A view from my side.
Wow. What a disaster that match was. For us, I mean. Total domination. I have never seen our team fall apart quite like this before. We looked like a recreational team playing in its first game.
To set the proper stage, this was a rematch against the team that beat us on Saturday. They arrived Saturday evening to play and seemed tentative through the first half. Our reputation and our history intimidates many teams. They schedule us expecting to be hard pressed, whistle to whistle. And on Saturday they were. We were up 2-0 with 15 minutes left in the match. They scored one…then another a few minutes later. They played us even through 2 overtime periods and then won it in Kicks from the Mark.
The net result of that victory was that our aura faded. Our invincibility fell. We were now “beatable.” When our opponents took the field last night, they were neither timid nor tentative. There was no intimidation factor at play. Quite the opposite, they were confident not only that they could win, but that they would. They played with a self assuredness that we rarely see in our opponents.
The first two goals came in the first 3 minutes. We have suffered from a failure to clear the ball from our own box this year. Again last night, the ball was on the ground in front of the goal and we could not clear it. Each time, a player came running in, unmarked, and put the ball in the back of our net. Never, ever have we been scored on twice in such a short amount of time. Their third goal came in the 15th minute and they coasted through the next 65, easily winning the match.
We were never really in the match. The boys were stunned, shocked, and stupefied. The disbelief on their faces was apparent. They couldn’t believe what was happening to them. When this happens to a team, they usually react one of two ways. It either serves as a motivator, making them play harder, or it completely sucks the air out of a team and they become 11 players on a field, running up and down with no purpose other than surviving the remaining time. What we needed was the former. What we experienced was the latter.
So, what do we take away from last night’s match? Hopefully a distaste for losing. We did not just lose this match. We were embarrassed. We were dominated, top to bottom. The opposing team had smiles on the faces as they moved the ball at will and watched us chase them around the field. They were not being disrespectful in any way, but they were having a lot of fun at our expense. I truly hope our boys remember that feeling and never allow it to happen to them again.
This will be the first year in 7 that we haven’t won our Area. Not only that, we have to win our match Saturday night to ensure 2nd place. The team we play Saturday fought hard, losing only 3-2. They know they can score. Now they know we can be beaten. If they beat us, it would keep us home and out of the Post Season for the first time in 12 years.
This is the youngest team we have ever fielded. Starting 8 underclassmen who never played a Varsity level match before this year is showing. The inconsistency is there. The effects of youth and inexperience are not being countered by the usual cadre of 4th year players. When 8 players on the field are in what amounts to their first year, there is experienced leadership to carry them through it.
This season has been filled with very high highs, and very low lows. There has been no middle ground coasting through at a consistently high level of play. We peaked a few weeks ago in the Metro Tournament, winning 4 matches and the trophy in 5 nights. From that high, we have crashed to the low of possibly not qualifying for the Post Season. The boys are gaining invaluable experience and I know we will be stronger for it in the future. It is just so hard to watch.
Congratulations to the winning team last night. They did to us what we have been known to do others. They spanked us. Hard.