Bellevue 2-2 Lake Washington
On Thursday, we welcomed LW to Bellevue Stadium to renew a very tightly contested rivalry. We've played LW five times since I've been at Bellevue, and each game has been competitive with very little to separate the two teams. And Thursday was no different; although it certainly didn't start out that way. We began the game very brightly, aggressive in the tackle and looking to combine all over the field. However, in the ninth minute, the LW left winger curled in a hopeful ball towards our box and our goalkeeper and last defender both got very deferential with each other, like two very polite drivers at a four-way stop sign frozen on the line waiting for the other to go first. But in soccer, someone has to instinctively take the initiative and get into the intersection. Take responsibility, and clear that ball. We didn't, the LW forward did, and we were down 0-1 on LW's first attempt on goal.
After the goal, we continued to fly into challenges and provided cover for each other. The theme of the week at training has been defensive shape. We put a huge emphasis on providing adequate pressure on the ball, cover D behind, and balance across the entire field. And we were much better on Tuesday and Thursday in doing just that. However, even if you are in a good position to press & cover, if we mis-calculate on the tackle from both the press and cover defender, then bad things can happen. In the 27th minute, the LW defender cleared a big looping ball towards our left flank, we missed the first clearance (it happens) but had adequate cover; but the cover defender took a slightly aggressive angle and got beat down the line. The LW winger crossed (shot? shassed?) the ball towards our goal and miraculously it found the top left corner of the net leaving IssyS with nothing to do but retrieve the ball and we were down 0-2. To be fair, it was probably a beautiful shot, not a lucky cross. Either way, it hurt.
Half-time whistle and we were frustrated. We felt that from the balance of play we were the better team in the first half, but found ourselves in another multi-goal deficit. Halftime stats: LW 4 shots/2 corners. BHS 10 shots/1 corner.
We continued our statistical advantage in the second half, winning duals and testing the very solid LW goalkeeper. But still no goals for BHS. But sometimes to break the funk, it takes a moment of individual brilliance. We got that magic from Grace in the 51st minute. She picked up a ball forty yards from goal and surrounded by four LW defenders; she split the first two, and dropped the shoulder around the last two before depositing the ball into the lower left corner of the goal. It was a goal of beauty. A goal of the highest degree of difficulty that Grace made look very simple. The score was 1-2 LW but the game was suddenly electric. For the last 29 minutes, our girls worked tirelessly to get the equalizer. Every passing minute got more pressure-packed. Finally, we earned a corner in the last minute of the game, and Courney sent a curling ball to the far upper corner for the tying goal we had been so desperate to score. Pandemonium from our bench and the players on the field. Final whistle 2-2. Ten minutes of overtime also failed to break the deadlock.
We played well enough to beat LW, but never had I been so happy to earn a tie than I was on Thursday (and I don't like ties). To get beat would've been terribly cruel given how well the girls performed. So we'll take the single point for a tie and move forward.