Last night, my soccer team (the one I coach) won their first region game this year by a margin of 3-2 against one of our rivals. The game was easily the best team effort I’ve seen in the history of the program; including the game we won 10-1 playing a man down the whole game with no subs. It was a come from behind win with many dramatic moments, pk’s (penalty kicks for you non-soccer fans), and injury, all on the hottest day of the year so far.
At half-time we were tied 1-1 after a late, gritty, all-effort goal for us. It wasn’t our best half, but we kept ourselves in the game by fighting hard and refusing to give up. Our focus at half-time was less on tactics and more about playing for each other and sacrifice. Our team has the talent to win a lot of games this year, but we are still fairly inexperienced and, like many all-girls teams, there can be underlying drama and tension among ourselves.
I told the girls before the game I didn’t care about the weather and how hot it was – everyone was playing in the heat. I didn’t care about little owwies and boo boos that hurt (but I do care about real injuries, for the record). I cared about who was willing to work hard and push themselves for the sake of their teammates.
During pre-season, in the middle of sprints, I often
told ok, yelled to, the girls
1. It pays to be a winner and
2. Your body can go farther than your mind will let it.
Last night, we saw, felt, and enjoyed these truths first hand. Our girls came out of half time fighting and willing to sacrifice for each other. Each person gave more than they thought they were capable and each person executed their role with a mind for their teammates. Tactically, we had to switch positions, players, and formations several times and the girls embraced each new challenge and gave their best effort.
In the last minutes of the game, with the other team pushing all out, we maintained possession and kept playing our style of game. We refused to let down and there were several instances of girls playing beyond their skill or fitness level to make a play for the team. Their bodies pushed harder than their minds thought possible and it paid off.
All in all, I’m thrilled for the first region win of the season, but I’m even more impressed and excited about the sacrifice the girls made for each other. The challenge now is to continue the momentum and fight to remain united against continued obstacles. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the win!