….as some of you know I have been coaching the girls varsity soccer team at the high school where I teach. As some of you may know I was also a coach for the boys soccer team in 2008 when we went undefeated and won the Championship, a first in 26 years. I have been to the post season before, I know what it is to coach a championship team.
The girls team is not that team. We started the season getting humiliated 12-2, 10-1, 10-2, but we worked, we adjusted, we fought, and it started to change. 5-2, 2-0, then we began to win, and now, now we sit on the eve of our quarterfinal game. We fought our way into the 4th seed spot for the post season and with that gained a home field advantage for the game.
Today it rained all day, and instead of practicing inside in a crowded gym I told the ladies we would be outside on the practice field. We had work to do and we needed the field. Our defense needed practice containing and pushing to the outside and our offense needed practice penetrating through the defense.
So we went out there, and through the rain and the wind we practiced. I yelled, I directed, I cheered, and then I challenged them. The defense was looking strong….against our offense. So I challenged the defense to go 2 on 1 and stop me. So they did.
My first approach they contained and pushed me and I had no shot.
The second one I used my speed and foot work faked them out and scored.
I reminded them to always watch the waist of the person you are defending, they were faked out by my foot work.
The third attempt they contained and pushed me away from the goal. I show wide because they cut my angle.
They cheered and pointed at me, celebrating in my failure.
The fourth attempt I shot from 30 yards out and put it in the upper right corner catching the defense and goalie completely off guard. I pointed to them but let is slide because the drill was about defending withing 20 yards.
The fifth attempt they contained me, they pushed for the ball, I popped it by them, used my size and strength to muscle by them. The goalie came running out and it was going to come down to a step, she slid, cleats up but I didn’t veer off, I tapped the ball around her into the goal, got clipped in the knee by her sliding cleat, but stayed up.
They were heated and they challenged me to one more. I dribbled in, I couldn’t fool them with foot work, they were getting their bodies into a defensive position blocking me from the goal. They were hanging 5 feet off of me letting me do my fancy foot moves and waste energy. They were playing me perfectly. I kicked the ball past one and chased, the other individual kicked the ball, I took it straight in the chest and kept running, the goalie came out and this time slid body first for the ball, there was nothing I could do, she grabbed the ball and I had to jump her to avoid collision.
There was nothing I do. The defense contained me, I had to make a bad kick and hope I could beat them, but I couldn’t. They stopped me.
After the practice I told them very straightforwardly that if they can stop me, and they remember the tactics of containing and pushing toward the corner, give them 5 feet to do their foot tricks and watch their waste that no one will get through.
So as the rain pours down outside and I pray the field will drain before 3:30 tomorrow I am confident that we have a real shot at tomorrow’s quarterfinal game.
Tomorrow could be historical, or just another day. You see the girls varsity team has never made it past the first round of the post season in the history of the school.
A victory tomorrow will make every grueling minute of work we have put into the season worth it.
We will see what tomorrow brings.
The fifth attempte