EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass., — Sunday afternoon saw the New England Mutiny and Western New York Flash scratch and claw for a 3-3 draw. With the draw, the Mutiny can at the very least hear the music playing on the postseason-positioning dance floor.
At the moment, the Mutiny stand six points out of the fourth and final spot in the WPSL Elite playoffs. Next up is New York, who dealt the team a deflating 5-1 loss in their season and home opener.
Sunday’s game certainly showed a lot of things, but the question to be asked here is: What did we learn in the aftermath of the draw?
1.) Morgan Andrews is turning hype into truth.
Andrews, the Gatorade National Player of the year, has come on strong as of late for the Mutiny by serving up crisp passes to set up goals and scoring highlight-reel worthy goals of her own. Both of those facets of her game were on display for the hundreds in attendance at East Longmeadow High School.
For the Mutiny’s second goal, Andrews split a pair of defenders with quite the deke, and fired a shot to the opposite post past Flash goaltender Brittany Cameron. The goal was her first with the Mutiny this season.
“I saw that I had two players coming at me and I decided to take them on,” Andrews said of her first professional goal. “I put it right, cut left and put it side post.”
For her next trick, Andrews fired a pass to team scoring leader, Kate Howarth , that the University of Miami product headed into the goal with all kinds of authority. Andrews and Howarth are building an on-field rapport that is producing positive results for New England.
“That’s just about putting it on frame and finishing it,” Howarth said of the play. “It’s about to focusing on it and finishing it,” Howarth added.
2.) The New England Mutiny are living (and playing) better through chemistry, thanks to their recent road trip.
Despite going 1-3 on their recent road trip, getting out of town looks to have been a good thing for the team. Being out on the road has given the Mutiny’s roster a lengthy opportunity to really get to know each other off the field.
“It (our chemistry built really really well,” Mutiny goalkeeper Vikki Alonzo said. “We had two tough games with Indiana and Chicago, and we had a lot of free time too, to get to know each other,” she added about the benefits of the team taking their game on the road.
The results are being shown on the pitch as the Mutiny have been playing up to the caliber of play of their former-WPS franchise opponents in their last two matches against Boston and Western New York.
3.) The Mutiny may have just created the proverbial blueprint on how to beat, or at least take a draw against, the Western New York Flash.
Throughout the match on Sunday, the Mutiny’s main focus was on one end of the pitch—their own. The predominantly defensive strategy employed by coach Tony Horta’s crew paid off for most of the game.
“Our plan coming out of the locker room was to keep them as frustrated as we could and keep them from scoring in the first half,” Mutiny coach Tony Horta said. “I thought if we kept our shape and we brought the players out wide to take away their width, they would have to try and figure out and go backwards. They got shook up when we kept our shape,” he added.
Frustration was certainly the emotion felt by the Flash’s head coach Aaran Lines after his team’s second and final meeting against the Mutiny, resulting in the draw. The Flash head coach wasn’t exactly on board with the ultra-defensive mindset put forth by Horta’s charges.
“I don’t know if that would be my approach, having a team equalized at 3-3,” Lines said after the game. “If my team was at home in front of 500 people, I probably would have been trying to win the game,” he added.
Earlier this month, the Flash defeated the Mutiny 3-1 at Sahlen’s Stadium.
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