Bellevue 4-1 Juanita
19th min Saleen (Amy)
51st min Lillian (Lily)
56th min Juanita FK goal
59th min Leah (Lillian & Raina)
80th min Mia (Amy)
"If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain." Dolly Parton
Well, we did the rain bit.
in a game that unfortunately didn't feature any rainbows, our girls earned a soggy, slick, and soaked 4-1 victory against the Juanita Ravens. My messaging for this game began Monday during video-review of the Juanita team: do. not. take. Juanita. lightly. They are organized, tactically clever, have speed in key areas, and can hurt teams that don't remain focused. On gamenight, our warm-ups were good, the girls seemed energetic, and I was confident and optimistic that we were prepared for a solid performance. And then it started to rain. Hard. And the subsequent quality on the field was as flat as the Puget Sound on a windless day. Flat and quiet. Just raindrops and occasional whistles. Yes, the playing conditions weren't ideal. Controlling the ball on rainsoaked turf is a challenge, and it is much easier in theoretical terms standing on the sidelines in a rainrproof parka barking instructions (guilty). But it's October in the northwest, and we can't expect it to get much drier as our season progresses. So we'll learn to put on our galoshes and find a way. And on Tuesday evening against a determined Juanita team, we found a way. We got the opening goal in the 19th minute from a Juanita goal kick that was hit long, heavily deflected by a Juanita player backward towards her own goal where Amy flicked it forward and Saleen picked up the loose ball, spun, and nonchalantly deposited the ball into the far corner as if we were collecting balls in the net to prepare for the next shooting drill. Not exactly flowing build-up play, but ruthlessly effective, opportunistic, and a terrific finish by our freshman midfielder. 1-0 Bellevue.
But the flatness continued. Flatter than Stanley being mailed to grandma by eager 2nd graders...Flatter than the tires of a bicycle ridden inside the glass factory after an earthquake...flatter than a souffle taken from the oven 5 minutes too early. It wasn't that we were playing particularly poorly given the conditions, or being outplayed by our hosts, it was that we were playing below our collective potential and abilities. Which tends to frustrate coaches .So we had our halftime chat, and gauntlets were thrown down.
And to our team's credit, despite the weather getting worse and worse, we got better and better. Still not at our harmonizing best, but considering the waterlogged conditions, we began to sing from the same song sheet again. And in the 51st minute, we got the insurance goal that we sought, as Lily stepped forward to intercept a Juanita entry pass with a strong challenge to send the ball straight back through the Juanita defense, where the Raven CB hesitated a moment too long and Lillian pounced, finishing smartly with just the keeper to beat. 2-0 Bellevue. But 5 minutes later, Juanita earned a free kick 25 yards from our goal and the subsequent shot skipped off of the wet turf to nestle inside the far post. 2-1 Juanita, and suddenly the flat soggy quiet of the game was replaced by hopeful cheers of encouragement from the home supporters. Fortunately, before the pressure began to build on our team, Leah restored order in the 59th minute with an elegant goal after a great throw-in by Raina that was deftly flicked goalwards by Lillian to Leah's thankful feet in front of goal. Classy finish and 3-1 Bellevue.
Then the rain really started coming down. Torrents. I expected to see families of ducks swimming in the center circle, or salmon fighting their way upstream from one penalty box to the other. But at this point in the contest, the spaces were bigger and the chances for us began to pile up. Posts and crossbars were hit. 1v1s with the Raven keeper were pushed narrowly wide, and corner kicks miraculously went untouched from near post to far post needing just a kneecap of contact anywhere along the journey. Then with virtually the last kick of the game, Amy relayed a clever entry pass to Mia who took a touch to settle before blasting the ball off the underside of the crossbar for our final tally of the night. 4-1 Bellevue. Final whistle almost immediately afterwards.
The scoreline is both flattering and frustrating. Flattering in that it never seemed like a game worthy of a 3-goal final margin. Juanita battled consistently throughout and we struggled to find our rhythm. But also a bit frustrating in that we launched 26 shots towards the Raven goal to get our four...which isn't an aspirational finishing ratio. Yes, we are creating a lot of shots on goal, but the overall quality of our shots isn't great. Our decision making around goal could be better. I'd prefer more patience and poise, with demanding runs inside the box rewarded with a final killer pass rather than some of the speculative or low-percentage attempts we are currently settling for..but...that's nitpicking.
It reminds me of the quote from the tough and thoughtful ex-Man City captain and center-back Vincent Kompany, current manager of Burney in the Premier League, about his attitude towards his craft, "Always happy, never satisfied."
I'll take that advice. I'm happy with the result. (but we can play better than that).
We'll search for more rainbows on Friday night as we welcome Interlake to Bellevue Stadium for a non-league game (why is Interlake not in Kingco this season? long story, but the short versions is that they chose to play an independent schedule this year and aren't included in Kingco league standings).
A special thank you to the parents and supporters who braved the weather at Juanita, and especially to the volunteer crew who helped set up our bench shelter before the JV game, and tear down after the varsity. Little details (like staying warm and dry on the bench), make a big difference. Thank you.
Also a tip of the cap to the Juanita program overall. They always are one of the best hosts in Kingco, treating opponents with respect from arrival to departure. This can be seen in small considerations like providing the away team with a tent shelter and water, and their announcer working hard to pronounce all of our players names correctly. And I loved their pink socks and face-paint ribbons for breast-cancer awareness month reminding us all that there are more important things in the world than high school sports. They are a class program and we wish them well for the rest of the season.