Sweet Sixteen

Europa, Capricornus 8, 249

Top row - The Captains;  Bottom row - League Leaders

Top row - The Captains;  Bottom row - League Leaders

For some, this represents a coming of age party – a celebration of one’s ascension.

For others, a field of the finest sixteen competitors.

Shouldn’t the Team Captain be your best player? 

Shouldn’t the Team Captain be your best player? 

For MAFL, who are those “Sweet Sixteen” – the finest competitors who have come of age?

Let’s start with the 8 Captains of the league.

Here they are listed in order of their team’s ranking and their goal totals after Week 13.  

If best player equals highest scorer, then only 3 teams satisfy this statement: the Immortals, Al’amal, and Dynamo. Each of these team’s top scorers are their Captains, with a combined 17 goals so far.

For the other 5 captains, they have scored a combined 3 goals to date.

“There’s more to being a Captain than just scoring goals”, said Ware. “There are intangible leadership skills that don’t show up in the stats – being mentally strong, communicating with your teammates, and motivating them - it all comes down to winning and right now we’re 12 and 1.”

If we extend this logic, then let’s also give a passing grade to Captain Bradley of the Comets for helping his team deliver a 9 and 4 record and sole possession of 2nd place.

As for Fuchs, Hachette, Lian – their teams are near the bottom, and combined they have two goals to date – which means to date, they get failing grades.

Now for the players who have ascended their games – we go to the rest of the top scorers in the league.

And 5 of those eight are women with forwards Al’amal’s Arwa Farra (5 goals) and the Comet’s Liddell Marsh (3 goals); and three attacking defenders in Titans’ Maria Fernanda Carballal, Dyanmo’s Mriya Nikitova, and Wuji’s Marysa Waaijer – each with 3 goals.

The Titans’ Readale Nash (the Cash) is challenging Lanka Legend for individual supremacy with 7 goals; Dongji’s Darkeem Dennis has an impressive 4 goals; and the Comet’s Stephen Liu’s deft defensive style has also enabled his attacking offence with 3 goals.  

However, has success gotten to the heads of our Sweet Sixteen? In the past two weeks, only three of our Sweet Sixteen have scored.

Or have defences adjusted to keep stars like Lanka, Baddour, and Petrovich  and Nash scoreless over the past two weeks?

Has season fatigue begin to kick in with Readale Nash at the tender age of 17? Or Darkeem Dennis who at 27 years of age hasn’t scored since Week 8?

 “Long season. Teams do make adjustments”, said Lanka. “I’ve had some scoring chances over the past two matches but just nothing to show for it. Thankfully, we won one of those two matches. Hopefully things I’m working on in practice can help us down the playoff stretch”.

Perhaps we should wait until that playoff stretch is over before throwing out that coming out celebration. After all, our Sweet Sixteen invites may change by then.