BHS 3-0 @Liberty
25th min Leah (Lillian)
43rd min Leah (unassisted)
60th min Kendall (Lillian & Maddy)
Soccer can be full of oxymoron. For instance, we want players to be organized and disciplined, but with the creative freedom to try new things and be fearless in expressing themselves. We talk about playing "fierce, tough and competitive" defense while also being "poised, patient and calm" on offense. "Shoot with power...but with precise accuracy." "Cover for your teammates, but overlap in attack..." Fiercely poised? Patiently tough? Competitively calm. Most coaches are very fluent in cognitive dissonance. It's no wonder that coaches (and parents) get occasional eye-rolls from teenagers wondering why we are asking for so many seemingly impossible things. And yet we do. And to our girls' credit, they sometimes do amazingly contrary and successful things on the soccer field. We can play beautifully ugly, silkily tough, languidly quick, big and small, and sparklingly dull. But mostly we just play well. And it's working.
Liberty is, and has always been, a very talented and well-coached program. They play quick and flowing soccer. They don't just "boot it' and chase, but rather intentionally move the ball around in well-balanced patterns to keep possession. Just like we try to do too. So in one respect, we are like the duplicate Spiderman pointing meme, or two teams looking at each other through a mirror. And in tight contests between similar teams playing similar formations, it is often thin margins that determine the outcome. Fortunately, one of those "thin margins" was wearing a white #12 jersey on Tuesday, as our sophomore Leah had herself quite a night. First, in the 25th minute, Lillian received the ball at midfield and turned her defender with a great first touch, but it was the second touch that was special, an inch-perfect through ball on the ground for our right winger Leah. Leah still had some work to do, charging at the Liberty goalie from an acute angle before banging the ball off the far post for our opening goal. 1-0 Bellevue. Then in the 43rd minute, Leah got her brace, pressing high and pouncing on a loose Liberty square ball, taking a deft touch to steady herself, before smashing a low-hard shot just inside the right post. 2-0 Bellevue. Thank you Leah for being the thin margin we needed on Tuesday. Finally, in the 60th minute, we finally earned our first corner kick of the game. Maddy's cross was repelled and Hinana collected and re-fed Maddy for a second try. Maddy obliged and lobbed another ball into the box where Lillian got the first touch, and Kendall got the second, spinning a shot over the outstretched reach of the Liberty goalie. 3-0 Bellevue.
Like our game vs. MI, the final scoreline flatters us a bit. Liberty was skilled and dangerous all night. But our collective defensive effort was outstanding, and despite conceding some midfield possession, we didn't allow very many chances on our goal. And when we did, Amirah was her usual excellent self. The final stats were far narrower than usual, with a 12/1 vs. 4/3 shot/corner advantage, well below our season averages (21/4 for BHS vs. 4/1 for opponents; shots/corners).
And so we finish the first half of our Kingco season with six consecutive wins. But as we often discuss at halftime, 40 minutes does not equal a full game and halftime scores are never counted in the standings, so we have another 6 games to go to actually finish the job. And our next contest is perhaps our toughest as we host Kingco #2 Lake Washington on Thursday at 7:30 at home. LW will be eager to avenge our win from earlier this season. I expect another very tight game, but I'm secretly hoping for another one of our favorite oxymorons: the competitive blowout.