Saturday, June 21, 2008
Ovie Comes Up McHuge
Olivia, my oldest daughter, has played competitive soccer since the age of 6 when she played "up" on a Bethesda U-8 team. Soccer is her passion and she knows her passion well.
Today was the day for McSoccerfest and, as the title of the tournament suggests, it is sponsored by McDonalds. The format is 4 vs. 4, on a 50 yd x 35 yd field, no goalies, and two 10 minutes halves. It was like playing outdoor futsal. Joining Olivia on her team for McSoccerfest were Julia ("Whoolia") Dowling, Emily Tompkins, Hazel Horvath, and Brittney Burwell. It was a strong team and we were all excited for the opportunity to take on some great competition.
Olivia's Bethesda Academy Green u-9 team was placed in a division with the Loudon White Tigers, DSC98s (Damascus), and SAC Premier Team A. Both Loudon and SAC (Soccer Club of Columbia, Maryland) were teams well known to us from various tournaments over the past two years. Both soccer clubs field very impressive players and are very well coached. SAC, in particular, has four different level teams at the U-9 level, ranked A-D in terms of soccer prowess. The four different teams are taken from the literally hundreds of girls that try-out for a spot on a SAC team. The "Premier" team in Olivia's division represented SAC's cream of the crop.
Olivia's first game was against DSC. They quickly dismantled an over matched opponent, beating them 7-0. All this was witnessed by the SAC players and parents sitting field side. Not to be outdone, SAC played the next game against Loudon and thoroughly thumped a very good team, 8-0. The gauntlet had been thrown.
After a snow cone and some time in the shade, Olivia's next game was against Loudon. As fierce as Team Green came out in the first game, they were a little sleepy against Loudon. The final score was 5-2. Again, SAC players watched and grinned as Team Green "struggled" to a win over a team easily defeated by the mighty SAC.
As expected, SAC next played DSC and mercifully kept the score under double digits. 9-0. The mighty SAC had once again spoken; however, Team Green was no where to be seen, choosing to hang out in a common area pavilion rather than watch SAC eviscerate DSC. Gotta love mind games with 9 year olds!
And so the stage was set for the marquee match-up: Team Green vs. SAC. I'll spare you the build-up WE WON 3-2. It was an awesome game. Two very well matched teams. Bethesda wanted it more and it showed. Onto the championship game against, who else, the mighty SAC. A team now hell bent on avenging their only loss.
The tone of the championship game was very different than the prior game. SAC was angry. They clearly felt that they had been beaten by an inferior opponent. Time to prove them wrong...again. The girls on both teams played their hearts out. Bethesda captured an early lead on a great goal in the first half. Then, towards the end of the half, SAC committed a foul that gave Bethesda a penalty kick. The PK's in this tournament were taken as follows: the ball was placed at the center field line, 25 yards from the goal. The goal, all 4' x 3' of it, stood wide-open, undefended. All players lined up on the center field line, waiting to chase the ball after it was kicked. For a 9 year old, it had to seem like those NHL contests where you shoot the puck from center ice at the goal with an opening only wide enough for a puck to fit into. Ovie was selected to take the kick and, much to every one's dismay, sent it wide of the goal. 1-0 Bethesda at half.
SAC came out on fire in the second half, quickly evening the score. Then they went ahead. Our girls were fighting hard but SAC took advantage of a few opportunities and converted. With three minutes to go, Coach Chris called for a substitution and removed Olivia from the game. To say I was mystified would be understatement. Why remove your best offensive weapon when you are behind with limited time left on the clock? Play went on for two more minutes until Bethesda was awarded a corner kick in the SAC zone. Again, substitution, and back comes Ovie. The ref turns to Chris and yells, "Only 1 minute left, coach." Olivia heard that too. I saw her expression change from a tired 9 year old to a kid on a mission. Something clicked in Olivia's brain. Not today. Not on my watch. Olivia took possession of the ball off of the corner kick, darted towards the middle of the filed, and slanted hard back to the goal line, shaking the first defender. She was now about 10 feet from the goal ahead on her right. Two SAC defenders raced towards Olivia, one directly in front of her, and one to her left. About 10 yards away was Emily Tompkins now wide open. I thought for sure Ovie would deal the ball to Emily for a wide open, albeit 15 yard shot at the goal. Instead, Ovie used the outside of her left foot to push the ball towards the middle of the field, shaking the defender immediately in front of her. Just as the defender from her left came within a foot of Olivia, she struck the ball with the outside of her right foot, sailing it into the open net. I was awe struck. It was amazing. The kids and parents were going crazy. We went from defeat to a tie in the blink of an eye on a highlight reel goal. Bethesda held off SAC for the final thirty seconds and we went to the tiebreaker. Ugg. Penalty kicks.
Each team was given 5 penalty kicks. Best of five wins the medal. Bethesda went first. Wide right. SAC went next, wide right. And so it went on until Bethesda's last shooter, Julia "Tooth Picks" Dowling stepped up and deftly sent her ball rolling, rolling, rolling deep into the back of the net!!! 1-0 Bethesda. SAC had the last shot. The SAC girl's toe-punt fell short and wide and the celebration was on. Bethesda Academy Green are the McSoccerfest U-9 Girls Champions!
L - R: Brittney Burwell, Hazel Horvath, Emily Tompkins, Ovie, and Julia "Toothpicks" Dowling