Beaten, Battered, Bruised and Triumphant – Another Soccer Season Ends

Well, another soccer season has come to a close.  This weekend my daughter Erin's team, the Twin City Youth Soccer Association Lady Reds (U-15) of which I'm the assistant coach, played in the 2008 adida's Challenge Clash at Bryan Park in Greensboro.  The girls won both games yesterday, one against a team that had beaten us twice earlier this season, and were guaranteed a spot in the tournament final this afternoon regardless of the result of this morning's game.  As it happened the team we faced this morning was the other undefeated team in our bracket so essentially we were guaranteed to play them twice today.  The team was from Triangle and they were tough, well coached and very skilled.  Our girls managed to squeak out a tie in the morning game and then two hours later lined up for another go at 'em.

Before I tell you the result let me tell you that our girls showed more gumption than most teams I've been around either as a player or a coach.  In between today's games the medical tent had at least five of our girls in there getting treatment for sprains, strains and contusions. The girls also knew how big and tough this team they were going to play was because those were the same girls that sent them to the tent in the first place. I should emphasize that the Triangle team did that with hard, clean play and not dirty soccer.  Still, our girls eagerly laced em up and went out to try and win a championship.

For the most part the game was played in our defensive end.  Those Triangle girls really were very good, very athletic and very well coached.  Unfortunately one of our girls had a blatant hand violation in the penalty box that resulted in a penalty kick (and goal) for them.  A few minutes later one of our defenders got tangled up with one of their players in the box, and although it clearly wasn't a foul another penalty kick was awarded that resulted in a goal.  I'm going to be generous and say the ref had a bad day and leave it at that.  Anyway, we entered half time down 2-0.

In the first 25 minutes of the second half we again survived a bunch of action in our own defensive end and honestly I thought the girls were going to just try and make it through the game without breaking something or giving up another goal.  I should have known better.  For the last 10 minutes they fought and scrapped and managed to finally get a goal with three minutes left.  They kept pouring it on and had another couple of chances before the whistle blew and it was all over.

At the end of the day our girls played the best tournament they've had in the three seasons Erin and I have been involved.  They made the finals and gave a very strong team all they could handle.  It was a sight to behold.

As for me, well I managed to get a ref to yell at me for the first time since I've been the assistant coach.  I thought she'd done a terrible job the whole game and with about ten minutes left one of our girls got steamrolled and when I didn't hear the whistle I pulled a John McEnroe and yelled "You've GOT to be kidding me."  Then she blew the whistle and yelled at me to hush up and if I'd given her the chance she was getting ready to blow the whistle.  In my head I said, "This year would've been nice" but out of my mouth came "Sorry."  It cracked the girls on the bench up, but it was a little embarrassing.

My hat's off to our head coach Mac, who dealt with all the crap with the club, the league and the tournaments and never once lost his cool.  It ain't easy being the go-between for 16 fifteen-year old girls, their families and a youth sports bureaucracy but somehow he did it.  Now he'll be able to do his day job uninterrupted for a few months and we'll all get our weekends back for a while.

And of course there was our team manager Rick.  He must have sent out 10,000 email this season and made just as many phone calls in an effort to get us where we needed to be on time and ready to play.  I'm not sure what we would of done without him.

We also had a great bunch of parents on this team.  They were all very positive, never getting down on the girls and never yelling objectionable things at the opponents or the refs. Heck, if anything they were too nice, but I'll take that over the prima donna parents any day.  Not to be overlooked is their time commitment in getting their girls to the practices and games and I hope we were able to communicate our appreciation to them adequately.

Finally, I have to say that these girls were a true joy to coach.  I'm not sure how much good we did them, but they did a world of good for us.  They made us laugh, a lot, and roll our eyes at all the stories about boys and school, and boys and boys and in the process only drove us a little bit crazy.  What more can you ask from a bunch of teenage girls?  Thanks Lady Reds.

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