You guys know me from my previous threads, such as "Why the hell can't my soccer team play defense?" Anyway, after watching some more game action, the other coaches and I think it's a larger, more nebulous issue. Confidence. Our last game, we were playing a team that seemed similar in their skill level, around .500 like us, no overabundance of big kids, no mini-Messi, etc. The game starts (we play 4 10-minute quarters) and for the first 17 minutes of the game we are dominating them. We have the ball down their end 75% of the time, when they bring it down, we clear it out pretty quickly, etc. Unfortunately though we can't score. Then...with about 2.5 minutes left in the half, they score a bad goal. And IMMEDIATELY our kids heads drop. On the season we're 3-3. In all 3 wins we've scored 3 goals in each game, a decent number, and we've scored first. In all 3 losses we've been shutout (twice 5-0, and once 1-0). Now, the hustle is gone. They get the ball back and go right back down and score again. At halftime it's 2-0 despite us dominating the first 17 minutes. In the third and fourth quarter it's more of the same. In the first half we had the ball in their end 75% of the time. Now, it's like 15%. They score a goal in the 3rd and in the 4th and we lose 4-0. We coach them up, the parents are great, and we do have a few kids still going all out, but the change is obvious. Our top player, who's playing midfield is suddenly not coming back to help and is further upfield than our strikers. We have a regular season game left and then the city tourney, which is what really matters. Any ideas on how to get 11 and 12 year old to keep their heads up? We have the offense to come back from being down 1 and even 2 goals, but not if the hustle and belief goes away. And, of course, it's not that coming back to win is the main thing here, it's just getting them not to give up. In fact, even in our wins, despite scoring first, we had to come back from 2-1 deficits. But if the other team scores first, it's over.