10 July 2009

Mito 5 - 0 Fukuoka (Team Record for Margin of Victory)

Mito completely outclassed an unmotivated Fukuoka side on Wednesday, and the team now has its first season with two hat tricks in the books.

From the start Fukuoka were slow, sluggish, and challenged very little, and Mito took advantage of an opponent seemingly uninterested in the match result. The first goal came in the 12th minute from Keisuke Endo, playing energetically as he did in the last match to seal the win. He sprinted ahead of the defensive line to take a pass, created a full second of unchallengable time to set up a shot, and fired it through the goalkeeper's open glove to take the lead. Soon afterward he'd have another shot when firing in a dangerously close loose ball. It was deflected, but right into defender Hosaki who popped it in to double the lead. Just before the half ended leading team scorer Takasaki would take a pass and get his 11th goal of the year.

After the break, it wouldn't be very long before Takasaki would have another chance, but chose to send a hard low pass in front of the goal that Endo completed to make it 4-0. A few minutes later defender Ozawa would take the ball in on a fast break and almost certain goal. The keeper ran out and intercepted in the penalty area, and Ozawa's fall brought about a foul and a penalty kick. It was a tough call that could have gone either way. Contact to Ozawa was minimal, but the sliding block clearly was made not at the ball but as an attempt to stop the forward momentum. The crowd started yelling Endo's name to give him the chance to have a hat trick, and although he had never taken a kick like this before the team gave him the chance. He converted, and the 5-0 score would hold until the final whistle.

Endo has shown remarkable improvement this year, and especially recently. After two years of regular league play as a forward (although rarely as a starter), participation in satellite league matches, and even perticipating for the U-19 national team, he finally scored his first goal this yearin league play. Previously he'd made many glaring mistakes in passing or having the ball stripped away, but his incredible speed and effort kept him in the squad. Now skills are catching up with desire and he's becoming a strong talent. It remains to be seen if he will become a starting forward, as he only started against Fukuoka as Yoshihara had a slight leg strain and sat on the bench. And honestly against Wednesday's Fukuoka team, Yoshihara or anyone else may have been able to score 3 goals. Still, it's good to see him mature and he seems to still have a lot of possibility for improvement.

The next game is against Yokohama FC, then Tokushima, then Ehime, Tosu, and Tochigi. It isn't reasonable to expect the winning streak to continue and to take at least 12 points from these matches. Only 9 points seperates Mito from the promotion spots and the match against current leaders Shonan on August 5 may be the most important one to both teams during that part of the season.

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