Bellevue 0-1 Mercer Island
A wise philosopher poet once wrote, "when the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around." (Sting, from the album Zenyatta Mondatta). Although I don't think that The Police were describing the existential angst of losing a high school soccer game against your biggest rivals on senior night, the advice from 1980 to make the best of an unfortunate post-apocalyptic situation is the lesson I'm taking. There were so many positives to take from our regular season finale: we played "front-foot" aggressive defense, working for each other and playing compact with great cover and strong tackling; for long stretches in midfield, we calmly, but quickly were moving the ball on the ground to our teammates feet, switching the point of attack and causing problems for the MI backline; And although neither team had many clear chances (I have the stats at 7 shots for MI, 6 for BHS with 4 corners apiece, effectively a statistically even contest), our limited chances were very dangerous and if not for 3 amazing saves from the MI goalkeeper, the final result would've been much different. We were strong last night. We were tough last night. And we were significantly better than we were a month ago despite the scoreline being the same.
The lone MI goal was from a corner in the 45th minute, headed back across the goal for a simple finish from close range. It happens. But it's a shame since we had been defending corners extremely well for the past few weeks and the marking breakdown was very unlike us. We'll learn from it, and be more disciplined next time.
This game was very much like the early rounds of a boxing match, both opponents sizing each other up and taking occasional jabs to determine if there are any weaknesses to exploit later. Coaches on both sidelines knew that the early rounds wouldn't determine the final outcome, the championship belt will be awarded next Tuesday evening at MI. Our loss last night stings, but is ultimately meaningless. We knew that going in. And all judges will have the fight on even points when we square-off again next week. But our players need to have the right mentality. No heads hanging low. No nerves. We need to take courage from last night. Resolve. Motivation. Mental strength and determination. We need to learn to take a punch, but then come back stronger and more eager for the next opportunity. Yes, MI won, but the game could've gone either way based upon a fingernails length of a keeper's glove.
I'm already excited about the rematch. To quote another ancient philosopher, "you have to fight, for your right...to party" (The Beastie Boys). Someone will be having a celebration next Tuesday night as Kingco tournament champions, but it will take winning a fight to earn the right. And I like our team's chances.