Toys for Tots: PWSI Courage 96 Red gelling rapidly under Owolabi
By Roger Gonzalez
PWSI’s Under-16 boys team, Courage 96 Red, faced a tough task this morning in its first game of the Toys for Tots Tournament. Taking on CYA Cesena USA 96, the home side only had four returning players from last season and a new coach in Mayowa Owolabi.
The team didn’t look too new in this one. Despite a few issues with communication and passing, the squad ran out to a 2-0 lead and won 4-2, as Jed Dalton bagged a brace.
“We are getting better,” Owolabi said. “It is a brand-new team. We are just really looking to get everybody working together, combing, connecting on a lot of passes and attacking right off of that.”
Several players left for new clubs and academies, but the kids that stayed remained focused to put together a quality starting 11. Holding the majority of the possession, PWSI was able to frustrate CYA throughout, leaving its coaches trying to change the tactics often as nothing seemed to work against the home side. From a spectator’s standpoint, it was hard to believe that this was a recently reconstructed team.
With plenty of talent that has yet to fully gel, PWSI did a great job playing the ball down the wings and into space, while also knowing went to go into the center of the midfield to facilitate the ball.
The team was a bit shaky as the second half went on defensively with the 4-1 lead, but the team responded several times by pushing attackers to the outside, not allowing quality looks on goal from in front.
Dalton was the star on the day with his two goals. The pacey player cut in and out, leaving defenders behind time and time again.
“I feel that I played pretty well, but I think our team has a lot to work on,” Dalton said. “It was a good opening game. It showed us that we still need to grow.
“I think it’s pretty crazy how much we have accomplished, not knowing anybody to becoming a team. I like it.”
The team hopes to continue growing and book a spot in Sunday’s final at 2:30 p.m., with the semifinals taking place at 10:00 and 11:30 at Chinn Park.
“All of the pieces are coming together,” Owolabi said.
“It looks pretty good for us. We are just looking for fresh beginnings.”
Fresh beginnings indeed, and a fresh, perfect start to go with it.