50/50 domination leads to NMMI win

Posted on 12 October 2011 by Lawrence Foster of the Roswell Daily Record


NMMI’s Gerardo Estrella (16) battles for control of the ball with Socorro’s Sam Burleigh during the Colts’ win over the Warriors, Tuesday. Estrella recorded both Colt goals off assists from Jose Ruiz in the 2-1 victory. (Lawrence Foster Photo)

SOCORRO —  “Captain Obvious” would say that the key to winning soccer games is to score more goals than the other team.

What the Captain would be overlooking in that simplistic statement is that to score goals, a team has to have possession of the ball and, quite often, a team gets the ball as a result of winning 50/50 balls.

In the NMMI boys’ soccer game against Socorro on Tuesday afternoon, the Colts won a majority of the 50/50 balls and. as a result. dominated possession en route to a 2-1 victory that pushed their District 3-1A/3A record to 3-2.

NMMI coach John Barbour said that the Colts’ ability to win the 50/50 balls was the biggest reason for the win.


“Good things happen every time we try to win the 50/50 balls,” he said. “That was the majority of the reason why we won today. The last three weeks we have been stressing to the players that if we win the majority of the 50/50 balls, we are going to come out ahead. For the most part, whatever team goes and wins those 50/50 balls is going to be the team that owns possession, ends up with more opportunities and thus scores more goals. It all just kind of snowballs into a good result.”

From the start of the game, it was obvious that the Colts would dominate the proverbial jump balls.

Virtually all of the first five minutes of the game were played on the Warrior half of the pitch and that resulted in NMMI’s first goal.

In the fifth minute, NMMI’s Jose Ruiz hit a through ball to Gerado Estrella who took the pass in stride and got off a shot to the opposite post that gave NMMI a 1-0 lead.

That type of passing is also something that NMMI stresses according to Barbour.

“We try to pass a lot in practice,” he said. “Even during our warmups, we do a drill that encourages speed of passing and trying to get out with one-touch passing. I encourage them to go so fast that you are going to make your teammates miss, because you are moving so fast. Then when they are in a game, they are able to pass under pressure.

“That has really helped us. We aren’t putting away all of our chances, but if we have the ball the other team can’t score and we like those odds.”

NMMI kept the pressure on the remainder of the half, but couldn’t increase its lead. Its best chance to push the lead to two came in the 27th minute when Luis Moncada hit a perfect cross from the endline to Jorge Garza, but Garza’s header sailed just wide of the post.

The Colts finally increased their lead in the 48th minute when Ruiz once again set up Estrella to give NMMI a 2-0 lead.

Socorro was able to cut the lead to 2-1 in the 61st minute when Will Shafer scored, but they never threatened the rest of the game.

Overall, the Colts outshot the Warriors 12-6, a statistic that pleased Barbour.

“I am very happy with the pressure we put on them,” he said. “Anytime we have possession in our opponent’s half, they aren’t counter-attacking, so that is always a good thing. When we keep the ball in our opponents’ half of the field, good things are going to happen and that’s what we ended up with today.”


Posted in Colt Soccer

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