A view from my side.
Tonight’s match was one we needed. It was against an opponent we were heavily favored to win and we went into the match confident we would win it. But what we needed tonight was the confidence that came from our play. We looked better. We played faster. We played more intelligently. We played with heart. Against a team that was bigger, stronger and faster. They were just not as tactically sound as we were.
The result was 3-1 in our favor. Their 1…an own goal. A misplayed header that went off the top of our defender’s head and backwards into the net, rather than off his forehead and out into the field of play. It happens from time to time. But tonight, we hit the post 3 times and the crossbar once. They cleared off their line twice. We missed a 1-on-1 against their keeper, pushing the ball wide of the mark. Tonight’s result could easily have been 10-0.
This is what we needed going into tomorrow night’s match. Tomorrow night we face the team we lost to in Kicks from the Mark on Saturday. Tomorrow night we play for 1st place in our Area. If we win tomorrow, we still have a shot to take 1st place and claim home field advantage through the first two playoff matches. But it is more than that.
Tomorrow night pits us against a team we should have beaten. It pits us against a team that took a match away from us. A team that refused to bow down to us and refused to go quietly. It pits us against a team that came back from a 2-0 deficit to take the result after 2 Overtime periods. It pits us against a team that could take from us something we have held on to for 9 years: the Area Title.
Tonight was important because it helped set the tone for tomorrow. Tonight was important because it showed our young team that they can, indeed, hold on to a lead against someone who wants to take it from us. Tonight was important because it gave our boys back their spark and their desire and their hunger. Their hunger for wining. Their hunger for greatness. Their hunger for a championship.
They can taste it again and they savor its sweetness. I hope the taste they got back tonight stays with them the next 4 weeks. It could all end sooner than we want if they lose that hunger. I hope they don’t fill up on the appetizers. The dessert is so much better.