What a whirlwind weekend! This weekend my oldest took part in the regional playoffs for San Fernando Valley. Her team was ranked #1 in their regular season, and #2 in the postseason for their AYSO region (they had a disappointing loss in the Championship game vs. the #2 ranked team in late December). That made our record against them 1-1 (we had beat them in the regular season).
Both teams were invited to play in this past weekend’s Areawide tournament, and were in different pools.
After 3 games on Saturday, with scores of 2-1, 2-0, and 2-0, we played Sunday early morning and won again, 1-0. We knew we were cleared for the finals.
Well, lo and behold, who do you think we met in the championship game? That’s right, our very own region- mates.
I must give credit to our amazing coach, Coach Sarah, who has played since she was little, and even played for UCLA. Our girls grew over this season, and I am eternally grateful for her knowledge and tutelage.
Somehow she knew that this game might come down to penalty kicks, so she had our lineup ready and were having the girls practice before the Championship game.
As the whistle blew, I could feel my heart pounding out of my chest. There’s not many things that will do this to me, but my children playing competitive sports will. I can’t remember feeling this way when I actually played sports as a kid… I am a quite gentle, reserved person by nature, so I felt like I needed to get a grip. As the game kept going, I took breaks away from it, in hopes I wouldn’t actually give myself a heart attack.
At halftime, no one had scored yet. Both teams had come very close but not one ball had crossed the goal line.
And then, third quarter. Their best player shot a beautiful topspin kick. 0-1. Our team’s shoulders sank. Everyone was quiet. Timeout. Coach pulled our girls aside and started giving them the pep talk. Our girls were trying not to cry. I was trying not to cry, yelling support from our side. There’s no feeling like your kid being so disappointed in their performance. It certainly breaks your heart.
Fourth quarter waning with 5 mins left, and our girls were fighting. They were indeed giving it all they had. And then, boom! One of our best shot it from far off, near the sideline and it was beautiful. The best goal I had seen all season. This ten year old girl had tied it. And it was amazing. 1-1.
It’s incredible how well kids can perform if you just let them.
Then the whistle blew. That was it, regulation was over. We were expecting PKs right away, but it was 10mins of overtime.
Some near misses all around and then again, the whistle blew.
My heart was so full of pride for these girls. Girls who had met each other just five months ago were working so hard together. Working hard because they didn’t want their season to end!
We had to move fields for the penalty kicks, which gave me a moment to pep talk with my daughter. She was in tears. Tears of pressure.
I told her that they had played amazing and no matter the outcome, they had played the best they had ever played just then. As far as the PK, my words to my daughter were to trust her insticts- kick it well, and as hard as she could.
My daughter has extraordinary power for her age. Even my personal trainer friends know just how strong she is. I knew that if she kicked it as hard as she could, there would be no way their keeper could catch it.
As everyone got setup, I could feel my heart rate surge again. I excused myself from the intense area and moved a bit farther away to watch my youngest, but still have an eye on the action.
Coach’s daughter took the keeper position. She had not played in goal all season, but was more than capable of defending it. The other team’s best scorer took keeper (an odd choice I thought).
First up was our best scorer – Byanca. Beautiful kick into the left goal pocket. 1-0. Then it was their turn. Great kick, but the ball was deflected by our keeper. Woohoo! Still 1-0.
Now it was Charly’s turn. The crowd began chanting her name – a moment that will be never be forgotten. The referee handed her the ball and she placed it down. She stared at him, waiting for the whistle. After the whistle was blown, she took a beautiful run up, swung her arms like she’s done this a thousand times (not once has she ever kicked a PK), and boom, it sailed quickly past the keeper, right into the corner pocket. We went wild. I started crying – I’m pretty sure that every mom would! She’s jumping up and down with glee. What a moment.
Then it’s their turn again, kicker shot it and it goes wide. Keeper ran it down anyway just to make sure. Phew! 2-0.
Up next was one of our defenders with another big kick. Hard and right – keeper went left for some reason, but it’s too late. It sails into the goal. Yay! 3-0.
Lastly, their team had one last chance to put it in. The kicker shot, and it went straight in the middle into our keeper’s hands. We went wild, knowing that it’s over, but then hushed again for the referee to officially call it.
The whistle blows and we all celebrate. Tears, jumping, screaming. Our team did it. We beat the team that beat us. And it was sweet. We knew we had a better team because they were able to work together better and trusted each other.