LUMBERTON — Training for game speed in the sport of soccer is hard to duplicate in a practice setting, and Tuesday night at the Lumberton soccer jamboree at the Pennington Athletic Complex at Northeast Park the Lumberton and St. Pauls boys soccer teams were getting their first taste of in-game action.
“We need game-time (experience). I think everybody out here does,” Lumberton coach Kenny Simmons said. “With soccer, it’s very vital that you get match fitness. I don’t think you can translate your training into what we call match fitness in terms of soccer. You just get that by playing games.”
Eight days after the opening of practice, both teams hit the pitch against other teams for the first time and the coaches both saw the effects on their teams.
“When you’re the varsity squad and the most you’ve had the opportunity to do is scrimmage jayvee, it’s almost a culture shock,” St. Pauls coach Brent Martin said. “You could tell they were huffing and puffing by 25 minutes played because the game is played at a completely different speed. These guys are coming out to win so it’s highly competitive. That’s good for these guys because they need to get into the routine of playing at that pace and that speed.”
The mix of the competitive level and the speed makes game speed “more intense” than practice speed for St. Pauls senior Anthony Espinosa.
“There’s more on your shoulders. In practice, we do play with intensity but there’s no adrenaline,” he said.
Also playing in the event was East Bladen, South View, Pine Forest and Hoke. All the teams, except for East Bladen, are on Lumberton’s and St. Pauls’ schedule. Getting in-game action against some 4A teams is something Espinosa sees as a benefit for the Bulldogs.
“It will benefit us because there a lot of new guys and it will show them that there are talented teams out there,” Espinosa said. “It’s not just Sunday league teams and practice against the jayvee team.
“It will give them a lot of experience because I have played against these teams since my freshman year and I’ve got a lot of experience from it.”
The jamboree featured the some of the top goal scorers from the Southeastern and Three Rivers Conferences with Lumberton’s Rene Atlamirano and St. Pauls’ Ricardo Flores. Altamirano scored 21 goals to lead the SEC and Flores’ 14 goals was third best in the TRC. Altamirano netted multiple goals in the three games Lumberton played, including a free kick from 25 yards out against St. Pauls.
“It lets us see how we’re going to play, prepares us with what we’ve got to fix and work on and getting us together to play,” Altamirano said.
Both teams are coming off high finishes in their conference standings, earning state playoff berths last season and are working around a few personnel changes with seniors departing. On the field, each team used the scrimmages to see what styles, formations and positions will be possibilities for this season, before the regular season and the games that impact your season record start.
“It gives me a chance to see players at different positions and experiment with different formations and shapes,” Simmons said. “I’ve definitely seen some positives, but also at times you see some things you know you need to work on so we’ll get to the drawing board after today.”
“We’ve learned what best fits us with the personnel we have for the year,” Martin said. “Every game we improved and the only thing we changed was the formations. From what we learned was what formations best suited the guys we have.”
St. Pauls hosts a six-team jamboree on Saturday that starts at 9 a.m.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.