crowd of the day; with over 300 cheering on the teams.
The game was geared for fun and fair play, with an everyone wins attitude, and we can all be very proud of the way the players from both teams conducted themselves on and off the pitch.
Formalities over the ref took his place and it was on with the show. Official times were concluded, which had, two 15 minute halves with a short break for half time, and a constant change of subs.
Berkeley fielded a slightly larger team, but it could be seen from the outset that the Swiss had been under the watchful eyes of some professional coaches, and it was they who put on the most pressure in the opening minutes. Some quick one-two passes and a couple of strong individual performances saw them go close early on. Andy, the Berkeley goalkeeper was threatened by a multitude of shots, but he kept his cool and a clean sheet, putting in a real solid opening performance.
Berkeley adopted a spoiler defense in front of goal, and once they had the measure of the Swiss attacking speed, they finally managed to start opening up some holes.
Spencer and Didi got stuck in the tackles and began to feed the ball to Flora and Nina in the midfield. These two players supported by a super hard running Noah, were soon to reap the rewards of their cool heads and quick passing. Berkeley had a run of corners, and Babe also went close on two occasions after some good support work from Kong.
The crowd were getting involved and this truly started to bring out the best in the players.
After some fantastic early running and steady pressure Berkeley’s defense began lagging slightly and they were caught out with a swift Swiss break from their own box. Once again the Swiss found their touch, they moved through the Berkeley back line with ease and their center forward opened the scoring with a wicked low hard shot to the left inside post. The goalie was off balance and wrong footed; 1-0 to the home side, slightly against the run of play, but with excellent finishing. A huge cheer went up from the home crowd and the Berkeley team was left stunned. Undaunted our players picked themselves up and made their way slowly back to the center circle for another go.
Responding well despite being a goal down, Berkeley held onto possession and once again brought the ball into the right side of the field. Noah was the catalyst for Berkeley’s attacking play and was good at keeping hold of the ball in tight situations around the center or the pitch. Kong and Nina combined well, Elise was involved and it all paid off nicely as Noah, on a quick break from the wing, scored Berkeley’s opener with a fantastically weighted shot screaming in past the keeper.
1-1 was the score, but it didn’t stay like this for long. Coach Mike introduced some fresh legs in the guise of Berkeley’s ace striker Joey.
Rebecca, Nina and Kong were still dominating in the midfield together with some nifty quick passing and they managed to put Joey free on the run; catching the Swiss defense square. Joey put on some speed and, passed the last defender easily, going on a nice 30 meter solo run slipping the ball past the keeper with a slow flick of his right foot, a real piece of clinical finishing.
As the half time whistle sounded it was a 2-1 game to Berkeley. The crowd had grown to nearly 400 onlookers and the refreshment stands, bouncy castles and food stalls emptied out as everyone made their way over to the field for the beginning of the second half.
A good half time motivational pep talk was put on by coach Mike applauding our excellent sporting behaviour, and this set the tone for the second half of the game.
The Swiss showed up in the second half ready to go with a completely different back line and a new center half, and they had done their homework.
The new defensive set up with the Swiss girls played out well, and their center half was also a model player with much movement and reading the play. Some crunching tackles occurred and the game took on a more structured look. Marlena was now in goal for Berkeley and made 3 super saves to keep the Swiss at bay. Ta-ta was on, and was instrumental in pulling the ball out defense safely to our midfielders and forwards. Berkeley were soaking up the pressure well but would it last?
A break though, never looked on for Berkeley as the big girls at the back smothered attack after attack. The Swiss forwards got their breath back and after a series of near misses, finally opened the scoring in the second half with a goal line scramble, toe punting the ball into the back of the net after some more lose marking by the Berkeley defense. 2-2 was the score and the time of possession showed the Swiss were coming into their own, with 8 minutes of play on the clock, this game had been blown wide open. The win was there for the taking by either side.
Gap came on into the Berkeley backs and had a real settling effect on the team, he picked up loose balls, was fair in the tackles, and managed to find a host of our players on his clearances. Berkeley’s defense was talking, Babe was in the back line and clearing well. Flora, Kong and Nina were once again combining in the midfield, but the game swayed from end to end with no team having a real opportunity to score or having any marked advantage. Noah was double teamed and this helped to shut him down after his brilliant first half performance. Rebecca was left with no real through balls to help us get one into the net.
The Swiss had a run of corner kicks and Berkeley’s keeper Marlena pulled one out of the air with 3 Swiss strikers standing in the 6 yard box waiting to volley home. If Berkeley were going to save the game or even win it, they were going to have to do something that little bit special.
The Berkeley keeper saved again from another Swiss attack and played the ball out to Babe. He cleared through to Kong who made a sharp run at the defense. He was tackled well but Nina picked up the loose ball and fed it on to Rebecca, she turned and hit the ball towards the Swiss goal, it was well saved by the defense and set up a corner for Berkeley. There was some new belief in the team that a win was still on the cards. A corner was taken and flew into the box, a host of players went up to take the ball and it bounced off a couple of players before landing at Rebecca’s feet. Some quick thinking by the center forward gave her the chance to shoot from close range. The ball was deflected by a Swiss defender coming back at speed and this was enough to send the ball past the Swiss keeper and into the net for the Berkeley winner.The cheers went up from the Berkeley families and team box.
3-2 with minutes to go. Buoyed on by their late strike the Berkeley defense held firm for the closing minutes and as the final whistle went Berkeley had won their first away game of the season.
It was a classic team performance held together by great leadership and discipline from the top. The sportsmanship shown by our players was exemplary and our congratulations go out to all those who turned up on the day. A big thanks to all our parents who showed up to support the players, and we would like to offer a huge thank you for the Swiss school for inviting us to come over in the first place and to experience a wonderful day out for our students. the organization and catering was all first class.