Bellevue 4-0 Mercer Island
7th min Cami (Mia & Leah)
22nd min Mia (Lillian)
30th min Hinana (Lexi & Lillian)
32nd min Lillian (Emily)
Well, the air quality issues are gone. In a game that was essentially played inside of a washing machine, our girls had a magnificent evening playing our rival Islanders in a wet, soggy and wind-swept game. Perhaps because it was MI's senior night, but the chippiness of our first encounter was absent this time around. The MI team was very thoughtful and honored our seniors during introductions with flowers; giving, and receiving, thoughtful gifts from an opponent sets a very different tone. Not that the game wasn't physical or competitive, but it was less frantic and edgy. I oftentimes tell my teams that I value an honor code in soccer: always play to your best ability with full effort into every pass, shot and tackle, and if you accidentally knock an opponent down (it happens), give them a hand and pick them up, then carry on with no less intensity than before. It's fierce effort balanced with mutual respect. And there were several hard tackles from both teams last night, but never did I feel like any were done with malice or bad intent, and both teams showed sportsmanship by helping the opponent on the ground get back up again. So full credit to players from both teams (and the refereeing crew) for keeping the game below a boiling point.
Of course, some of the sting was taken out of the game by a wonderful early goal from our girls. In the 7th minute, Leah cut back from the right wing, onto her left foot, and sent a dangerous cross into the box. Mia got a glancing header on the ball that fell to Cami. Cami sent a beautifully controlled first-touch half-volley into the far corner of the net. Celebration time. 1-0 Bellevue. What I loved about Cami's goal was her compsure to not overhit her chance, so often in these situations adreninlin quickens our tempo and we lash something well over the bar, but instead, Cami hit a smooth shot with poise and accuracy. Well done Cami.
The remaining goals all arrived in a bunch, clustered in a ten minute period of excellent play between the 22nd and 32nd minutes. In the 22nd minute, we scored an excellent team goal, rotating the ball deep through our center-backs, and across our midfieid before Lillian picked it up wide on our left side. Lill beat her defender to the inside and bazookaed a shot that the MI keeper could only parry to the underside of the crossbar bouncing out and away from the goal...where Mia was first to react and head into the net. 2-0 Bellevue. Then in the 30th minute, we scored a goal that echoed our first, this time Lily sent a perfecct free kick down our left side into space behind the MI defense for Lillian to spin and send a cross to Lexi who trapped the ball into the path of an onrushing Hinana to half-volley into the net. Beautiful. 3-0 Bellevue. Finally, two minutes later, Emily intercepted the ball at midfield and found Lillian admist a pack of Islander defenders, Lillian ducked, weaved, dodged, and cut-back before firing a low shot past the outstretched goalkeeper from 25 yards. 4-0 Bellevue, both half-time score and full-time score.
A huge thank you to the parent volunteers on duty for parkas, blankets and shelters. On night's like these, little margins gained by being slightly warmer and drier on the sidelines can make a difference. Thank you.
From one senior night we move to another. On Thursday, we honor our class of '23 in a pre-game ceremony before taking on a very good Liberty team. Liberty has only two losses on their season, one from our first meeting back in September. Plus, they will likely need a win to potentially move into the Kingco championship game against us next Tuesday. They will arrive focused and needing a victory. However, with a win we will secure a perfect Kingco season, which is a rarity in our ultra-competitive league. Regardless of result, it will be a night of memories made. See you there.