?Steelquistreturns to coach soccer

Published on Thu, Mar 23, 2006
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?Steelquist returns to coach soccer

?Coach Dan Steelquist has returned to coach boys soccer at Blaine high school after a six year absence, and said that once the team jells this year “it will be fine.” It appears that the jelling process is coming along nicely as Blaine fought the Meridian Trojans to a tie before finally losing in double overtime 3-2.

The Borderites were 0-2 on the season coming into Tuesday night’s game with undefeated Meridian, the team favored to win the conference this year, but sometime between their molasses-slow performance in a 6-0 loss to Lakewood last week and their game on Tuesday, they took giant strides toward respectability.

The B’s played the Meridian game with both energy and patience, a combination that takes some mental discipline to achieve. According to Steelquist, it’s basically a matter of the team thinking of itself as a team.
The alternative is to try to do everything NBA-style on individual effort and athleticism, but soccer isn’t basketball, and such tactics usually mean that players get exhausted, easily out-run and then defeated by their opponents.

Tuesday the shoe was very much on the other foot as Blaine tired and nearly beat a team that’s supposed to be able to have them for lunch. After spotting Meridian a 2-nil lead Blaine kept playing a disciplined and patient game as the minutes ticked away. With 10 minutes left in the second half, freshman Casey McCabe pounded a shot on the Meridian goal that was blocked, but it rebounded back to freshman Odi Johannesson who sank it into the net to pull Blaine within one.

That ignited the B’s into pressing harder on Meridian, and Johannesson scored again with just three minutes left to tie the game at 2. When regulation time ended Blaine sprinted back to the sidelines to huddle up with Steelquist while Meridian shuffled in like they were already beaten. “Look,” said one Blaine player in the huddle, “they’re walking off the field.”

In the first overtime a beautiful crossing pass for Blaine that set up a fairly easy winning goal went instead arcing way high over the endline, and with that miscue the game began to slip away. The overtime ended with the score still knotted as the teams switched ends, but as things were getting under way in the second five-minute overtime Meridian’s Jake Jorgensen managed to get a step on four Blaine defenders and that’s all it took. He hammered the winning goal home to preserve Meridian’s unbeaten string thus far this year, sending Blaine to its second league loss and third this year against no wins.

Steelquist later said this team found out what they can do if they want to. “I’ve never felt this good after a close loss before,” he said, “but today these guys showed me something.” The B’s played almost all of the game at a high level, with their heads switched on and talking to each other. They’ve gotten it there. The next step is to keep it there until the final whistle.

Blaine next plays at 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon, March 23, against Mt. Baker at Kendall elementary school.