Bellevue 0 - 0 Seattle Prep
Ties are an admittedly foreign-feeling part of our sport. Most American sports are designed to produce a clear winner (eg. extra innings, overtime, etc.), but soccer has a long and distinguished history of 90 minutes (or 80 in our case) not being enough to determine a definitive winner. Like in real life, sometimes tightly contested effort doesn't always end in a satisfyingly binary way. And don't get me started on the dreaded "zero - zero" final scoreline, I've been defending our sport for decades on the merits of a "good tie." Or even a "beautiful tie." Because the game can still be played beautifully, and competitively, even if the ball doesn't find the back of the net. Would I have preferred to win against the visiting Panthers? of course. Were we good enough on Tuesday evening versus Seattle Prep to earn a win? Absolutely. Only the crossbar and the Prep keeper's derriere kept us from scoring an opening goal in what was an exquisite first half by our girls. But the momentum had shifted their way in the 2nd half as we tired, and by the final whistle, I was extremely proud of our girls for gutting their way to a share of the points.
The game started brightly, we kicked off deep into the Prep end, won the "2nd ball" as we had planned, and had a shot and free kick before Prep crossed midfield. But more important than a positive start, we trusted each other with crisp, accurate passes throughout the first half, patiently waiting for openings to surge forward without succumbing to the temptation of simply "booting it" towards the opposition end of the field. We passed. We moved for each other. We kept a very organized and compact team shape throughout. For most of the game, our midfield triangle was spectacular, with Paige, Halle, Mo, Kennedy and freshman Hinana putting on a clinic on how to pass and work for each other, pressing in transition to win the ball when we lost possession. There were moments of breathtaking elegance from our midfielders vs. Prep, and I'm looking forward to seeing even more as the girls get to know each other even better as the season progresses. Up front, we created several good chances with Chloe, Ally, Mo, Rebekah and Kennedy all rotating through our most forward positions. I was especially proud of how our forward three were relentless in the press, forcing mistakes from the Prep defenders, tracking back when necessary, and getting into tackles when required. Our team defense starts with our front three, and everyone contributed to the mission. Finally, we are going to have a very successful season if we continue to limit good teams to zero goals against. Scoring goals is pure joy, but shutouts win championships. Kudos to Ava, Julia, Audrey, Kaatje, and Courtney for anchoring a backline that was tough, fearless and dedicated to covering for each other. Of course, both goalkeepers deserve recognition for a shared shutout. Izzy had an amazing save to preserve the shutout just before halftime, and Ashley was calm and sure-handed throughout her varsity debut in a very busy 2nd half that was a good test of concentration, bravery and nerve, and she passed with full marks.
So was it a "good tie?' All ties are a bit frustrating. We are never aiming for anything but victory when we step onto the field. But the game statistics were mostly even (9 shots/2 corners for BHS, 12 shots/2 corners for Prep--almost all coming in the 2nd half), and sometimes 80 minutes of tightly balanced competition ends scoreless. And there were enough moments of pure quality vs. Seattle Prep that I'm even more optimistic as we turn our attention to Newport on Thursday.
Overall, the program had a very good evening against Seattle Prep. Our JVC team scored in the last 10 minutes to win 1-0, and our JV team overcame an early 0-1 deficit to win 2-1 with another late 2nd half goal to seal the victory. Congratulations to both teams and Coach John & Coach Fikay. Seattle Prep has been the class of the Metro League for the last decade, and we have had a very good record for the past 6 years in the Kingco League (arguably the two best soccer conferences in the state), so for our program to end the evening with 2 wins and tie is a very solid beginning for all our teams.
Thank you to all of the parents and supporters who cheered for our girls over almost 6 hours of soccer on Tuesday. Let's do it again on Thursday vs. Newport.