Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 223: High School Girls Soccer is Rough Business

I never played soccer at a competitive level. As a kid, sure, I kicked that black and white ball around... tried to see how many consecutive bounces on my knee I could do. (The answer: not many.) But my high school never got a girls soccer team until I was a junior. And by that time, I had decided that sports that included balls flying at my face and girls trying to slide tackle me was not my cup of tea. Plus, there's just way too much running. I was more into those non-contact sports like track (sprinter) and softball (really bad second baseman).

But Saturday morning was the Class A girls soccer state championship game between the undeafeted Windham Eagles and the Bangor Rams. A friend of mine has a kid on the Windham naturally, I wanted to show my support (despite my worries about being a jinx.) I'm glad I went. This game was a real nail biter throughout the first 40 minute half. Windham peppered the Bangor goalie with shots—some directly at her, and some that found the crossbar or the football goalpost just behind the goal. Parents in the stands murmured frustrations.

It was obvious from the get-go, Windham was the dominant force in this match-up. I'm not sure Bangor knew what to expect—or if they did, they didn't take the threat seriously. I'm surprised the Windham goal keeper didn't fall asleep with virtually all the action taking place in front of the Bangor net. And I'm positive that the Rams felt lucky to get out of that first half with the score tied at zero. Windham, most likely, felt frustrated. I know the fans sure did.

The second half opened with a quick goal by Windham's Ciera Berthiaume  just 51 seconds into the second half to get the scoring started. The Eagles never looked back and the Rams just couldn't pull their shit together to make a run. Windham, who outshot a sluggish looking Bangor team by what felt like a million to one, ended up winning 3-0 to win their first state soccer title since 1994.

Watching this game made me realize something about soccer: this is a rough game. I admire these girls for their tenacity and resilience—they never seem to give up on the ball no matter where it is and they all take a ball to the face like it's no big deal. There were about two dozen plays in this game that would've forced me into the fetal position. But these girls just get up and chase down the play like they just got hit with a Nerf ball. I saw one girl get hit in the face with a ball—a play that most certainly would've sent me to the emergency room.

Congratulations to the Windham Eagles on their Gold Ball... it was a really fun way to spend a sunny but crisp Saturday morning! (For a complete recap of the game, click on over to the Bangor Daily News.)

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