The Somerset High School boys soccer team knew they had their work cut out for them on Saturday when they faced one of the top teams in the region - West Jessamine High School.
The Briar Jumpers conceded some of their offensive power in an effort to play stronger defense and stop the Colts' offense. The plan worked for 48 minutes, but West Jessamine finally scored early in the second half en route to their 2-0 win over Somerset at Clara Morrow Field.
"Since we were playing somewhat passively...actually we were playing too passively," Somerset boys soccer coach Brian Blankenship stated. "We should have played more aggressively around our 18 (penalty box), and of course you can't let somebody take shots inside the 18. We were getting tired and probably weren't talking enough, but I am proud of my team. They played hard and stuck to the game plan."
"West Jessamine is a really good team and we knew that coming in; so we knew we had to change up tactics if we are going to try to beat them," Blankenship explained. "Who knows, we might see them again in the region."
Although West Jessamine outshot the Briar Jumpers 3 to 0 in the opening half, neither team really made a threat to score in the first 40 minutes of play in the 12th Region contest. Somerset spent most of the half on the visiting Colts' side of the field in a packed defensive stand.
But in the 48th minute, the Colts snuck the ball inside the penalty area for the first score of the game. West Jessamine penetrated the ball inside the 18-yard penalty box for a 10-yard shot that found the left top corner of the net.
Twelve minutes later, West Jessamine found the back of the net again after working the ball inside the 18-yard box for another 10-yard shot to go up 2-0.
In the 74th minute, the Briar Jumpers got off their first, and only, shot of the game. Somerset junior Matt Coffey feed the ball to junior Derek Arias on a transition run-out play. Arias struck a solid 8-yard attempt that was defended by the West Jessamine keeper. For the game, West Jessamine outshot Somerset 10 to 1.
Somerset senior KJ Shand represented the Briar Jumpers only offensive attack in the opening half. Shand played up top near midfield in the Jumpers' defensive set in hopes of a breakaway tackle. And on the occasions the Briar Jumpers did get the ball past the last line of the Colts' defense, Shand tried to transition the ball into an offensive attack for the Briar Jumpers.
"We told KJ (Shand) his work rate for this game was to try to hold off their defenders and help us get up so we could get an offensive third, which was really important to our game plan," Blankenship explained. "KJ did an excellent job, but I don't think we got up enough. We were a little too afraid to push up for their counter attack."
"The later you go in tournament time, you are going to go up against tough teams and you are going to have to switch tactics around," Blankenship stated. "It was good for us to get a look at this so we can see what we need to work on for later in the season."
Somerset (1-2) will host Casey County on Monday, Aug. 19.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.