The Montesano High School boys soccer team has held opponents to just one goal each in three league games so far this season. The problems for the Bulldogs haven’t been on the defensive side of the ball, but on offense.
In league games against Hoquiam on March 25 and Rochester on March 27, Montesano failed to find the back of the net and lost each contest 1-0.
“We are competing well,” coach Mike Malpass said. “I have not seen one team yet where I can walk away and say we were outclassed so that is really positive.”
Montesano (1-2, 2-3) gave up a goal in the 27th minute to Hoquiam and couldn’t overcome the windy conditions to create many scoring opportunities. Against Rochester, the Bulldogs once again gave up a goal in the first half with a ball going just off the hands of goalie Jeff Varness in the 32nd minute. Monte had plenty of chances to score in the second half with a missed penalty kick, and two corner kicks in a span of less than six minutes.
“We are struggling in midfield,” Malpass said. “We still haven’t got it figured out yet. I’m really trying to get us passing the ball around on the ground and the guys are getting there, but when there is pressure applied some of that goes out the window and we are right back to old style. I think we are so close to turning it around. We have lost the last two games by one goal each game and we could have easily won the game if we had finished our opportunities.”
Malpass said many of the struggles for Montesano have come with growing pains from a transition to a 4-5-1 formation from the 4-4-2 formation the Bulldogs used last season. The first year coach began using the formation because of his emphasis on controlling midfield with four defenders and five midfielders. The formation allows the outside midfielders to attack and retreat, but learning when to be aggressive comes with time working in the system, Malpass said.
“The hardest part is reading the game for some of these players and not recognizing when things are going to break down,” Malpass said. “Once they can figure that out in their minds things will start changing. We definitely have enough talent in this team.”
Montesano scored six goals in the first two games of the season before hitting a dry spell without a goal in the last three contests. Malpass said he believes the goals will come with hard work and experience and this group of Bulldogs does not shy away from hard work.
“We’ve got a group of kids that is open and wanting to learn and that helps so much coaching,” Malpass said. “I’m very confident that we are going to turn this around very quickly. As soon as we start scoring goals, we will start winning games.”