In an amazing match that still leaves my voice on the verge of going out, lowest ranked Mito has defeated 1st place Sapporo in the first win at Kasamatsu Stadium since September 9 of last year.
Those who watched or will watch the game can likely find one reason for the win. Both teams played well and hard, and both had many chances and great saves. Both teams played incredibly aggressively with an astounding 10 yellow cards split between the teams and many more fouls accompanied by warnings. The difference maker was Mito's tenacity at stealing away the ball in the midfield. Again and again, a well placed spike stole control of the ball away from Sapporo. The end game was a nail biter as just as in the Fukuoka game; the opponent pressed so strongly to the goal again and again. But in this case, goalkeeper Honma stopped each shot, including two incredible saves that deserve to be seen.
The teamwork of Ogura and Biju in the defensive midfield, again, strongly exceeds the expectations most would have had for the pair. Coach Maeda should also be highly respected for creating a new style and being very patient with it, and properly training the players from the ground up to make the club a force. August shows the incredible success proper training, coaching, and hard work can bring despite working with a miniscule amount of money compared to the top clubs in the division.
My only regret is that I had to work right up until the kickoff... I raced to the stadium afterword, risking being stopped for speeding in order to catch as much of the game as I could. Unfortunately, I arrived 2 minutes after the last of the goals were taken. Still, celebrating the win with all the other supporters felt amazing and it was great to be there.
Goals were taken for Mito by forwards Shiozawa and Nishino.
This win pulls Mito out of last place in the rankings for the first time since taking that spot early in the season, and now the team has gone 8 games with only one loss. With one of the biggest upsets rankings-wise in division history, Mito's momentum brings great optimism that the club can pull itself solidly into the middle of the table by year's end.