Bellevue 0-4 Liberty
For the first twenty minutes on Tuesday at Liberty, the game was skillfully balanced and competitive. We had created several chances, including forcing the Liberty keeper to make a fingertip save from Grace's cut-back shot; and on the other end, Liberty's touchline-wide wingers were spreading the field and giving the Patriots space inside to initiate their own attacks. The game was tight, competitive and even. Now defensive corner kicks are always dangerous. We had survived Liberty's first attempt early in the game, although we didn't exactly over ourselves in glory as we left their tall center-back completely unmarked and were fortunate she didn't get the ball; however, at the 22nd minute mark, our luck ran out. Oddly, our marking was better, but the Liberty center-back was first to the perfectly taken corner and sent a strong header back across our goal where it was poked home at the back post. The goal energized Liberty and took the edge off of our own play. The remainder of the half was contested in our defensive side of the field; but, we were keeping a good shape and working hard for each other so although we weren't a threat to score, we were managing the game and giving ourselves an opportunity to regroup for the second half. So it was devastating to concede a 2nd goal in the last minute of the half as we got beat on our left side by good Liberty combination play, their winger sent a smart pass across our box, where the opposite winger had an easy tap in at the far post.
Although the last-minute goal hurt, we had been in similar circumstances in our last game against LW and fought bravely to get a point. We expected to claw our way back into the game. We began the 2nd half optimistically, but another defensive corner kick just ten minutes into the half mostly ended our ambitions as the slippery cross eluded our attempts to clear and Liberty were first on the rebound to increase their lead to 3-0. Three minutes later we were called for a PK and the game was 4-0 and completely in the Lady Patriots control.
Confidence is an amazing thing. With confidence, players feel free to be creative, don't have to think about their first touch, and legs feel light and willing to sprint; without confidence, passes get tentative, first touches require exhaustively intense concentration and often go awry, and legs begin to feel heavy. Coaches need to find a way to impart confidence in their teams, and we are quite simply not doing our part well enough. I'm not doing my part well enough. Whether it's my choice of words at pre-game, our preparation at training, or our player management: something isn't as it should be. And it's showing up in our play. Soccer is supposed to be a game of joy, grit and competition, but when we get blown off the field in 3 of our first 5 games, it's difficult to find the joy and everything becomes grit.
Due to our first BYE week of the season, we have a few extra days to recover before we begin again on Saturday when have our last non-league game versus local 4A rival Newport. The result doesn't impact our league standings in any way, but we will go into the game searching for our team identity. We will be looking for the right combination of players who can put aside past results, and bring confidence and ambition to the field.
One of the ways to bring joy into a team, is to focus on things outside of yourself. To be selfless in service to others. Today we don't have training due to required team photos (ugh), but we do have an opportunity to support our JVC team at their annual pizza-night that honors their efforts this season. I'm hopeful that by focusing on supporting our JVC players today, our varsity girls can find some of that selfless joy that is oftentimes the special ingredient in a fun and cohesive team.