Rocky Mountain Division

Monday, March 18, 2013

What’s in a Name? Blizzard Claim National Runners-Up

 Despite the irony in the name, which grounded the Colorado Blizzard at the Denver International Airport for over 9 hours before getting cleared on a flight that put them in San Diego around 10:45PM local time, it was just the first hurdle the team would pass on their way to the Premier Arena League’s National Finals Championship Match.

Day 1 - As the team prepared for their first game of the 2012-2013 National Finals there was certain intensity yet calm amongst the players while they were putting on their uniforms and getting ready to take the field at a run at the National Championship. Many players were anxiously watching the game that was going on before in anticipation of taking the field for the first time at Nationals.  For others, after taking an early exit last year, it was looking forward to making a statement that they were back and ready to take care of business.

After a brisk warm up, team prayer, and the determination to prove to everyone that they belong here; the Blizzard began their onslaught of the goals by defeating OTW Santa Clara 7-3. After a comfortable win in the first game the focus was turned toward the Premier’s number one team (undefeated at 8-0) the San Diego Sockers Premier. Last year the Blizzard had the #1 seed at 8-0 going into Nationals with a target on their back.  But, this year they were focus was on San Diego.  After a hard fought battle the Blizzard came up big with 2-1 result securing them a #1 or #2 seed going into the championship rounds.

Coach Wells " wow what a day, the players are playing well right now and are extremely focused on what we are here to do, they are working well as a collective and working hard for each other and it is showing in our play, 9 goals in 2 games at Nationals is a great way to start the tournament. Beating San Diego was a huge boost in our confidence going into the championship rounds tomorrow, we are definitely focused and ready to make a run at the title. "
Day 2 - The Blizzard, having clinched the #2 seed for the quarter finals, faced the same Santa Clara team they played in the first round with the same 7-3 result.   

In semi final match against the Blizzard would face another unbeaten squad in the form of the Northwestern Division’s South Sound FC. But Colorado was in rare form this game and were connecting on all cylinders commanding the game from the start by putting in 6 goals to complement goal keeper Justin Dzuba’s shutout.

Having first beaten a Blizzard from Colorado, taking down two undefeated teams in San Diego and South Sound, the Colorado Blizzard in deed looked unbeatable heading into the 2 hour break before the National Championship title game.  But Bladium Rosal, had other plans, and kept the Blizzard down leading 2-1 going into the final two and a half minutes of play before cashing in two quick goals on Colorado’s sixth attacker to drive the with out of their storm.

Coach Wells - "Congratulations to the Bladium Rosal, what an interesting match. We have never faced an opponent that packed it in defensively nor a team that plays a 3-2 zone defense in Indoor soccer before, it took us almost the entire 1st quarter to figure out how to attack this type of defense and by the time we sorted things out they had gotten two counter attacks and scored 2 goals before we knew it, at halftime we made some adjustments which led to Yves pulling one back to make the score 2-1 and we kept our intensity up and managed to hit the post 5 times but could not find the net. I'm a bit shocked at the amount of slide tackling the refs were allowing since the PASL has a rule against sliding especially since the result of several illegal slide tackles directly resulted in balls not going in the back of the net, after scoring 22 goals in 4 games you would have thought we would have found the net more in this game. Bad Luck, strong defensive play by Rosal and us having to go to a 6th attacker in the last 2:35 of the game saw the outcome of 4-1. I really proud of the players for setting a goal of getting back to Nationals and getting it done, and also for their strong showing this year and their strong play as a team, they are a very tight group of players and they played extremely well. Winning the title would have been nice, but being a National Finalist is a good accomplishment as well. Great job and congratulations to my players and to the PASL for putting on a great National Finals weekend. Looking forward to returning next season and making another run at the title."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Blizzard Snuffs Out Dynamite for Another Chance at National Title

After settling for a tie in Game 1 at home and dropping a heartbreaking Game 2 on the road of a three game series against the Denver Dynamite this season and the expansion FC Denver sitting on top of the table with just one match to go, the Colorado Blizzard could not afford to lose if they were to book a return trip to the PASL-Premier Nationals in San Diego.

Almost 5 minutes into the first quarter Eric Goldberg would open up the scoring at 10:09 from a Yves Chinje through ball.  Not even 5 minutes late Goldberg would return the favor; slotting the ball to an on coming Chinje for the eventual game winner. But Goldberg wasn’t finished yet, as a cheeky little back heal to Forward Jesse Black at the 1:10 mark closed out the scoring for the quarter.

The second quarter saw a momentary shift in momentum as the Dynamite doubled up the Blizzard in shots 20-to-9, but fortunately were not able to capitalize on any of them while goaltender Justin Dzuba was in “Beast Mode.”

