I have been thinking lately about aspects of the game that when executed with much skill looks beautiful—exudes virtue.
Certain things can be done by a single player such as a perfect hitch to get the goalie to jump followed by the perfect lob that the goalie looks at as if watching a horror movie, with the foreknowledge that nothing he can do will prevent the inevitable. Tony Azavedo seems to be a perfectionist at this move.
I remember the story of Tony Azavedo perfecting a shot wherein he catches a strong side pass on the perimeter, fakes a sweep shot (which draws the defender and the goalie to the near side), spins to a back hand (causing the goalie to lunge cross cage) bringing the ball back around to skip near-side.
Goalies blocking one-on-nones or worse odds with feats of water acrobatics that seemingly requires a temporary hold on the laws of gravity. Or the reverse: shooters who, once having reached full height and extended torso to shoot the ball somehow manage to pause for one, two, three moments: an impossible feat; before taking the shot long after the goalie has dropped and been summarily beaten.
Aspects of play that are less grandiose can, in my opinion, look just as beautiful. Helping back on 2-meter so quickly that each stroke is a work of timed perfection, only to hip-over and storm back out to the outside defender when necessary.
Two players passing on 6-on-5 wherein they turn every catch into a fake and turn every fake into a pass. To execute this so well that no one can predict when the shot will come.
Passing by teams in, out, and back into well guarded territory, such as a “Greeny” play into two meters, out to a driver for what appears to be a shot, only to have the two meter player drift away from his defender, pop-catch-and-shoot a pass back from the driver.
Perfect 6-on-5 coverage where every defender communicates, adapts to each pass, and shot blocks all possible lines that can lead to the cage.
Counter attack drills to offense where every one of the offensive players has their head on a swivel, envisions the best ways to gain advantage, and sets up the last player to receive the perfect scoring opportunity.
Counter drills to defense where defenders have their head on a swivel, sees the impending advantage the offensive team intends to exploit, and communicates as a team to disrupt and regain balance.