Sports exploits of the amazing Steadman children.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Seven Penguins Promoted to U10 League, Corsino Named Rookie-of-the-Year -- Post-Season Analysis
Dateline: November 10, 2008, Oak Park. As expected, nearly every player of the 6-3 FC Penguins were today promoted to the premier U10 Womens League for next season. The team will undoubtedly be reconstituted and see some personnel changes. They will likely play under a different mascot next year. But their success this season promises more thrills to come in 2009 for a team that captured our imagination and stole our hearts.
PROMOTIONS TO U10 AND ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
The league announced that Penguins stars Adela Duewel (2), Taylor Leibig (3), Maura Reilly (4), Sarah "Roku" Steadman (6), Audrey Madura (7), Lauren Atchley (8), and Jacqueline McShan (9) will all play in the faster, more-competitive U10 league next season.
Meanwhile, rookie Andie Corsino (5) was named by the team Rookie of the Year. Ineligible for promotion to U10 for one more season, Corsino announced that she would play again next year in U8 to build skills and lead a new St. Giles team to a championship.
2008 PENGUINS -- a Season in Retrospective
Now ten days past the final game 2008 PENGUINS -- a Season in Retrospectiveof the season, we review the 2008 season -- perhaps the most exciting season in the history of U8 Football. The Penguins' roster of largely-veteran second grade athletes -- with one amazing rookie -- kept us spellbound throughout the season as they displayed match-after-match of new skills and thrilling play.
The Penguins, most of them returning players from the sub-.500 2007 FC Green Cheetahs, achieved a remarkable 6-3 record with a combination of outstanding goalie play, rock solid defense, and lightning quick offense. When the scored, they scored quick. When they scored early, they won. When their opponents got a breakaway, they met brick-wall defense. And on the rare occasion the opponents got the ball, got past the defense, and got anywhere the net, they generally found an impenetrable goalie waiting for them.
The Season - A Recap
Match 1, Holmes. The Penguins' season began on September 6 against FC Pink Panthers. From the first coin toss, the Penguins were in control. Reilly and Corsino each had goals, Madura scored three, and McShan and Reilly played goalie. Steadman and Corsino debuted their incredible determination, and the team unit played flawlessly. Penguins win 5-3, record 1-0.
Match 2. Rained out by remnants of Hurricane Ike.
Match 3, Maple South. The Penguins played a second team named FC Pink Panthers on September 20. This was the most even matchup of the season. Reilly played goal in the first half and allowed nothing, but the Penguins could not score. Atchley played goal in the second half, allowing nothing for the first 19 minutes, but the Penguins still could not score. The Panthers managed a very lucky downhill shot in the last minute of the slugfest. Penguins lose 0-1, record 1-1.
Match 4, Holmes. The Penguins finally played a team not named Panthers on September 27, facing the Green Dragons and their European ringer, Chloe. McShan played excellent goal again, displaying some punting ability, as did Reilly. Corsino made a huge pass to an open Madura, who scored the game-winner with two minutes to play. Penguins win 1-0, record 2-1.
Match 5, Maple North. The Penguins offense reached their high point on October 4, routing Team USA. Steadman made a pass-assist across goal early in the match to feed Madura a clean score. It was all the Penguins would need, but they got a lot more, with two more goals from Madura, two from Leibig, and one each from Reilly and Corsino. Leibig, Atchley, Reilly and Corsino all took turns in goal, and all were perfect. Penguins win 7-0, record 3-1.
Match 6, Maple South. The Penguins' hardest match came October 11 against the Inferno, their sister team from St. Giles. Reilly allowed two goals, Atchley allowed four, Madura got one goal and McShan played as hard as a player can play. The Penguins simply could not penetrate the Inferno's ferocious defense, and their own defense tired after repeated shots on goal. Penguins lose 1-6, record 3-2.
Match 7, Holmes. Three quarters of the Penguins' rematch with the Green Dragons on October 18 were terrific, but they could not overcome two first-period goals by the ringer Chloe. McShan and Leibig were solid in goal, and Madura had a goal in the second in what looked to be a rally, but the Penguins never really got on track and the season appeared to be slipping away. Penguins lose 1-2, record 3-3.
