Senior Night

We lost last night 3-1.

I have mentioned it before- but one of the toughest things we do is the pregame talk.  We never know- pump them up?  Or chill them out?  Get them pissed off?  Or schmoopy because they are BBF forever.  Last night we did it all.  We explained that the game was special… because they were playing at home on a team full of girls that they all liked.  And they should play for the seniors.  We explained that no one (except for the coaches) expected them to win, so the pressure was off.  We explained that Gulf Breeze was expecting that we’d be an easy opponent and the night would be full of lots of GB goals.  We explained that Dave and I had done everything we could do to get them to this point and that it was up to them now.  Only they could answer the question:  Are we “there” yet (meaning, can we compete with the good teams?)

The answer?  Yes.  Hell yes!!

It was awesome.  We came out with the idea of being a lot more conservative and a lot defensive than we would normally.  The girls hate it- but its a pretty effective strategy.  There was no easing into the attack:  from the first whistle,Gulf Breeze was BRINGING IT. I definitely had several “Ohhhhhhhh shiiiiiiittttt!!” moments.  It looked a bit dodgy early on- our GK had 8 LEGITIMATE saves in the first 10 minutes.  One of our wingbacks made TWO different tackles (from behind) on two different breakaways. It was live.  It was sort of like the “Chinese” in this video:

But we hung with them.  Kept making saves.  Kept getting lucky.  The great thing, I thought.  Was that while we were totally under attack for most of the game, we still found space to play our game… several times we put 8-9 passes together.  Inside, outside, down the line.  Up the line, inside, outside, drop pass.  It was really nice.  We kept our composure- nobody lost their cool.  Nobody freaked out.  I am not going to lie, I was ready for some of them to wig out from the pressure.  But we didn’t.  We just played.  Hustled our butts off.  Made strong tackles.  Defended a BUNCH of corner kicks (which is to be expected).  And just kept playing.  Our backline played all 80 minutes.  For real.  Its one thing to play 80 minutes against a weaker opponent.  Its a totally different ordeal to play 80 minutes where you are basically defending the entire time.

Our little big gun (LBG) Madi scored AGAINST the run of play.  It was pretty much awesome.  She is going to be a great player one day.  She is THE FASTEST player with the ball that I have ever seen on the soccer field.  That says a lot, because back in my highschool soccer career, my center back and wing defenders were three members of our highschool’s 4X100 team.  I think the following two pictures pretty give you a sense of the kind of player she is:

Stepping over lunging players and charging GKs?  Its what she does.  We scored about 25 minutes in and held them until almost the half- when GB equalized.  In the second half, Gulf Breeze kept the pressure up and we couldnt keep them out of the net.

It’s not a terrible way to end the season.  The last game of the season is always difficult for me- because I am sad that our run as ended.  But today, I have been walking around with a combination of tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, because they played their asses off last night.  And they are so tight with each other.  After the game, all the girls were bawling because it was our last game for seniors…

But I feel like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders.  I am not worrying about anything today (except for this sudden influx of gray hair that I have noticed on my head.  WHA-WHAT?)  If I could choose an ending for our seniors, I obviously would have chosen the ending the included a state championship.  But I’ll take this.

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