The MICDS Rams got their soccer season off to a good start by beating a tough opponent before finishing second in the season-opening Metro League Tournament.
The Rams were seeded fourth and met third-seeded John Burroughs for the championship. MICDS lost 1-0 to the Bombers.
MICDS defeated Bayless 7-1 and upset top-seeded Priory 3-2 in two overtimes to reach the championship game.
“Games against Bayless, JBS and Priory are good measuring sticks early in the season,” MICDS coach Jack Fischer said. “I was happy with how we competed in those games.
MICDS opened with a win over Bayless.
“There were two things that stuck out as impressive from this game,” Fischer said. “No. 1, our pace and ability to attack quickly and No. 2, the way we created and finished our chances.”
The win set up a match against Priory. Last season, the Rams fell twice to the Rebels.
“Priory is always going to be a tough opponent so we definitely expected a difficult game,” Fischer said. “Our biggest focus was improving our mental approach, knowing that it contributed to the disappointing results from last season. I think we were much more resilient and that speaks to the character of this group.”
MICDS junior Walter Ralph scored a hat trick. It was the third hat trick in his career with the Rams.
“Walter played most of that game as a striker, but he is capable of playing as a winger, too,” Fischer said. “He had two hat tricks last year, but this was by far the most impressive one yet when accounting for opponent and quality of goals.”
The two teams battled to a 2-2 tie after regulation play. Neither team had any big chances in the first overtime.
“There we’re a couple half-chances, but no clear-cut opportunities,” Fischer said. “Both teams were fatigued and the pace had slowed somewhat.”
In the second overtime period, Ralph scored a little over 4 minutes into the action. The goal impressed Fischer.
“It was actually the best combination play we had all game,” Fischer said. “We were able to set up a string of four to five one-touch passes together off of a throw in before the ball made its way to Hayden Fischer just outside the penalty area. Hayden slipped a perfectly weighted through-ball that Walter finished calmly.”
The team react as expected considering Priory is a traditional rival for the Rams.
“(They) rushed the field and had a dogpile,” Fischer said. “There was a lot of emotion after coming back from 2-0 down in the first 20 minutes. That was a character win and something we can build off of moving forward.”
Ralph led team last year with 14 goals. Fischer is expecting Ralph to contribute on the offensive side.
“After an early season drought last year, he caught fire and showed his potential to be a top scorer in our league,” Fischer said.
MICDS faced John Burroughs for title. The Rams split two games with the Bombers last year.
“We knew that they would be a tough test, especially considering the fatigue from an emotional OT game the night before,” Fischer said. “The focus before the game was staying composed and staying in the game until we found our legs. We knew we would catch a second wind at some point and hoped to capitalize during that period.”
The Bombers scored within 5 minutes of the game after a nice volley from the top of the box. Victor Williams scored for John Burroughs. That goal stood as the only one in the game.
MICDS had some opportunities but were unable to score.
“We had a couple chances to relieve the pressure, but didn’t capitalize,” Fischer said. “We made some tactical changes and created a few decent opportunities in the second half, but still didn’t test their goalkeeper (Michael Turza) enough for my liking. JBS defended well throughout the game and limited our quality chances.”
Fischer said two Rams stood out to him with their play in the tourney.
“Walter Ralph (scored) five goals in three games,” Fischer said. “Joe Nicpon also stood out as a ball-winner in the midfield.”
Fischer likes where is team is at heading into play this week.
MICDS scored a 4-0 win Monday over University City to improve to 3-1 on the season.
The Rams return quickly back to action and play at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday at Trinity. At 4 p.m. Friday, MICDS meets Ladue at the Ladue West Campus.
“It’s a good start,” Fischer said. “They exposed some weaknesses early on in the year that we can address in training.”