BHS 3-0 Interlake
25th min Mia (Lillian)
39th min Lillian (Nora)
79th min Kendall (Nora)
So how does one teach empathy? Practicing empathy, whether it's in the "most important things," or the "least important things," seems like a universal truth that most people could agree makes life a little better for everyone. In my role as soccer coach, we mostly deal in "least important" issues like how we treat referees, playing time, how to get better at technique, and the relative importance of wins and losses. But as a business school professor once told me, "to do the big things well, you must pay attention to the little things." We knew that our Tuesday opponents had just suffered two consecutive lopsided defeats to LW & Juanita, teams we had beaten by duplicate 3-0 scores. Anyone who has played sports long enough likely knows how that feels on the Interlake sideline. And it's not great. So in preparation for a game in which Vegas wouldn've had us as 10 goal favorites (if Vegas set odds for girls high school soccer games), we installed a plan to level the playing field a bit. We heavily rotated the team. We invited several JV players to join us. And we discussed the delicate balance of respecting opponents with your best effort, but also respecting your opponents by showing some empathy and understanding of what is likely going to be a challenging year for the Saints on the soccer field. Pity is demeaning, but empathy is respectful. And overall, I'm very proud of how our team behaved on Tuesday. We played hard, we didn't compromise our winning attitude, we had fun, and we stayed well below the mythical 10 goal Vegas over/under.
The quality and composition of our goals was very very encouraging. It started in the 25th minute from an Interlake throw-in deep in our defensive end, Arin anticipated the throw, won the ball, and found Leah's feet in midfield. Leah spun and found Lillian's feet on the right wing, and Agent Chaos bolo'd her defender (also known as the "body meg") sprinting into space on the right wing to recollect her pass to herself. Mia was supporting play on the far left wing, gave an authoritative shout (most of the time, wanting the ball loudly and verbally is enough to actually get the ball...) and Lillian sent a perfect early ball behind the Interlake defense for Mia to smash home from 8 yards out. Simply brilliant by all involved. Overall our team communication is somewhere around a "B-" for our season, but this was an "A+" example of how to let your teammates know that you are open and want the ball. And another "A+" for the execution of the cross and one-time finish.
Then on the stroke of halftime, we doubled our lead, this time from our own throw-in deep on the Interlake left flank. Lily made a good throw to Lillian, who one-touched the ball back to Lily, Lilly sent a centering pass to freshman Nora, who did well to get the ball under control in traffic before dishing a simple square ball to Lillian..who then beat three defenders on the dribble before hitting a beautiful shot off the far post from a tight angle. Halftime whistle and we had a comfy 2-0 advantage.
During the 2nd half, we continued to heavily rotate the team, and shuffle players into new roles. Although we created dozens of chances, it took until the 79th minute to find our final goal. But it was worth the wait, a full-field 7 pass team goal that showcases how we want to play consistently. It all started with a simple goal kick. Amirah squared to Arin wide right of her goal. Arin patiently waited just long enough for Kalea to check into space and sent a simple 25yrd pass to her feet, Kalea's first touch was a simple one-touch beauty towards the touchline where an overlapping Lily from right fullback was released into space (this was a perfect example of how to break a press...). Lily found Gaby's feet in the striker position as she checked back to the ball (yes, Gaby at striker...we made some creative role rotations). And this is the key moment, instead of admiring her wonderful little 10yd square pass earlier in the combination, Kalea sprinted upfield in support of the entry pass to Gaby so all Gaby had to do was send a simple ball up the wing and we were free and clear. Kalea then found her freshman compatriot Nora with an "under" pass, Nora spun her defender before sending a breathtaking diagonal ball into Kendall's feet at the top of the Interlake box, Ken's first touch was superb and she calmly beat the keeper for one of our best team goals of the season. Almost every player touched the ball in the sequence, and we finally found a simple finish to end the game at 3-0.
The statistics reflected the balance of play: 28/8 shots/corners to Interlake's 2/0. Most importantly to me, I thought our girls conducted themselves with honor and respect for our opponent. There was an undeniable talent mismatch in this game, and the end result was never in doubt, but I thought both sides gave a very honest effort. And special kudos to the Interlake goalkeeper, who had 15 saves. In most games, if a keeper gets 4-7 saves, she's had a very busy night. 15 in a single game is almost unheard of...so well done to the Saints keeper. Next, all four players that we added to the varsity roster for tonight distinguished themselves on the field. Yes, there were a few nervy moments, but managing nerves in competition is a wonderful feeling, and all four of the girls handled themselves well. Special recognition to Nora who got 2 assists in her varsity debut. Over the entirty of her BHS soccer career, they certainly won't be her last. Finally, we posted another shutout, our 4th in 5 games. Glittering team goals will always be the highlights, but the biggest contributor to a successful season will always be our defensive organization and teamwide commitment to play tenacious D. One goal allowed in 5 games is a decent ratio. Let's hope our goals against ratio keeps getting better.
On Thursday, we host another Kingco visitor, Hazen High School. This is only the second year in the league for Hazen, so we don't have a lot of history, but I know our girls will be eager to get back on our home turf and give another spirited performance.