BHS 0-2 MI
Well, it had to end sometime. After 24 games as coach of the BHS varsity, I'm having to do a recap after a loss. A frustrating loss. In a monsoon. To our arch-nemesis rivals.
And to make matters worse, MI earned their victory. We were outshot, outplayed, and out-coached. And as I told some of my seniors after the game, there isn't time for sulking or depression, in less than 48 hours we play another competitive Kingco game against LW who will certainly see the score from tonight and be eager to inflict more damage on the defending champs. It's our job as coaches and players to quickly identify as many lessons as we can in defeat, learn from it, and make adjustments in the areas we were lacking tonight. Quickly.
The beginning of the game foreshadowed the final result, as we took the kick-off, passed nervously backwards, then square, then backwards again, then promptly gave up a corner within 10 seconds. From our own kick-off. Sigh. Not the way we wanted to set the tone. But despite our shaky start, we played reasonably well for the first 18 minutes. It wasn't particularly beautiful, but other than giving up 4 corner kicks in the first 15 minutes (all were dangerous), we held our own and looked just as likely to open the scoring as the hosts. In fact, in the 8th minute, a well played diagonal ball from Kiley unlocked CarlieG on the right wing, who cut inside the keeper and looked likely to score when an MI defender made a great play to block her shot at the last possible moment. And just a few minutes later, Kiley again found CarlieG on a cross-field switch, Carlie cleverly beat her defender on the endline and smacked the ball hard off the crossbar from an acute angle. We were creating chances. Really good chances.
But so was MI. The previously mentioned conceded corners were an issue. Their tactic was to hit in-swingers directly at our goal, tight to the posts. And it almost worked, as MI hit the woodwork themselves directly from a corner and looked very very dangerous every time.
The opening goal was preventable (aren't they always...). In the 17th minute, their goalie punted to midfield, the ball bounced within a yard of all three of our midfield players, bypassing them all...which isn't great, but we still had 4 defenders to their 3 attackers. But instead of our defenders stepping forward to challenge, we backpedaled, the ball bounced (again!) and was picked up by a speedy MI player (who couldn't have been any happier to see Bellevue retreating) who calmly side-stepped one defender and finished neatly to the lower left side of the goal from 15 yards away. Not our greatest defensive moment. 0-1 MI.
Then it got even sloppier. Yes, the weather was poor. But we live in the NW so heavy rain and cold temperatures shouldn't phase us. And it was the same conditions for the girls in white and maroon. So no excuses. For the balance of the game the ball just seemed to ping-pong around mid-field and it became a game of effort, grit and hard challenges. And MI competed well. They were the aggressors and won more 50/50 balls than they lost. It wasn't that our girls weren't trying, they were. But on the night, we were a step slower, and definitely less aggressive than the Islanders. In fact, if it wasn't for the steady play of Annika in goal, the scoreline could've been worse by halftime.
The second MI goal sealed their victory. Only seven minutes into the second half, we let another high looping ball drop in our defensive third, failed to aggressively chase the ball, and the MI attackers were quicker to the loose ball, and made a feast of a crumb. Simple shot on target, a slippery ball that got behind our goalie and it was a score from nothing at all. And we were 0-2 down.
We had chances to narrow the gap, but to be fair, MI seemed as likely to add a third as we did of pulling one back.
So we lost. And as I told our team after the game, we have had a lot of practice at how to win with grace and dignity, and tonight I expected our team to hold their heads high, look their opponent in the eye, and accept defeat with equal grace and dignity. This doesn't mean that we aren't frustrated, hurting, or comfortable with losing. But we will behave respectfully, even when we don't play well and the result goes against us. And I was proud of our team and how we handled the disappointment. Hopefully we don't get much more practice at this side of competition. It isn't as much fun as winning.
Of course, we will have our chance at redemption in only a few short weeks. We will see this same MI team on Thursday, Oct 12th at BHS. But before we do, we have a very important home game vs LW on Thursday. That is our focus. That is our next opportunity to play better than we did tonight.
Thank you to the supportive parents, alumni parents and fans for braving the soggy weather tonight.