The U-13s started their Final Four campaign in good form yesterday, catching Lousada off guard with some strong defence and fast breakaways, to lead 3-2 into the interval. But their opponents came out determined to make amends, with strong attacking play and the byzantine substitution rules working against the Casuals, resulting in a 4-8 defeat.
The second game of the day, against CAMIR, saw an improvement in the substitution plan, with Casuals’ weaker formation going out first and holding its own to be 0-1 down; then the older payers pulled ahead after the interval with three goals in five minutes and defended that lead for the final 5 minutes, in spite of some strong CAMIR attacks.
This morning, in the deciding game for the 1st/2nd place against Casa Pia, Casuals could not get into the same rhythm they had achieved with CAMIR. Despite being 0-0 at the interval, our hometown rivals saved a penalty stroke and the Casuals failed to capitalise on a green card given to Casa Pia’s strongest player, who in the end scored a hat-trick to leave them decisive 3-0 winners.
The game for third place saw a repeat of the earlier win against CAMIR, but the team really came together with every member playing a minimum of 2 periods. The final score of 3-1 also reflected some amazing saves in front of goal by both the field players and the eventual Dream Team winning goalie. In the end two Casuals were voted on to the Dream Team, making for a generally satisfactory Final Four.
The U18s faced Juventude in their first match yesterday and despite scoring first, were 1-2 down at the break. Juventude pulled further ahead before Casuals could get into their stride, and eventually won 9-3.
This loss lead to a serious reaction in their second game, where they simply steamrolled the Casa Pia team 16-0 to give themselves an outside chance of reaching the Final. This however depended on them beating Lousada this morning: a thrilling game started badly, with the Casuals conceding 3 goals in the first 5 minutes. They pulled one back, but then conceded another right on the half time hooter. The second half saw Casuals gradually pull back to within 1 goal, and in the last minute their second penalty stroke should have taken the game into penalty strokes, but the Lousada keeper made a good save to give them a 7-6 win.
In their last game for 3rd place, Casuals rotated all their players and were 0-4 down at the break. They then pulled back to 4-4 to take the game into extra time: when a nicely worked move hit a defender’s foot on the line, they finally put that stroke away for a 5-4 win.
Meanwhile the Men played MHC Drunen outdoors: after going a goal down to the Dutch team, Casuals equalised from a solo run, and then took a 2-1 lead. They were unfortunate (or naive) to concede 2 goals in the last 3 minutes to lose 2-3.