Young Pigeon Forge soccer team learning how to finish
It was a familiar struggle for the Pigeon Forge girls soccer team.
The Tigers could move the ball deep into Gatlinburg-Pittman’s end in a game last Friday but the goals just weren’t there. Pigeon Forge’s red-zone offense, if you will, was ineffective.
“Not everybody’s going straight toward the ball,” said the Tigers’ Alisha Norris. “We’re looking for the long run and not going toward the ball. I think if we do that, we would’ve had a better chance.”
Wasted possession may be a theme at times for coach Bill Moseley’s club. Pigeon Forge (6-8-2) is so young — nine freshmen — and inexperienced that it has taken a while to get finishing down. It’s something the coach said he works on every day.
“(It’s) a lot of running through the ball instead of waiting,” Moseley said. “You’ve got to have that first touch. You’ve got to look up. You get in close, and there it is, and you just let it rip. Ninety percent of the time it’s going to go high or wide. You’ve just got to settle the ball down.”
Norris, one of Pigeon Forge’s more experienced offensive stars this year, did get her team’s only goal in the 5-1 loss. She fought off a defender to sling the ball into the corner. Ironically, it came in early in the second half after the Tigers had seen their best possession in the first 40 minutes.
Only two of the team’s nine newcomers have played soccer before and most of the Tigers’ players entered high school new to the sport. Moseley has had to work on basics to get his team up to speed in what he calls a rebuilding season.
But there’s also been progress. Norris said her teammates have improved over the course of season, getting more aggressive. Friday’s final, four-goal margin may have been a bit misleading. Pigeon Forge trailed by just one after Norris’ tally. Moseley said Pigeon Forge “broke down” after the score, allowing three goals in quick succession.
The Tigers certainly had the possession to generate that same kind of offensive outburst. It just never materialized.
“I think a lot of confidence is the key,” said junior Carson Montgomery. “A lot of inexperience, (the freshmen) get up there and they don’t have the foot skills yet. It’s hard.”
Montgomery said she’s seen the same kind of improvement Norris pointed out. Building on that new-found experience is the key. Moseley said he tells his girls they need to get out and play if Pigeon Forge is to get better.
“If they really want to play soccer and they want to do good, they’re going to have to play in the offseason,” Moseley said. “If they don’t, we’ll stay stagnant. If they do our team’s going to excel.”