Women's college formation/tactics discussion.

Discussion in 'Women's College' started by themaestro, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. themaestro

    themaestro Member

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    Nov 9, 2005
    Do most women's teams play in a 433 now? (including a lot of the related formations)

    Curious as to what a lot of women's teams play, and not just in DI, but DII and DIII as well. From what I watch, I see a lot in a 433, not really that many in a 442 type of formation and really not many at all in a 3 at the back nowadays. Obviously there are a lot of exceptions with so many teams around.

    Any input is appreciated. I love tactics and formation discussions so I enjoy all talk, lineups, anything.


  2. Why Not!

    Why Not! Member

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    3-5-2 / 3-4-3....at D III, it all depends on personnel
  3. UNC4EVER

    UNC4EVER Member

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    Sep 27, 2007
    IMO, the choice of tactics completely overwhelms the choice of formation. With a few fundamental caveats, its How any system gets played that determines its dynamics on the field. That's why we end up with so many descriptions of formations that have more than three numbers... and even so, we still often fail to really capture the energy of the tactical choices...

    That said, the flat-back 3-4-3 continues to be the touchstone formation for UNC-CH. In addition to its long history of success, it is the formation that several current key players have delicately suggested that they came to UNC expecting (and wanting) to play. Coach Dorrance has suggested it may now be too vulnerable in the face of improving competition, with the result that UNC has yo-yoed between formations in 2011. In the final analysis, I would suggest that 3-4-3 is a long way from being off the table. My guess is that UNC will seek ways to play it better in 2012. Were UNC to finally abandon a 3-4-3, I do not think they would embrace a 4-3-3. Neither do I think this would win favor among the top tier of other D1 teams. I think 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 would be more likely choices among UNC and its top competitors, the reason being that at that level many midfield/defensive players are very mobile and dangerous on attack, and having some real beef and ball control in the midfield would seem more important in a game increasingly focused on possession, than the number of strikers up top. However, to return to my initial point-- it really is more about the energy and tactics that develop out of a formation, rather than the head count in any particular unit.

    These are just my thoughts, and comments on one program I know fairly well. I'll be interested to hear what other folks think their favorite programs will do, and also interested if folks think there are any real differences in (formation) approach between D1, D2, D3 teams?
  4. UNC4EVER

    UNC4EVER Member

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    I'm surprised this thread is not getting more traffic/comments.

    I find the concept really interesting and am surprised more folks are not weighing in?

    As example, I was involved with a (girls) youth team, where (for a variety of reasons), we decided to play a 2-4-4 (yeah, that's right! no typo.) We expected a score-fest competition. In point of fact, our goals-against declined in a very competitive u-12 environment. It turned out that having a mass of players advanced on the field improved our confrontation effectiveness, while two good defenders (at that age) were more than capable of containing the combination skills of a gaggle of opposing young midfielders/strikers. In addition, it was a real teaching opportunity, because we got to discuss as a team (i) how can we do better with two what others do less well with four? and (ii) why does this not work with the WNT; how do tactics change as players mature? It really got the kids thinking about the game, exploring position roles, and how these change with age, without boring them with lecture, and simultaneously encouraging them with a great winning season!

    In the same vein (fitting players to circumstance), I don't think you can play a 3-4-3 unless you are among the top teams (depending on the depth) in your conference. Otherwise, you are too vulnerable to counter-attack.

    I think there is a lot to be explored at the college level with 4-4-2; 3-5-2; 4-5-1; and perhaps also 4-3-3 (?). Each team is unique, yet from my experience with this 2-4-4 u-12 powerhouse, I am surprised there are not more coaching stories that might be informative?


  5. DemitriMaximoffX

    DemitriMaximoffX Member

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    Aug 19, 2006
    Always thought it'd be nice to try and assemble a compendium of who's playing what formation at the moment. Off the top of my head from last season:

    3-4-3 - Missouri, North Carolina (also played 4-2-3-1)
    3-5-2 - Illinois
    4-3-3 - Duke, Georgia, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Virginia, Wake Forest (also played 4-4-2)
    4-2-3-1 - Florida, Florida State

    Anyone care to fill in some blanks? Would be fun to have a complete-ish guide to follow formation trends in the college game.
  6. Cliveworshipper

    Cliveworshipper Member+

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    Dec 3, 2006
    UP -- diamond 4-4-2 since 1996. Before that they played 3 in the back. The only real changes over those years is how many players they got forward.

    Last year And in 2002 they experimented with a 4-3-3.
  7. themaestro

    themaestro Member

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    Nov 9, 2005
    Some good info in here, thanks.

    UNC, it's interesting you mentioned a 244. The look on their faces when we talked about going 244 in training was priceless...haha. Had a similar experience as what you described, the opposition had so much difficultly playing with our pressure up front they really never got anything going other than easily dealt with long balls...we were in their half the majority of the game. It was very much a 442 we started with and began to pressure more and more as the game went on in this case.

    As you said earlier, formation vs tactics is a big key in all this.
    We all know what you put as your written formation doesn't really tell the whole story, the positions your players occupy during the match and how they play is what is telling. Obviously all coaches don't play the same 433, for example.

    What characteristics do you all see with these 3 at the back schools? Especially when teams are playing 3 at the back against 3 (good) forwards on the opposition? Wing backs tracking back to help defend, a DM dropping in as an extra CB ala Busquets? Or just a 3v3? :eek: I still see a few with an old-fashioned Sweeper sitting way back.
  8. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

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    Feb 12, 2012
    About a year ago our G16 coach started pushing my daughter/keeper up to about the 25 and the 4 (4-4-2) defenders to the half. Every through ball the keeper would get first, and the girls could not chip and score from 50+ yards. I know guys could - which is my point/question. Do you see that due to the physical differences between men and women the formations should be different?