Matches 8-9, Maple North. Overnight pre-match rain closed many fields and dampened many teams' spirits on October 25, but it woke the Penguins. Their opponents technically defaulted, fielding only four players, but four more arrived from the blue stars and asked to play. One player, Alexis Zeiser joined the Penguins as Number 10, and the match was on. The Penguins were in control throughout. Madura scored on a brilliant throw-in from Leibig, Steadman showed more defensive prowess, Reilly and Leibig played perfect goal (with McShan out for a personal commitment), elbows were thrown and mud was everywhere. Penguins win, 1-0 against two teams, recording two wins on the same day. Record 5-3.
Match 10, Maple North. November 1 came in cold to Chicago, but the Penguins were hot. Reilly and Leibig were perfect in goal, and Leibig also scored two on the offensive end. The Bumblebees' coach praised McShan after the match, saying she was "tremendous." Penguins win 2-0, record 6-3.
After Reilly made the first goal of the season, Madura became the Penguins' most potent threat, even when she played defense. Leibig, Corsino, and Atchley all contributed goals of their own, Steadman and McShan had consistent shots on goal, and Duewel had assists and kept defenses busy with passes and penetration, especially from the left side.
Madura scored two hat tricks on the season, in Matches 1 and 5, a feat deserving of special recognition. When Madura scored early, the Penguins almost always won; and she won matches two, seven and eight with late goals. When Madura didn't score, the Penguins were only 1-2.
The Penguins' passing got better all season long, as team play improved. Duewel, the Penguins' most improved player over the long season, really came into her own and helped out the offense with good footwork toward the end of the season.
Defense and Goalies
With the exception of the fourth quarter of the Inferno match on October 11, the Penguins defense was solid from the beginning of the season to the end. Goal play was magnificent, and got better each week, with blocked shot after blocked shot. McShan's play in the second half of the l November 1 match was especially stellar, reminiscent of VanEhrman's play on October 11 when she covered the entire defensive side of the field stealing balls and closing down play.
The Penguins notched four shutouts, meaning that half their opponents never scored a single goal.
The Penguins allowed only 12 goals all season. That's an average of less than .38 goals per quarter, or 1.5 goals per game. Setting aside the Inferno match, the Penguins allowed only 6 goals in the other 7 matches, or just .21 goals per quarter, less than a goal per game.
Steadman played solid defense throughout the season, staying always between the ball and the goal. Madura also played solid defense, but often moved into the offensive end leaving Steadman or another defenseman to hold the back end by herself. As the Penguins improved over the season, so did their defense, as Atchley came into her own and really started pounding the opposition in the Team USA match and then again in the final few matches.
At least 6 of the Penguins played goalie during the season: McShan, Reilly and Leibig notched the most quarters, but Atchley, Madura and Corsino also played goal.
The Penguins, as was well known throughout the league, had by far the most loyal and loudest fans. Penguins fans showed up in all weather, and yelled from the tops of their lungs to support the team. Every field was a "home field" as the Penguins' supporters showed up in droves and screamed the team forward mostly to victory. Penguins fans are clearly the best in the league. "We really appreciated everything they did for us," said Madura after the season. "Yea, they even threw out the hat for you!" said Steadman.
Coaching and Intangibles
First-year coach Steadman was a liability. "I don't really know why the Penguins hired me," he said after the season. "I knew nothing about soccer, thought 'football' was a game played in pads and helmets, and had never coached before." But what he lacked in experience, he made up for in aggression, volume and enthusiasm. "I told the ladies before the very first match: The other team is made up of 7 year old girls! If we go about our business in an aggressive way, if we stay after the ball, if we focus on the match, and if we kick the heck out of the ball, we probably will win. We did a lot of winning this season."
Attentive readers and better analysts credit Coach Reilly for much of the team's success. Reilly showed football flair with several colorful football jerseys, and clearly had more football knowledge than Steadman. "He was a HUGE asset to this team," Coach Steadman said. "I could not have done it without him."
The Penguins were perfect at Holmes, 2-0, and nearly perfect at Maple North, 3-1. They fared not so well at Maple South, losing a heartbreaker and a blowout and going 0-2. "Had we played all the games at Holmes and North, and avoided the hill-country pitch at South, we would have been nearly perfect," said Roku Steadman.
Penguins' Final Message to their Fans
The Penguins issued a press release today, just before the team disbanded forever. The Penguins' players, coaches and management thanked the league and their fans: "We had a great time this season. We learned a lot. We hope we gave you some thrills, and we think we upheld the honor of St. Giles. We thank everyone who came to our matches, washed our uniforms, drove us around, read our press, gave us suggestions, brought us snacks, or supported us in any and every way. We love our fans. We'll all see you next season in U10 or U8. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."