Strykers get ready for season at soccer Classic

Coming down from a midair bump against a Rapids player, Stryker Jimmy O’Dell adjusts to drive the ball upfield. - DANIELLE SZULCZEWSKI Sports Reporter
Coming down from a midair bump against a Rapids player, Stryker Jimmy O’Dell adjusts to drive the ball upfield.
— image credit: DANIELLE SZULCZEWSKI Sports Reporter

MARYSVILLE While many of the teams playing in the Strawberry Classic were executing skills fine-tuned since their season began almost six months ago, the Marysville Strykers were still working out some of the bugs.

"We've only had five practices, while they've been playing since March," said Strykers coach Don Mills, whose recreational soccer team's schedule begins after Labor Day. "This is a preseason tournament for us, a chance to see what we need to work on."

So, at a bit of a disadvantage playing up into the U18 select bracket, the Strykers started out a little sluggish on offense and gave up a goal early in the first half against the Kent Rapids. But as the clock kept ticking, the Stryker boys figured out how to play to and around the Rapids' technically proficient front two forwards. By halftime, it was still only 1-0.

By and large, the battle remained in the midfield, with neither team getting a lot of opportunities at their opponent's goal. But about 10 minutes into the second half, the Strykers got their chance to pull out of the midfield and into the Rapids' keeper's face. Forward Stephen Edwards got the tying goal for his team.

With that score, the game appeared destined for overtime. But with five minutes left, the Rapids offense drew the Stryker goaltender out for what looked like a keeper. Instead, the forward charged in, beating the Strykers to the ball and scoring the game-winning goal.

As a recreational team, the Strykers play a shorter, less rigid schedule than most select teams.

Mills said that a lot of his players specialize in other sports and are just friends who got together to form the team for fun.

"A lot of my players used to play select," he said. "I've got swimmers on my team, baseball players on my team."

"The players are really good friends," he added. "They just like playing together."

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