The wind rushed across the night-lit field and the crowd huddled in coats and blankets. We were there on the sidelines for our last soccer game Friday night — the game to determine the champion team.
We, the second-place team, were pitted against the first-place team of the league. We’d beaten them once before. But we heard they’d improved.
They scored in the first half, and boys all looked a little defeated right off the bat. Maybe they’d improved more than we knew. But by the second half, we came out of the gate and scored! 1-1!
The second half was just as exciting: The ball was high in the air for a good part of the game — high kicks, “heading” back and forth, trying to get the ball off “high bounces.” Our goalie caught some great tries. Their goalie did the same. We were back and forth on the field. But then they scored again, and our players were feeling pretty down. They had some REALLY good kids on their team. But almost at the very end, feeling like we lost, we suddenly scored! (Nate assisted that one)! Yay! 2-2!
The game then ended, and everyone high-fived, but this was for the championship, so we needed to go into overtime. Two 8-minute halves are required. The other team scored in the first half, and we thought we lost it again, but then our team came back in the second half and scored! Yay again!
That game played out as 1-1, so we had to go into “sudden death.” They pick five players from each team to take 5 kicks (12 yards out) into the goal. I felt bad for our little goalie, CT, because — although he’s wiry — he’s as small as Nate! (They’re numbers 2 and 4, respectively!) The kids in numbers 11 and 15 look HUGE compared to them! Anyway, Nate was picked as one of the five kickers. The kickers switch off — so one person from their team kicks, then the goalies switch places and a person from the other team kicks, then the goalies switch back, etc. We missed, then they scored, then we scored, then they missed, then we missed, then they missed, then we missed (Nate), then they missed. And then we missed again (groan). And they scored! And it was over. Just like that. …
It’s so hard to lose when it comes down to just one kick at the end. Some of the boys cried at the end.
My mom said probably all athletes have a game like that at some time, but — since I wasn’t an athlete growing up — I never had to experience that.
I don’t know how sports lovers keep their heart rates in line. … That was enough for me for a season.