Sunday, June 27, 2010
What do you do when you lose your first game, your coaches call at 11:30 p.m. to say they are just now leaving Wisconsin, and the heat index keeps rising? You throw yourself back into the fray and muster on. The boys have been showing the effects of playing a tough game yesterday in the heat and humidity. Some even slept through dinner and breakfast. But at the team meeting they were all in the lobby ready to hit the pitch with renewed vigor and determination. You have to love this game when you know you're going back to the same field at the same time in the same weather where you didn't do so well last outing.
We gave this second team in our bracket a good run for their money. We managed to keep the game tight, but in the end we lost 2-3 in a tough but civilized competition. It's difficult not to let tempers flare when you're hot, tired, and frustrated – and teenagers to boot. But the boys on both sides kept their cool. Speaking of cool, before their game I was able to watch a girl's game where one side was wearing black uniforms. I felt so badly for them as the sun blazed overhead and the moisture hung in the air. Then I climbed up the hill to our game to discover the opposing team also dressed all in black. I'm beginning to think that clubs need "summer" wear in addition to their other jerseys – something light that doesn't absorb the heat. However, ironically, the teams dressed in black won their games, so maybe there's a motivating factor to being in the most oppressive uniform. They have to keep running to escape the sun.
I know that this loss means we're going home after tomorrow's game, which makes me sad. I really enjoy seeing the caliber of games in the semi- and final rounds, but Robbie won't want to stay because he has things drawing him to home like his own bed and his girlfriend. Plus it's not as much fun just watching other teams play. So we'll be on the road once our game is over and the boys have a chance to shower. Those samples of Degree deodorant in the goody bags seem a stroke of genius at this point.
I'm hoping those of you in the general area of Regional Championships or the National Championship takes a couple of hours to stop by and catch some games. These players will be the names you'll hear in the future at the college and professional level. You'll have the opportunity to see how terrifically these kids play. After I see a few of the youth games these past two days and then return to my hotel to watch the World Cup, I'm amazed at how closely they compare. These youth teams understand team tactics at a far more sophisticated level than when my sons were young. And the World Cup players seem to make the same "rookie" mistakes including a Mexican defender passing the ball across the goal mouth to another defender only to have it stolen by an Argentine striker for a goal. Such play just confirms the fact that soccer is a game of finesse and a game of blunders at any age. While we hope no one makes a mistake, they happen, so we need to be forgiving since you can be a thirteen year old club player or a twenty-eight year old World Cup player and still pass the ball into trouble.
By the way, they don't have a T-shirt stand at our playing venue, so I'm not able to purchase a shirt for a souvenir of the event. Despite the many years of soccer I still pull State, Regional and National Championship t-shirts
out of the dryer. There is a strong sense of pride in the accomplishment of making it to one of these events as well there should be. So I might stop by the other venue tomorrow just to buy a t-shirt. If we can win tomorrow, that would definitely be worth having a shirt for memory's sake.