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Girl's Soccer Stories - The Tournament Part 3
The next three players from both sides either kicked above the net or kicked to the side of the net. One kicked the ball directly to the goalie again. But one blue player kicked one in the right corner to even things up. Everybody was on pins and needles. Even the two boys soccer teams waiting impatiently for their turn to use the turf field watched with intent.
The last green striker was up and she scored. The pressure was on blue to tie it up. She missed. Mia's team was up by one. There was a pause. For some reason it looked like the girls were going to keep kicking. No one knew if there was a winner. Moments later, everybody from the green team got up and celebrated in victory. It was a hard-fought game. Before the soccer shootout, the green team was always playing from behind before tying the game. It looked like their season was about to have a premature end but they kept on fighting.
The game finally ended at 11 and there was an hour left until the next game in a grassy field nearby. Everybody waited in the car where it was much warmer. There was another soccer tournament game going on at the moment so there was at least some entertainment during the wait.
Mia's next opponent was the red team. It was tough to recall if green had fought this team before. Her league had many teams within the age group from several towns within the county. Every team went by a color and made identification of a team difficult. Some towns have teams with the same color names with other towns which made things even more confusing. The only team label that was unique was the town’s name.
It was still cold and at times it seemed as if green was playing like that as well. Red team played like a faster team and they were more physical. I was watching the game with only one other dad almost behind one of the goals. The other spectators were at the sidelines. The other dad had a keen eye on who was pushing or had their arms flopping around. I start to take notice too and he was right. We were both flabbergasted out why no fouls were being called.
The other dad started calling out the number of any girl who was pushing or shoving. "Number 11! Look out for number 11!” Or he would yell out to the referees to call any aggressive girls. "Come on ref! Keep an eye on number five! She's too aggressive!" It got really bad when red’s own coach told his players to keep their arms down. It was really maddening when neither of the two referees were calling any fouls at all. Stranger still was that our own coach was being silent on the pushing.
“I guess the refs really want to go home where it is warmer,” I joked to the other dad. It still felt like 30 degrees even during noontime. The refs and most of the girls playing in the field were wearing shorts.
Close to the end of the half, the red team scored. It was still a shock to see the green team playing from behind. The game was very defensive. During the regular season, the green team was usually the one putting on the pressure on the opponent's half of the field. In this game the ball kept going back and forth so there was a lot of running. The red team kept beating the green team to the ball most of the time. They were definitely the faster team. The green team looked like they were running out of gas.
The score was tied midway along the second half. There was a feeling of déjà vu as the game could run into another overtime. I had a good view of the next goal that was about to be made. A corner kick was made into a group of girls slightly to one side of the net. One girl made a slow rolling kick and about four girls, including the goalie managed to miss it. But it was the red team who made that goal. It is now 2 to 1. I had a bad feeling that time was running out on Mia’s team. One of the green coaches confirmed this. He yelled out to the girls that they had two minutes to score a goal. It was almost like saying you don't have a prayer in getting another goal but go ahead and try anyway.
Those two minutes seem like 2 seconds. It was over before anyone realized it. The red team celebrated while the green team acted as if someone had died. Mia took it pretty well. She might have felt an emotional detachment since she hardly played in this game. It didn't seem like her leg was bothering her anymore but she wondered why she played for five minutes whenever she was substituted in. During the regular girl’s soccer season, she was playing at least half the time during the games. During the 13U tournament, she was playing less than half of half of the time.
On the way home, Mia was describing how her friends were in tears. Some of her teammates did not take the loss well. It was a sour ending to a great season but overall, it was better than the previous year where her team didn't win any games. The girls are still young and they will have another chance to play again and be better. They will get over the loss and maybe they'll forget it and move forward. The experience they had in winning and losing in soccer is just another lesson in life.