Bellevue 4-1 Juanita
I talk about playing "joyful" soccer a lot with the girls. To me, that's the reason why we play our sport. Those moments when soccer is just pure fun. Unfortunately, joy isn't something you can be instructed to do. It's organic. We do our best to add the right ingredients (tone, practice design, bonding events like team dinners, booster club support, etc.) and hope that the joy of playing well is the output. So I couldn't be happier that on senior night, I saw the joy on the faces of our players from beginning to end. It was such a special night.
First and foremost, thank you to the booster club parents who organized the evening. I thought everything was perfect: the photos, introductions, flowers, the thoughtful gifts for the Juanita seniors, the ball girls, the friends and families in the stadium. No rain. It made for a wonderful ending to our regular season. Of course, we had to take care of our part on the field. And the girls did exactly that.
As per tradition, we started an all-senior line-up, with some players enthusiastically and generously playing out-of-postion so their fellow seniors could shine. Despite the unusual positioning from some, we began the game brightly, passing quickly and simply on an evening when the turf was slick with dew. In the 9th minute, Kiley found Carlie G with a precision pass and Carlie proceeded to dribble around six defenders before slotting the ball home for a 1-0 lead. Beautiful. Ten minutes later, CarlyT polished off a sublime CarlieG cross from the top of the goal box and we were flying. 2-0 Bellevue. And a minute after that in the 19th, Jo was provider to Kiley who put an exclamation point on her Bellevue regular season career with stylish goal for a 3-0 lead. However, my favorite goal of the night was our fourth, a lovely team goal that began with a 7-8 pass combination at midfield that eventually found Del wide-open on our left wing and sprinting towards the Juanita goal, but instead of taking a shot from beyond the 18yd box, Del generously, and smartly, slipped the ball through to Courtney for the easiest of finishes directly in front of goal. It was a great team goal, and is hopefully a pattern that we will see more often as we begin our playoff journey. 4-0 Bellevue at half-time.
The second half was more ceremonial as we worked on keeping possession and not running up the score on a sporting Juanita team whose season was ending that evening. In fact, Juanita scored a nice goal to open the 2nd half which usually would drive the coaching staff crazy from the lost shut-out, but on a perfect night for soccer, I was just as pleased that we didn't have a complete monopoly on smiles and hugs in a game where the result was already secured. 4-1 Bellevue.
So many. But our #47 was a big one. In her first minutes in the soccer field all season, or ever, Kat was all smiles and even had a great chance to score early in the first half; Jo racing up the wing from left back was a revelation; coach Kay's thoughtful senior gifts of soccer stress balls; but most importantly, it was seeing how our players, seniors and non-seniors, treated each other on an emotional night. We were respectful and generous. We were confident. We played with real joy. Long may it continue.