Last Saturday was game 5 in the eldest girlywog’s soccer season where I’m also coaching again.  Our record was 1-3.  We were playing the team we played the previous Saturday, which I had to miss because of illness.  We ended up losing that previous game 4-3 in a hard fought battle.

In my two coaching stints, it seems like my teams really rise to the occasion against teams that have annoying players.  This team had one.  She backed it up with her foot in the previous game as she had scored all four of her teams goals.  But my players were irate at the elbowing and tripping going on by her and others that wasn’t getting called.  For all I know, she could be the same player that caused such anger with my players during the last season, the MO is very similiar.

So I pulled out an old Red Wings trick from the late 90’s, the “left wing lock”, or my variation of it.  Basically we allocated one of our midfielders to pay a little more attention to the biggest threat on the other side.  That player, codenamed “The Beetle”, had to make sure they were back on defense and make sure there were no easy passes to the threat.

Things started off well, with us applying enough pressure that one of their defense reached down with a hand to stop the ball.  We score on the subsequent penalty shot, 1-0.  They were able to tie the game near the end of the quarter.  The second quarter saw us put on the pressure and take a 3-1 lead before, once again they scored near the end, 3-2.  It was at this time I was informed that this was exactly how the last game had gone, us controlling play and them scoring late.  I believe they tied it early in the third quarter but we retook the lead and entered the fourth quarter up 4-3.  The fourth was a war.  My team was working hard the whole game but you could see the determination on their faces to beat this team, to beat that girl.

Within the first two minutes, the other team got a penalty shot on us.  I can’t remember exactly why, so most likely it was a legit call.  We had one of our best goalies in, but that girl was taking the shot.  She shanked it wide and our lead still held.  She was quite mad and frustrated for much of the rest of the quarter.  It was back and forth the whole quarter but we just could never get that insurance goal.  Our “beetle” perservered and our defense was excellent(the eldest girlywog has become quite a defender).  The last 2-3 minutes of the quarter was spent in their end of the pitch and we held on to win 4-3, giving the other team their first loss of the season!

I was so proud of the kids.  They wanted to beat that team and they played the tactic I employed to near perfection, the annoying girl was held to one goal.  I guess the coaching lesson in all this is to promote good sportsmanship as the number one thing.  Don’t give the other team an excuse or rallying point to rise make it their mission to unseat you.  I’ve seen it happen twice now.

This Saturday is the final game of the season, and most likely my coaching career.  If the eldest girlywog plays soccer next fall, she’ll be in the next age bracket.  I feel that age bracket needs the type of coaching that will actually be able to teach them real skills and strategy, things I don’t really know.  I really enjoyed this season again.  I was a little bit stressed to start out, but once again we had a great set of kids.  We’ll have a pizza party after the game to celebrate the end of the season.  Hopefully we’ll have an even record again.

As I hoped at the end of last season, I hope we didn’t do anything to dampen any of the kids love of soccer and that they had a good time.


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