Possession is more than 9/10ths of Marmion victory
By Steve Nemeth
Possession may be nine-tenths of the law but on Saturday it was almost 100% responsible for Marmion Academy’s 2-0 victory over host Oswego.
While both teams traded some early opportunities, the visiting Cadets improved their ball possession throughout the match and their passing led to a two-goal intermission edge; it was more of that ball-hawking that kept Oswego from mounting a significant comeback effort.
The result was particularly welcome since Marmion had just ended a five-match winless string by eking out a 4-3 win over Mount Carmel that led to some soul-searching.
“We had a players meeting and discussed why the last two weeks were so rocky,” junior quad-captain Mick Maley said. “We evaluated where we were as a team and with the playoffs coming up, we decided to try to be a team that shuts its opponent’s offense down and to do it by keeping possession while eventually producing goals.”
That was the case after 16:17 when Matt Switzer started with a cross that was deftly flicked on by Cory Fitzgerald to a wide-open Maley for an eight-yard strike.
Marmion continued its forays into the Oswego half of the field and with 15:50 left before halftime, the host Panthers were whistled for a foul just inside the penalty box. With OHS keeper Luis Gallardo guessing to the left, Maley converted the penalty kick to the right in order to boost his goal tally to 11 for the season.
After both teams put five of their eight overall attempts on goal in the opening half, the final 40 minutes statistically illustrated the Cadets’ possession as Oswego’s lone attempt was smothered by goalie Brad White. Switching the ball from side to side in working up field, Marmion had two of its five attempts on frame.
“Coming in I wanted to see 80 minutes of focused effort and I think we had 100% effort and concentration today,” Marmion coach Kevin O’Connor noted. “Increasing our concentration level and our decision-making can make up for some deficiencies and lead to offensive opportunities.
“I thought Switzer had the quietest great game I’ve ever seen. He did so much that doesn’t show in a box score but is noticed and appreciated by a coach,” O’Connor added.
“Quite frankly, Switzer, Male and (Alex) Ruble were so steady. I also thought our right mid, Joe Romanos, sacrificed some offensive changes to make certain we didn’t give up anything in transition.”
The shutout was Marmion’s fourth of the season and the third recorded by White, a junior who shares net time with senior Evan Lefelstein.
“We really had good communication in back but I think the major key today was the way we possessed the ball throughout the field,” White said.
The victory bumped Marmion’s season record to 9-4-6 and the Cadets hope to add to a 5-1-0 record with back-to-back Suburban Christian Conference road games at Chicago Christian and Wheaton Academy on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
While Oswego slipped back under .500 at 6-7-1, the Panthers were doing some more experimentation in anticipation of a showdown with the Southwest Prairie Conference’s only other (5-0-0) unbeaten in Plainfield Central. That game has been moved from Monday to October 11 with a visit to Romeoville now reset for October 14.
“We wanted to see some different things today and use this as a tune-up,” OHS coach Travis Carlisle explained. “We never want to lose, but we saw some people in different spots and had a few guys who haven’t had too many touches lately and I was pleased with the way they played. Especially against a Marmion team that is very well-coached.
“Adam Udy did everything we asked of him and especially in the first half had some very nice plays. This was a fairly physical game and I was pleased that we kept our composure,” Carlisle said.
Before the SPC showdown with Plainfield Central, Oswego takes part in the Waubonsie Valley Warrior Invitational facing Hinsdale South in Hinsdale (Oct. 5), hosting Lemont (Oct. 7), and finishing at Waubonsie Valley (Oct. 9).
“Today we were trying some new stuff and we’ll take what we learned into our remaining games,” Panther senior tri-captain Nathan Kyes insisted. “That’s not an excuse for not playing better today, but we’ve got a lot of big games ahead of us.”