Bellevue 0-3 Liberty
Soccer is fun. Losing less so. Recaps are more challenging to write on difficult nights when expectations are high, and the results aren't what we want. When we played Liberty a month ago, we were beaten soundly, humbled by a good team playing flowing soccer and we barely registered a shot all night. On Thursday, the balance of play was even and competitive; which oddly makes the final three-goal deficit so much more frustrating. It's frustrating for the coaches. For the starters. For the substitutes. And especially for the girls on the roster who didn't get a chance to play against Liberty (or played sparse minutes). I understand. As difficult as it is to stomach results like Liberty on Thursday, if we are going to earn something positive from our efforts of this season, our team needs to pull together after tough losses. Disappointment is a character test. Losing is part of sport. It's a part of life. We don't have to like it, but our expectation in this program is that we win with dignity, and behave with dignity when results aren't to our liking, both as a team, and individually.
I'm not going to recap the goals we allowed. I have watched them on the video and they are seared into memory. But I will note that for long long stretches of the game, we were balanced, tough, eager and played the game in LIberty's defensive half. There were just a few technical lapses (heavy touches, turn-overs in dangerous areas, soft tackles, etc.), and against the best teams, those technical errors are magnified and exploited.
We have three games left in our regular season. We are currently tied on points with LW for third place in the league and more importantly, for the 2nd position amongst the 3A teams which would earn us entry into the league championship game vs MI (Liberty is 2A and will advance directly to the 2A state tournament where they will be heavily favored to defend their state championship...). The winner of the Kingco 3A championship game earns an immediate bid to the state tournament. The loser of that game gets a second opportunity to qualify for state by dropping into a series of must-win games to earn the final state birth.
Yes, the result versus Liberty was frustrating and disappointing, but the future isn't dark. We continue to control our destiny. But the safety net has been removed. If we win our final three games (Sammamish, Juanita and MI on senior night), we will get to play in the Kingco 3A championship game. Yes, that's what I just wrote: the Kingco 3A championship game.
I usually don't like to look backwards to past seasons, but indulge me for a moment. Last year's varsity team returned to the 3A final four for the 4th time in 5 seasons and was an unqualified success-story; however, at this exact point in the season, we had endured similar struggles. We had lost to Redmond, Liberty & MI and the season seemed poised on a precipice of under-achievement. But that team rallied late in the season, came together, found its groove, and rolled through the league and state playoffs by playing flowing, team-first soccer. Every player on that team, from the starters, to the substitutes, to those who didn't even get playing time contributed to that remarkable run of form. There were numerous examples of strong player-leadership in that team taking responsibility for how that story would end.
This year's team has the same opportunity.
The coaching staff believes this group of girls can do similarly great things. But we need to come together as a team. And the next steps in that process are three good days of training and a game at Sammamish.