Gielczyk: Elk Rapids Continues Hot Start
Perhaps it wasn’t a work of art but that didn’t bother Elk Rapids girls soccer coach Andrew Krakow unduly because the Elks still came away with a 2-0 victory over North Bay, a co-op program hosted by Suttons Bay on Tuesday night.
It hasn’t taken the Elks long to get up to speed after an extended winter that delayed the start of the season. They’re off to a hot 5-0 start and while Tuesday’s game didn’t go as smoothly as the previous four, it was still a good enough performance to keep their season perfect so far.
Krakow said the Elks got caught up watching the action instead of forcing it in the first half against North Bay.
Playing against the wind was a factor, but nothing the Elks haven’t experienced this season. In fact, they’ve been against the wind in the first half in each of their first five games so that should not have given them any problem.
The Elks haven’t really been tested yet and complacency may have set in against the North Bay squad.
All five games have been shutouts.
Elk Rapids incredibly had a 20-1 advantage in shots on goal over the first 40 minutes, but failed to put the ball in the back of the net.
But the Elks finally found the mark nearly 20 minutes into the second half when Nikki Hayes took off on a breakaway and drilled a shot past the keeper to give the Elks a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later the Elks struck again as Olivia Travis hooked up with Heather Brothers on a nifty pass that resulted in Brothers sending a shot into the corner of the goal that escaped the reach of the keeper.
“We started to connect more passes in the second half,” Krakow said. “We definitely kept the ball on their defensive end more of the second half. We struggled with moving after we distributed the ball, and we continue to need to work on first touch.
“The transition game needs to improve also. We seemed to struggle in the center of the field.”
Part of that could be attributed to Clare Klein being out with an ankle injury. But that shouldn’t faze the Elks, their coach says.
“The girls need to learn to step up their game with whoever is on the field at the time.”
Hayes, Klein, Brothers and Kyla Pryde have been selected as team captains, a choice that meets with Krakow’s approval.
“All four of these ladies are vocal and are able to lead by example on and off the field,” said Krakow. “Despite only having been outside a handful of times prior to the first game the team is coming together and getting stronger in their level of play.
“Due to a few injures we continue to have to move players around in different positions. Also, due to trying to allow for a junior varsity team to play. I have players playing both on the JV and on the varsity depending on the games and the opponent.”
Krakow is emphasizing playing a game of possession, as well as working on their confidence and transition game.
Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. Gielczyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for story ideas.