After the halftime intermission, the Blizzard returned to form; extending their lead to 8 goals in the third quarter courtesy of a long pass to Odobong Obettee from Jimmy Wade at 13:42, Kelly Robinson after Mitch Lobdell pick pocketed the Dynamite and then dropped a pass to him in stride at 11:10, Ryan Creager from Odobong Obettee from the key during a power play at 8:25. The quarter was capped off by both Brian Contreras and Jesse Black punishing the Denver keeper for giving up a loose ball after the initial save at the 3:40 and 2:24 marks respectively.

Enter the fourth quarter with the Blizzard and Dynamite trading shots with Dzuba still unbeaten in the net, Kelly Robinson would steal the ball at midfield and lay it off to a waiting Jimmy Wade at the edge of the Dynamite box – uncontested for over 2 seconds which left plenty of time to square the ball back for Robinson to crush it through the back of the net at 13:45 for his second goal of the night.  Contreras would get his second goal just over a minute later after collecting the rebound from his first shot off the keeper after a ball sent through the box by Woodson.  Black would show why he was this year’s Golden Boot Winner as he finished off the Blizzard’s night of scoring on a power play with a hat-trick thanks to a piercing pass from Contreras.  The Dynamite would end up spoiling Dzuba’s shutout by pulling one back during a power play with 3:13 left in the match.

“Wow, what an up and down season this year was. The players were a little frustrated with a few of our games this season but they all came focused and with one thing in mind on Saturday night. We had to come to the Apex last year as well the last game of the season to clinch the Rocky Mountain Division in a two game in one night scenario so this was not a new thing for us. Same arena, same team, and needed the same result to get back to Nationals for another shot at the PASL-Premier Title.

The Dynamite are always a very strong opponent and I in no way thought we would come out of it with the result we did, the ball just happen to be bouncing our way on Saturday night and our back line was solid not to mention Dzuba playing possibly his best game of the season. We always enjoy our matches against the Dynamite, not only are all the players and coaches fierce competitors but also friends off the field, which makes this rivalry even more exciting to watch and be apart of. I am proud of the team for finishing the season on a strong performance and I hope we can carry this momentum into Nationals in March and represent the RMD as the Champions.

So on behalf of the Coaching Staff and the Players of the Colorado Blizzard we would like to acknowledge the Rocky Mountain Division teams, Denver Dynamite, FC Denver, CSC Cavalry and thank them all for helping make the Rocky Mountain Division a strong and exciting division and for being apart of one of the most spirited seasons the division has had yet. We hope to see everyone back next season." Coach Wells

Monday, January 28, 2013

Blizzard Reemerges on Top of the Rocky Mountains

Saturday as the Colorado Blizzard arrived in their locker room for their last home game of the 2012/13 season, and you could see on every face their desire to get back on track and win the division. However since the Cavalry were coming off a big win last weekend against FC Denver, they would need a big game to overcome their new found confidence.
The game started pretty normal as both teams were knocking the ball around feeling each other out and looking for opportunities around the goal. But it would be the Blizzard  who would strike first before the game opened up with quick passing, movement and flurries of shots.
As the second quarter began the Cavalry drew one back with a goal off of a corner kick. After that goal the Blizzard began another strong offensive and put another 3 goals in before the half looking to carry some momentum into the locker room. 
The Cavalry would strike back for 2 goals to open the second half as they tried to build some momentum, but the Blizzard took things into their own hands and clamped down on defense behind an on fire Justin Dzuba who recorded a season high 48 saves, and that would be the end of any other goals for the Cavalry.  Then the Blizzard stepped up their level of  intensity and put 5 more goals in the back of the net to seal the deal, eliminate the Cavalry from playoff contention and once again regain the top spot in the Rocky Mountain Division.
Coach Wells, " The Players definitely came to play tonight, after a strong week of training and refocusing on what we do best the players wanted to make a statement and come out and have a strong game. After last weeks loss we had to refocus this week and I had to remind the players what our strength is and what has been a huge part of the team success, Defending. Strong Defending opens up the game and allows your attack to take shape. It was nice to see 10 goals on the board and getting back to only allowing a few. Jesse Black set the tone up front as our Veteran defender John Molet had a strong game in the back and also netted 2 goals himself one in which he stole the ball off a Cavalry forward and went coast to coast with 2 give an goes with teammates to score. I hope we can carry the performance we had on Saturday through the rest of the season. "
The Blizzard look to finish the season on the road needing to only secure 4 out of 6 points possible in their final 2 games (CSC Cavalry on Feb. 2nd and Denver Dynamite on Feb. 9th) to once again claim the Rocky Mountains Division Title and book their ticket to the Nationals in San Diego on March 10th &11th.