A view from my side.
And so the season ends.
While I wasn’t there, by all reports the boys played one of the best matches of the season. They went up early on a break away and put one in the back of the net. Two more opportunities found the keeper, but they were dominating the run of play. Near the half way mark, one of our wing midfielders, in an attempt to shield the ball out, fouls an opponent giving them a restart from 20 yards out. A great kick, a blown mark and the score tied. 1-1 at the half.
The second half started and the teams played fairly even. A few chances here and there, but for the most part, both teams defended well. As the clock wound down, the wear and tear on our boys started to show. With very little depth on our bench, we did not sub much at all. Our opponent had 5 solid reserves they could put on the field with little appreciable decline in skill, so they were able to sub liberally.
At the 76th minute (we play 80), we cleared a ball off our byline for a corner. Their best field player stepped up and hit a beautiful ball headed toward the PK spot. Our keeper moved out to grab it just as it bent back toward the goal, over his hands, catching side net inside the far post. A brief moment of disbelief on both sides of the ball, and then they erupted in celebration of what they hoped would be the winning goal. 2-1 with 4 minutes left to play.
At kick off, they packed in and held us off, taking the victory 2-1 and earning their ticket to Round 2. Congratulations, boys, on a match well played. They are a solid side, top to bottom. They are fit. They are strong. They are age appropriate. They can play a full 80 minutes. I know, and have coached in club, many of the young men on that team. One other thing they have going for them is they believe this is “their year.” I’m beginning to believe it too. I wish them the best of luck.
Back to our side, in the 8 seasons I have been associated with this team, we have played in 6 Final Four matches, 3 Championship matches, winning the State Title once. Not a bad ride, overall. Still, it feels strange to be idle so early in May.