Rather than moving the ball up the field, station to station, the T-Wolves’ back line would play it directly to Cichero, simply bypassing the midfield, and he seemed to get to every ball first; with his head, his heel, his leg, whether he trapped it or flicked it to a teammate, he was dictating the game like a fantastic point forward on the basketball court.
“We made some mistakes in the first half,” NHS coach Gordon Drummond said.
That mistake was not covering the tallest and fastest player on the pitch like a blanket, which is pretty impossible to do anyway.
The first 10 minutes were back and forth, the next 30 were all T-Wolves, who led 3-1 at the break with Cichero in the middle of all three tallies.
He got the first touch on the corner kick that eventually became Cacciatore’s first goal. He finished off Sage Moore’s cross for a goal of his own and he picked a Tiger pocket before setting up Cacciatore 12:13 before the half.
“We knew we could exploit them,” Claros said.
Maybe, but it sure helped that Cichero played like his hair was on fire and his teammates followed suit, and that it doesn’t happen, not in the same way, against anybody but the Tigers. Now the T-Wolves know what they’re really capable of and it’s a much better game than they ever played on the way to an unbeaten regular season.
You better believe the T-Wolves have the Tigers to thank.
Not only did Claros’ chessboard moves give Cichero a chance to impact the game in ways he couldn’t have from the midfield, but it left NHS’ biggest presence on the pitch, senior midfielder Matt Hockett, without a whole lot to do defensively.
And, if Claros told his players they couldn’t foul, score another one for the coach, because North committed four the whole game and none in the first half and everybody who knows the Tigers this season knows Hockett’s lethal from anywhere inside of 40 yards, but the Tigers earned no free kicks from short distance.