Keeping the ball away from your opponent is a sound strategy to winning a soccer match. Foes grow weary of chasing and digging in on defense, often leading to mental lapses or mistakes from fatigue. But ultimately, possession guarantees nothing.
Roos FC learned that lesson the hard way, falling 2-0 to Rangers FC on a chilly night at D'Youville College's Dobson Field. Despite Roos' possession in the attacking third for much of the first half - and generating a few close chances - Rangers' patient defense, strong goalkeeping and timely goals propelled them to victory.
Ryan Couell assisted on Dominic Parisi's goal early in the second half, then capped the outing with a back-post tap-in of a well-weighted Ryan Schamber cross on a counterattack. Rob Weigand collected the clean sheet, with standout defensive performances from Nick Fetterman and Jimmy Nesper.
Weathering Roos' first-half onslaught was no easy task, and Rangers did themselves few favors with unforced giveaways.
"They were all over us - they probably had 15 corner kicks in the first 15 minutes; we couldn't get it out of our end," admitted Couell, who might have embellished the number of corners.
"We were just sort of absorbing things," added Fetterman. "Eventually, things settled in and we started knocking the ball around. When we want to, we move the ball really well."
The losing side generated three clear cut opportunities through Colin Witman, the former Crimson Fire striker who plays collegiately at St. John Fisher. The young forward's darting diagonal runs were difficult for Rangers to track, and Roos' midfielders did well to pick them out. Unfortunately for Witman, he was stopped twice by a charging Rob Weigand, while a late first-half strike clanged off the near post and out.
1-0, Rangers, 54': Rangers began to muster more pressure early in the second half. If it wasn't for two fantastic saves by Roos goalkeeper Greg Slabyk, Rangers would have jumped ahead a few minutes prior. Ryan Schamber's corner kick met Fetterman's head at the back post - Slabyk reacted quickly to bat away, but Fetterman pounced on the rebound, forcing another reaction save from the Roos keeper.
But less than a minute later, Couell took advantage of open space down the left side, beat a defender and slid a short pass to Parisi in the middle of the pitch. The former Cheektowaga High School forward smacked a volley toward goal - it caromed off a defender high in the air, sailed over a helpless Slabyk's head, gently nicked the crossbar and landed in the goal. It was, to some degree, lucky.
"[Parisi] gets those goals, though," Fetterman said. "Somehow, some way, whether it's bouncing off a few people, he finds the back of the net. It's not always pretty."
"The changed the game right there," Couell summed.
2-0, Rangers, 66': A majestic three-person counterattack by Rangers put the game on ice 12 minutes later, as Phil Szafranek intercepted a pass from a Roos defender and set the gears in motion.
"That counter was all Phil Szafranek - he read that ball, pick-pocketed it, [played a] perfect ball to Schamber, who could not have played an easier ball for me to finish," Couell said.
"It's big having quick guys up there like Ryan [Couell] and Ryan [Schamber] to chase those down and really make chances out of it," Fetterman explained. "The things our forwards create from nothing is amazing, really."
Rangers' next Tehel Cup opponent will be NMB FC, a fellow championship division team, tentatively on June 7.
Rangers FC: Rob Weigand; Nick Fetterman, Zach Szafranek, Jimmy Nesper, Ryan Dobos; Dominic Parisi, Kevin Au, Josh Weigand, Matt Nesper; Ryan Schamber, Matt Rakowski. Subs used: Ryan Couell, Patrick Burke, C.J. Caggiano, Phil Szafranek.
Roos FC: Greg Slabyk; Max Adler, Kyle Ernst, Garrett Rehner; Zack Thomas, Anthony Pellicano, Mike Skrzypczyk, Richie Gordon, Luke Friedman; Colin Witman, Dan Pulaski. Subs used: Dylan Begany, Scott Campbell, Dan Harvey, Brian Bartosik, Roberto Cardone.