ORLEANSâFolks in attendance at the Lake Region-People's Academy boy's soccer game on Friday came away with a sense of how well this year's Rangers can play, as they more than held their own against a traditionally very good Wolves team in a 2-0 loss.
"I think we played with a lot of heart, a lot of desire, and we created some chances," said coach Tom Evans.
In fact one could argue that for several stretches of play, Lake Region was the better team.
What was working for the Rangers early was their collapsing style of defense.
Leaving only Shaquille Urie up high, all of the Rangers were coming low, staying in protection, and eliminating scoring threats.
In turn, they would look to head man the ball up the field, hitting Urie in stride as he broke towards People's net-mender Alex Duca.
The tough part about this scenario is that with the other offensive players back in support, Urie was left alone without an outlet to pass the ball to.
Even though it was the Rangers carrying play, it was the Wolves who scored first.
People's had gotten their chances in the half, a header here, a nice cross there, but there had been no strong threat directed at keeper Dennis Newland.
That is until the thirty minute mark when his teammate Drew Gallup was Johnny on the spot, helping Newland on a couple of stops to keep the score at 0's.
Five minutes later Peoples' Garrett Densmore changed that when he redirected a ball past Newland to give the Academy a 1-0 advantage with just under six minutes left to play in the first.
The Rangers came roaring back and had two great chances, the first when Anthony Wright found Clint Provoncha, who missed wide, and the other when Alex Beauregard blasted a low shot across his body that just missed the lower right hand corner.
As he has all season, Evans changed his goalie at the half, putting in Logan Harper for the final 40.
Harper was tested early, having a tough time with a dead ball kick, but he was able to get control of the ball and send it out of harms way.
Also in the second, Evans dropped Urie back and had Josh Tibault up front looking for the goal that had eluded the Rangers all game long.
The move almost paid off when Wright hit Tibault with a cross that Josh sent wide.
"We were kind of going half-hearted. We need to get every 50-50, and it should be LR's ball every time," said a determined Tibault after the game.
Five minutes later Peoples got some insurance when Camden Waller had a rebound come right to him and he blasted it home to make it 2-0.
After the second goal, the Rangers increased their pressure, but the Wolves were able to hang on for the win.
"I saw two teams working very hard out there," said Peoples' coach Phil Rogers. "We got lucky on our goals, it was âthe right foot at the right placeâ and our boys our tired."
The loss drops the Rangers' record to 2-1 on the season, and they will hit the pitch on Wednesday looking to put another tally in the win column
But in order to do that, Evans said his team will need better communication for it to happen.
"Communication, as I told the kids at the end of the game, that was the biggest missing link. We would have two guys running on the ball, then both veering off and letting a defender come in because no one said I got ball."
We'll see if the Rangers due a better job talking it up when Lyndon comes to Ranger Country for a 4:30 showdown.