By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
To mitigate the hunger of a fan base starved for more Kronum League action, we’ll be bringing brief weekly updates of current adult rec league action, in addition to a weekly question-and-answer session. For further Kronum information, you can check out the league’s official website at www.kronum.com.
Nimble Jacks wedgeback Pete Weiss finished third in the league in saves and second in save percentage last season, while also leading the league in goal zone points. He sat down with me to discuss the art of wedgebacking, his down low post-up game, and what it is he’s always yelling about out on the field.
As a guy with extensive experience as a goalkeeper in soccer [Pete was first team all-DELCO at Springfield high school before playing at West Chester University, where he started his junior and senior years], were there any habits you had to break coming to Kronum? What adjustments did you have to make to your game?
Habits to break where that I couldn’t come out as far as maybe I wanted to, and being able to catch the ball. Once you leave the goal zone, you can’t catch it [in kronum], so you have to figure out where you’re deflecting it and put it in an area where they’re not going to get a quick rebound. In soccer, everything needs to be a catch or you need to get it away, or they’re going to get a quick goal.
Another thing that’s a big change is the shots from the hands being a totally different type of reading. Reading a soccer shot, you read their hips, their feet, where their body is positioned and where they’re striking the ball. When those guys are jumping in from the flex, they could be looking one way and the shot is going another way. We have a lot of great shooters in the league and it’s really difficult to read where the ball is coming off and you have less time to react.
So when you have an upcoming opponent that you know is going to primarily be using their feet, such as the Urban Legends, is that a match-up you relish having because that’s something you feel more comfortable with? Or are you not worried about that at this point in your career?
I would definitely play the Urban Legends every week if possible, just due to their foot style. When they’re putting the ball on the ground, that’s something I’m more familiar with. I’m able to read the passes, when to come out, when to stay back, and read the ball coming off their feet. I’d rather be facing them than the Phil Cavalcantes and the Kyle McGraths every week. They’re flying in from the flex and it’s really tough to see where they’re shooting the ball. They can put it wherever they want and you have less time to relax. Usually from the ground, it’s [the ball’s] coming down-up, but when they’re shooting from the air, the ball could stay up, be bounced, there’s just more you can do with the ball.
You’re earned the reputation as one of, if not the best, guys to have at wedgeback to save an opposing penalty shot. Is there any particular strategy you use when you’re back there or is it pure reaction?
It’s a lot of reaction. I know Anderson from the Urban Legends started the planted penalty shot which makes it tougher. Usually, right when they take that first step, I’m able to come out and cut off that angle and have time to read their body language. Most people shoot it with their hands, but since it’s from the top of the point, it gives you a little more time to react and try to get in the way to make the save. I think that’s a big advantage, and you got to have the quick feet to get a good jump on it. Still, even with the penalty shot, if guys are hitting their spots, especially top corners, nobody’s going to be able to save it. So I would say trying to get that quick jump off the back line is the big thing to making saves on penalty shots.
On the offensive side of the ball, you’re always up there in ring points, goal zone points. Where does your background for scoring down low come from and what do you try to bring to the table offensively?
When I was kid growing up, basketball was one of my main sports. I was always a little taller than most of the kids, and a little chubbier, so they put me down on the blocks. So I would work on my big man moves, those post moves. So I feel really comfortable around the goal zone area and if they’re [his teammates] cutting from the other side, I’m rounding to the back post to be open for a pass. I’m also setting a pick up top so when Scott [Kennedy] is coming at the point, I’ll set the screen and he can either come off me and take the shot or hit Geiger with the pass and I’ll roll to the goal zone. Playing basketball when I was younger and playing in the lane, that’s where my background for playing in the goal zone comes from.
Finally, you’re a guy who’s always yelling things out on the field, but with the mouthpiece in, it’s hardly ever clear just what you’re saying. What are you saying out there?
Most of the time, I’m saying ‘Watch quick’. After we get a quick score, their wedgeback is taking the ball out of the net and they’re trying to get a quick transition. So it just alerts the team that they’re clearing the ball and we need to be ready. If they get a quick transition to the point and one of our wedgebacks or rangers are sleeping and not playing defense on it, they’re going to get a good look. You don’t want to get a 2 and then give up a quick 4. Usually I’m yelling ‘watch quick’, and I might be yelling ‘switch it’. Luckily, the Nimble Jacks have become accustomed to what I’m saying [for the most part, speaking from personal experience], and understand it moreso than the other team. Which is in our benefit, because if the opponent doesn’t know what I’m saying, it’s always a good thing.
It’s like you’re speaking in code, but you’re not really, it’s just hard to pick up.
Yeah the code is just mumbles. Mouthguard mumbles.
This interview was slightly edited for conciseness and clarity.
Adult Rec League Week 5 Action
(4-1) Dirty Mike and the Boys 61, (2-3) Bronum 58 [Shootout]
It looked like Bronum had this game won, leading by 14 midway through the second half before the Boys stormed back to within one possession. Still, in the closing seconds, Shaun Stevens and Ryan McGlensey combined to stop a Ryan Maley shot to preserve what looked like a Bronum victory. However, the referee put one second back on the clock and the Boys found Jeff Emme for an alley-oop in the goal zone at the buzzer, sending the game to a shootout. In the sudden death shootout, Phil Cavalcante’s attempt bounced off the crown, and Joe Petrino sank his shot, completing the unlikely comeback for Dirty Mike and the Boys.
(1-5) Ole Miss Alum 71, (3-3) nWo 68
At long last, Ole Miss was able to close out the final minutes of the game to find themselves in the victory column for the first time this season. With Ryan Tressler having a big game from the flex zone, Ole Miss was able to stay just ahead of an nWo attack led my Matt Charleston for the majority of the game. Still, nWo had a chance to win the game on their last possession, but Ryan Kirby’s kick from the cross zone was just off the mark, starting the celebration for Ole Miss.
(3-2) Twerk Horses 92, (2-3) Urban Legends 83
In the final minute of a back-and-forth affair, Horses ranger Matt Thornton stepped up to the penalty spot with his team holding on to a slim 2-point advantage. Thornton let a kick rip, deflecting off the wedgeback and improbably going up through the rings for 6 points. On the ensuing possession, Mike Ragan looked for a foul call on a shot attempt from the cross zone, but the whistle remained silent and he would have no chance to answer with a 6 of his own to possibly bring his team back into the game. After Kyle McGrath sank one final penalty shot to make it a two-possession game, the Horses were able to ride off victorious.
(4-1) The Prospectors 100, (2-4) Urban Legends 64
After a tough battle in the first round of their double-header, the Legends looked gassed against the high-powered assault of the Prospectors. Dan Geiger ran things from the middle while Tim Leonard had a nice scoring game on the outside as the Prospectors built a 20+ point lead very early in the second half. The Legends tried to go for the rings right away but weren’t able to get anything going and the Prospectors ran away with things.
(3-3) Farris Wheels 82, (3-3) Air Pops 78
The Wheels held a double digit lead for the majority of this game behind the arms of Steve Botta and Steve Fariss. When they extended their lead over 20 points midway through the second half, it looked like Week 5 was going to end with another blowout. However, Matt Parsons and Stephen Vandenburg each hit an 8-point kronum in the closing minutes as part of a furious Pops comeback. The lead was then trimmed to as little as one in the final minute. After the Wheels were intentionally fouled and sank the penalty shot to extend the lead to four points, the Pops had one final shot to tie the game, but a 4-point attempt by Vandenburg found only the side netting. The Wheels survived in what was a well-played game by both sides.