BHS 1-1 Liberty 2OT
It had to end sometime. So after 270 minutes of shutout soccer to begin the 2019 season, we allowed our first goal on Tuesday. As I told the girls today at training, it's difficult to simulate some soccer situations on the practice ground, and the best learning experiences are from exactly that: from experiences. So how does it feel to allow a goal when your defense has been so stingy for so long? (is it deflating, or do we grit our teeth and move forward with added determination?) What does it feel like to have to scrap your way back into the game from behind? (do we begin to hurry and panic, or continue to be patient on the ball?). These are questions that we hadn't been asked yet this season, so we got some really valuable experience against the two-time defending 2A state champs on Tuesday evening. And we are stronger for it.
The Liberty goal at the 15minute mark was against the general run of play. It was a well-struck shot, but it was all the more painful because we had created the better chances so far in the contest. But the Liberty opening goal gave the Patriots more confidence and they enjoyed more and more possession as they stretched the field as wide as the yellow lines would allow. So it was only fitting that we scored our equalizer after a good patch of play from Liberty (as they had done to us just 10 minutes earlier), Hinana deftly passing to Halle who weaved her way past two defenders before calmly slotting the ball low past the keeper at the 25th minute. Game on.
The game ebbed and flowed for the balance of play. Both teams enjoyed periods of flowing possession-based soccer that brought out the best in both defenses. Our work-rate to stay balanced and the awareness to not bite at obvious spacial traps on the wings was critical. Everyone available on our roster contributed to the effort, so whether the contribution was 10, 30, 60 or the full 90 minutes, we needed everyone to put in a hard shift in order to contain Liberty, We were never on our heels for very long, but against good opponents we must be able to absorb periods of pressure and then play our way through it. We did that against Liberty, and then demanded the same from them.
Nobody likes a tie. I'm sure both coaches felt slightly frustrated by the result tonight, as both teams had chances to score the game-winner during regulation and overtime; however, I'm proud of the lessons we earned against Liberty: What it's like to go a goal down. What it's like to play an extra 10 minutes of overtime (all Kingco varsity games go into two 5minute overtime periods if tied at the end of regulation). What it's like to play a very good team toe-to-toe and more than hold our own.
These experiences will be valuable this Saturday as we travel to a non-league triple header versus the 3A defending state champs from Gig Harbor. It will be another great test against another superb program. We will be going into the game as underdogs, as is befitting any visitor going to the defending state champs. However, only one team will walk onto the field undefeated on Saturday night. And as our girls have shown against similarly talented teams, we have a very good chance that the only undefeated team going into Saturday's game will stay that way afterwards. But it will take our very best effort. I know our girls are up for the challenge.