‘Dogs avoid trap
Palisade solves Delta's defensive strategy in season opener
Damick Kinson ended up on his goal-scoring run completely by accident.
After the Palisade High School boys soccer team had been sucked into an offside trap three times in the first 10 minutes Thursday by a high-lined Delta defense, the ball landed at Kinson’s feet after he had been forcibly swung toward the goal during a scuffle for possession.
After a 20-yard, open-field run and a bottom-left corner finish, Kinson scored the first goal in Palisade’s 3-1 season-opening win at Walker Field.
“I was surprised to see the ball where it was,” Kinson said. “But once I got the ball I just took off because I knew I could beat them.”
In a game where “pressure” was the most commonly shouted word by both coaches, it was the over-application of pressure that cost the Panthers.
The offside trap lured Palisade behind the final defender several times, but it also left Delta goalie Lane Sanders with no help on numerous occasions. Sanders faced a handful of point-blank shots and watched a Bulldog shot on an empty net skirt just outside the left goalpost.
On one such occasion, Marques Combs locked up the Bulldog win when he banged home an open-net shot moments before halftime.
Palisade outshot Delta 14-3 and consistently held the ball in the attacking one-third of the field. Conversely, Delta created a handful of chances, nearly all of which came on the counter-attack.
“Well, a lot of it was on purpose and us just passing the ball back and forth,” Palisade coach Austin Wallace said. “We were making sure they were working harder than we were, and it allowed us chances on offense.”
The season opener marked the debut of Wallace, who succeeded Drake Jandreau. Jandreau retired last winter after 19 years as the Bulldogs’ coach.
Wallace said he wants to continue Jandreau’s legacy, one he was a part of as an assistant coach for five years.
“I like to say I always stand on the shoulders of giants,” Wallace said, laughing. “Drake’s done a lot of good for this program, and we’re really only tweaking small things, like trying to come from angles, just little things. We’re building off what he has done.”
Austin Stelmach tapped in a third goal during the latter part of the second half, and he said the offensive improvement this season was only a fraction of what the team is capable of achieving.
“We have Marques, and he scored a lot of goals last year,” Stelmach said. “Obviously he’s still a big part of what we do, being as fast as he is. But we have a ton of guys growing, and we have a lot of guys who are really good at getting the ball up the wing and scoring it.”