A superior strategy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 2, 2006

The Demopolis High School girl’s soccer team couldn’t have been less lucky in their draw for the first round of the playoffs.

They travel to face Altamont at 4:30 this afternoon. The Birmingham-area private school has won multiple state championships over the last few years, Demopolis head coach Peter Keen said, and they “drilled us bad” in a match-up last year. But like any good coach, Keen has a plan to improve his 11-6-2 Lady Tigers’ chances: He’s going to move his two best players as far away from the goal as possible.

“Our strategy is to put our best two players (juniors Megan Keen and Molly Coplin) back to sweeper,” he said. “They’ll worry about defending the goal. If we can hold (Altamont) scoreless in regulation, I feel like we can win on penalty kicks.”

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Keen said he tried a similar strategy last weekend against Montgomery private powerhouse St. James. He set a gameplan that put Coplin and Keen back protecting the Tigers’ goal. Unfortunately, he had to finish coaching the boys’ team, and his two strikers could not resist the allure of the net. They abandoned the back line, and St. James took a 3-0 first-half lead.

When his full attention was on the Lady Tigers, he put Coplin and Keen back in the sweeper position, and St. James did not score again, he said. But the damage was done.

Should regulation time end with a pair of donuts on the scoreboard, Keen said he feels confident Demopolis will emerge from the first round with a victory.

“I’ve got five girls who can consistently put in in the net on PKs,” he said, referenceing Keen, her sister Falon, Coplin and her sister Abby and Keely Ramirez.

Though the Lady Tigers have never advanced past the first round, they have built

a streak of three straight playoff appearances.

And while most of their opposition boasts senior leadership, the juniors are in control in Demopolis. So, Keen said, there’s nowhere to go but up.