Jade Tree United soccer team began their season late on Thursday, December 8, as the team faced off against ATM United at home at the Kirkwood soccer complex.
The second season of JTU has been long awaited, and the air was thick with anticipation as spectators began to fill the complex. As JTU warmed up, this year’s team looked more confident than last year’s, with many fan favorites and returning players in the line up.
The team that eventually took to the pitch for the first half was very familiar to JTU fans and also included the debut of two new key JTU players, Alex Milne and â€˜keeper “Bad Ass” Brian. That being said, Jade Tree United still began the match short of players, as illness and impending bad weather kept several players from making it out to the match.
As the first half began, JTU was bursting with energy and speed, but ATM was able to keep possession for the first few minutes before JTU got a hold of the situation and made some serious attempts on goal. During this period, sturdy new â€˜keeper Brian did his job with ease, as he did a tremendous job of stopping any ATM shots on the JTU goal.
Alex Milne stepped up in the striker position and made several thunderous shots on goal that, while they were on target, were stopped by the ATM keeper. Clearly frustrated, but not discouraged, Milne kept pounding ball after ball at the ATM net throughout the first half, only to be denied his just deserved debut goal.
Fifteen minutes in, JTU made its first substitution, with latecomer and new addition Mike Leyva (on loan from Stonecutters) entering the game for Victor Alvarez.
JTU and ATM were stuck in a struggle for goals, as neither team made any significant gains in the first period. As the whistle blew, ATM put the ball in the JTU net, but the goal was taken back as it had crossed the line after the whistle, leaving the score 0-0 heading into halftime.
The second half opened with JTU bringing the ball up field time and time again, only to lose possession on the edge of taking a shot. Mike Leyva danced his way into ATM territory and was able to get a few shots fired, but ATM’s â€˜keeper held strong, despite being clearly intimidated by the quantity of shots from the JTU team.
Defensive player, Victor Alvarez took a shot to the face and had to leave the game due to injury. While JTU re-organized, ATM immediately capitalized on a confused JTU side and scored on a direct free kick, putting ATM up 1-0.
Midway through the second half, Victor Alvarez returned to the match and dumped the ball into the far left corner. Tim Owen found Alvarez’s lob and took a few shots, only to have them rebounded back towards him. After several more attempts by Owen, Owen passed the ball to Darren Walters, who was situated in front of the goal. Walters received the pass and put his name in the books with the first goal of the season for JTU and thus equalizing 1-1.
Buoyed by the goal, JTU began putting more plays together and taking ATM to the task for their poor defending. But it was JTU who ultimately became too loose in the defense and allowed ATM to get a goal and gain ground by going up 2-1.
Despite being a somewhat mild game for indoor, JTU was given a one-man advantage when an ATM player fragrantly fouled JTU’s Alfredo Agra by pushing Agra to the ground in a retaliatory move. JTU had two minutes to capitalize on this advantage, but was unable to convert anything during this time.
As the final minutes ticked away, JTU kept after ATM, but was not able to get the point they needed, leaving the final score at 2-1.
Jade Tree United’s next match takes place Sunday, December 11 at Ab Jones against Valley Strikers.