A view from my side.
Tonight’s match is a preview of next Tuesday. We play our cross town rival in the 2nd of three matches this year. The first one ended in disaster for us. A 4-0 rout in which we played our most disorganized match all season. The youth of our team was overwhelmed by the enormity of the rivalry and seemed stunned on the field. Paralyzed by our opponents size and speed, we sat back on our heels, eyes wide open like deer caught in the headlights.
Ok then. That match is over and it is time to focus on the task at hand. They trained well last night as we put in the last of the changes we want for our Post Season run. This is the team we have drawn for Round 1 which starts next Tuesday. Tonight gives us an opportunity to try out the adjustments and make a few more if necessary. We have three more matches before we play this team again, so we will have time to fine tune it all before May 1.
Tonight is a night for the boys to learn to relax and just play. To trust their training and trust their knowledge of the game. To learn not to panic and to put aside the opponent. Tonight is a match like any other match. We step onto the field 25 times or so a season. This is simply one of those 25. The outcome, tonight at least, has no bearing on our overall success this season. They need to learn to push aside all the hype and all the talk and all the brouhaha and simply play the match. It is time for the jitters and the nerves to settle. It is time to remember that they are playing this game for the joy of playing. When you forget that, it is easy to let the game take control of you rather than you taking control of the game.
Tonight we see how the boys handle the adjustments and how the boys have matured over the season. We are a young team, to be sure. But it is time these young boys grow up and become young men. Hopefully they understand it is not about “winning” tonight’s match. I hope we win it, sure. But tonight is a preview of their maturity, of their heart and of their spirit.