Bellevue 1-1 (2OT) Liberty
31st min Liberty goal
39th min Alex (Mia)
So we tied a Kingco soccer game. It happens. At least in theory, I understand it happens. Our last regular season Kingco tie was during the 2019 season over four years ago. Most of the girls in our program were at Chinook MS, and some were still attending their local elementary school. So there's that. But ties do happen in soccer, and now we have another new experience to process and learn from: overtime. Each league in the state handles regular season ties differently. Some simply end in a tie after 80 minutes, others go directly to s shootout, and Kingco plays two 5-minute overtime periods using the golden goal rule (whoever scores first wins), but if it still ends tied after those overtime periods, the teams share a point apiece for a tie (versus 3pts for a win).
The reaction to the final whistle tells you everything you need to know about the result. Liberty players skipped back to their shelter and shared hugs, while our girls all stared into the distance with frustration, ennui, and disbelief looking like existential poets contemplating the void of the universe (I may have even heard the gnashing of teeth).
Or maybe we were just tired and hungry after a tough match. I sometimes take these things too seriously.
We knew going into our game with Liberty that it would be a challenging test. Liberty are well-coached and play an attractive brand of possession soccer, spreading the field as wide as possible creating gaps for their speedy wingers and midfielders to race onto and cause overloads. But we knew that. And we prepared for that. And to our credit, defensively, we stayed organized and compact and repelled most forays into our territory. In fact, we limited the Liberty offense to 3 shots all night, unfortunately, their first shot was a goal, and their last shot was a 1v1 with our keeper who charged off her line, narrowed the angle, and did a great job preventing what would've been a more depressing result than merely a tie (well done Emilie).
So why did we tie when we were so defensively solid most of the night (3 shots aren't very many)? First and foremost, Liberty is a good team. But beyond that, our issue on Tuesday night was a fluidity to our offense (or lack thereof), and our finishing ratio (goals scored as the numerator, chances created as the denominator). And that calculation currently produces a very small faction. We launched over 20 shots at the Liberty goal (our season average) and came away with a single goal. Yes, their goalkeeper had a good night, but we are talented enough that beating a solid goalkeeper is within our ability. But last night it just seemed a bit janky...we forced shots when a simple pass to a teammate would be a better choice and passed to marked teammates when we had open shots. The art of disguise in scoring goals is something we need to improve upon: making opponents think we are going to shoot before laying off a perfect set-up pass, or feinting a pass before catching the goalie flat-footed with a snap shot on goal.
Liberty scored first in the 31st minute, with a hopeful looping shot-cross that seemed like one of those agonizing floaters that would nestle just between the crossbar and the outstretched gloves of the keeper....but Becca did keep it out...but only as far as the onrushing striker who was alert and pounced on the rebound to put us behind for only the second time this season.
As halftime neared, it seemed like we'd go into the break chasing the game a goal down, but then we had a moment of pure soccer beauty. It came in the 39th minute from a delicious one-touch pass from Lillian to Mia scampering down the left wing. Mia took a single touch to control, and another to cross perfectly to the head of an onrushing Alex to bury into the corner of the net. It was a wonderful goal. A goal of speed, control, and simplicity. But sadly the fluidity of that goal was a singular experience that didn't repeat. The second half, and two 5-minute overtimes, were decidedly in our favor (other than the late 1v1 that we miraculously dodged) but we couldn't find the final bit of quality to finish off any of our numerous chances created. 1-1 final score.
The result is disappointing, but it really doesn't change much regarding our goals and ambitions for this season. Because Liberty had already dropped points to #4 ranked LW 2-1 last week, we still control our destiny in the Kingco regular season. We simply have to play better and get results against LW, Liberty, and the rest of our league opponents in future games. And our first opportunity to do this will be Thursday at Lake Washington. LW finished 2nd in Kingco the last two seasons (behind Bellevue), and are eager to claim a title of their own. But to earn the league crown, teams still have to displace the two-time defending champion and that's our team. Past games with LW have been tremendously competitive and are usually played with a frenetic energy for the entire 80 minutes. We need to bring our "A" game on Thursday.
So we'll rest and recover from Liberty, take lessons where we can, and carry on to face LW on their home field on Thursday night. I know our girls will be ready to work on their soccer mathematics and improve our ratios in the best possible way: by scoring a bucket-load of goals.