    Having watched only about 10 college games I see the keepers pretty much stay on their lines, when it seems, unlike in the guys game, they could go way out.
  9. Morris20

    Morris20 Member

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    Washington Freedom
    You're watching crappy teams, most likely. Most even crudely organized teams can solve that. Like by playing through balls in a wider channel, or getting behind the defense on the flank and attacking serves with the defense facing their own goal (for instance) or just have a really quick target player and get a quality serve behind the backline but in front of the keeper. A decent forward should be able to finish in that situation.

    I'm thinking your daughters team plays in a pretty localized league.
  10. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

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    Except no. Done in Natioanal League against Got Soccer #2 at that time, Done against ECNL finalist, and a bunch of other top 20 ECNL and USYSA teams. There are scores, but not from that.

    That's why I found it interesting.
  11. Morris20

    Morris20 Member

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    I thought it was interesting when a local high school had some success with it 20 years ago. You've just provided a pretty damning indictment of the coaching at that level . . . (or at least the influence of coaching)
  12. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

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    Feb 12, 2012
    It seems to bring any credibility to this discussion I need to do some defending first.

    Video clip below is two teams at that time ranked top 10 in G16.
    It was not solved by at least 5-6 other top 20 teams.

    TX and CA - playing in NC.
    I don't know what level you speak of. This team's coach has 25 year coaching girls, also a previous Nike coach of the year and the other coach is a former youth WNT coach.

    I find it interesting. I didn't say it was pretty:http://youtu.be/AbqOOXiHICI
  13. Morris20

    Morris20 Member

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    You also didn't mention the game was played in pretty extreme weather conditions.
  14. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

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    Feb 12, 2012
    Do you think it was a good move by the coach based on the weather?

    That was the first it was tried. Note this was a player doing what the coach asked. It actually didn't look so good having a keeper that didn't use her hands. I'd prefere not to post more videos.

    This has since been done many times in normal weather and has not been beaten. Of course that is only when you can get the back four to the half. Many times the play is in the defending half and it looks like normal soccer - and goals are scored.
  15. CVAL

    CVAL Member

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    In a flat back four the keeper should play a Sweeper/Keeper role. Guys do this as well as girls staying on your line is just bad goalkeeping.

    This does depend on where the ball is on the pitch of course but staying on the line bad very bad.
  16. Morris20

    Morris20 Member

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    Yeah, I completely understand why a coach with an athletic keeper would try that given the conditions . . . and you've got to think that in the long term the fact that it's kind of a curve ball, combined with low levels of organization and limited training/scouting are helping the strategy succeed.

    If it works I don't see why you'd change things, but it's certainly not an ad for the ability of coaches to teach teams to adjust tactically. The next step is to have the keeper step up IN FRONT of the defenders and simply trap everyone - the problem with that is that the referees forget you need TWO defenders to be onside not just the centerback - and it's been 40 years since UCONN used that strategy to some effect.
  17. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

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    The difference I see is many many guys can boot is from their half into the goal. Girls - not so many both is distance ability and the way they are wired (to not take those high risk shots).
    As such I think it is very useful in the women's game and not so much in the guys game.
  18. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

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    Why have the keeper in front of the defender? Wouldn't having a defender trap everyone do the same? Nobody has hands available, and the keeper may need hands near the PA.
  19. wallacegrommit

    wallacegrommit Member

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    Was your daughter's team better than those teams, or did they lose? You cannot play like that if you don't have the better team, because it requires being able to apply pressure on the ball up the field to suffocate attempts by the opponent to attack the defenders. There is no way the keeper can cover the entire width of the field, so if the other team is superior they don't need to chip the keeper, they will just exploit the space and get a bunch of breakaways on you. College teams can play like that if they are the better team and have the right players- the extra space can help a defender who is faster and better than the opposing striker, because they will just run everything down, but if you are going up against a Christine Sinclair or Marta type on the other team you can't cover one one one they will eat you alive with all the open room.
  20. CVAL

    CVAL Member

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    Wow not what I thought. I think on several occasions it was just good goal keeping playing sweeper/keeper. Others she was flirting with disaster basically playing sweeper with the ball in the defenses third.
  21. CVAL

    CVAL Member

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    No they can't at least with any accuracy unless or velocity the goalie cant recover. You do see it every now again off of a kick-off and then it becomes viral. But to chip a ball from mid-field in the run of play very unlikely for guys or girls.
  22. themaestro

    themaestro Member

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    Nov 9, 2005
    Wow, I loved it, love to see a young GK playing with her feet like that.
    Looks like she did/does an excellent job.
  23. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

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    I'm a dad, I didn't think this up. Coach did. We expected not to win these games. The snow game the first half this was not done, 1:0 their team, this was done the 2nd half 1:0 our team. Game was tied.

    This has been done against pretty much top 20 G17 teams. If the keeper is roughly as fast as a field player they can cover the whole width of the field because they have 20 yards on the forwards. The breakdown happens when the backs cannot hold the half. When the forwards keep the ball at their feet and take it through (skill thing). Still keeper can back pedal to goal pretty fast and we have "normal" soccer on our heals in the PA - and goals happen.

    There are a few teams we know where they have a player that will take shots from their half. This is not done then.

    IMO - if a DI school had a very fast keeper - this would at least make things interesting. On topic - it changes the lineup and position, or kind-of. 4 are needed in the back - which turns out to be the half.
  24. wallacegrommit

    wallacegrommit Member

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    Sep 19, 2005
    I see, so any breakdown isn't your daughter's fault or a flaw of the system, it is the fault of the backs.
  25. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

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    Feb 12, 2012
    Its the coache's system. They are the keeper's defenders so any ball that goes in the keeper had something to do with.

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