Last Week: I didn’t travel to our two games in California because of my concussion, but both of those matches were convincing wins. I’m really impressed with the results we got, beating Fresno State 2-1 and Cal State Bakersfield 2-0. Because I can’t recap the games for ya’ll, I decided to create a survey to find out what helps us get pumped up and ready to win games.
What is it that makes us successful, especially on the road? Is it most important to get a good night’s sleep, eat a hearty pre-game dinner, or shop for “Light-Up Buddy” gifts? Out of ten different categories, the results show that our warm-up/van music is THE most important in getting us ready to play. Having fans at our games was a close second, and third was eating a good breakfast, especially continental. Everything tastes better when it’s free! This is an insider perspective on how Redhawks get up for games- it doesn’t matter if we have to get up at 4:30am to fly, we don’t have to drown ourselves in Gatorade and Gu, and we could really care less how comfortable our hotel is. We’re really a pretty simple group of girls; all we need is good music, good food, and good friends!
It’s no wonder we beat Eastern Washington 2-0 on our home field. We woke up and cooked our own breakfasts, warmed up to our own mix, and played on our field for our fans. Our confidence coming off the last two games mixed with our comfort playing at home fused to put together the best 90 minutes of soccer we’ve played all season. In the first 5 minutes we strung together about 20 passes like a connect-the-dots game, weaving in and out of the Eagles defense as if they were cones. The ball was sent in from out wide to the feet of Jamie Coe who had her back to goal. She made a quick, decisive, one-touch pass back to Kara Kuttler who was charging at the net. Having drawn the goalkeeper out of position, I was already celebrating when an Eastern defender streaked across the goal, clearing the ball off the line.
Though the Eagles defenders played very well and saved their keeper a few times, they made the unfortunate mistake of fouling senior forward Megan Fogarty as she checked back to receive the ball. Knowing she can turn on a dime, they got a little over-eager and clipped at her heels. Catching the defense off guard, I played a short free kick to Kate Edstrom who, playing on the left side for the first time all season, crossed a perfect ball to a rushing Kahlyn Keilty-Lucas who literally ran the ball into the back of the net for her first goal of the season. Shortly after Kassandra Riozzi sent her 13th corner kick of the game into the head of junior M’ily Reiter who also scored her first on the season. It’s important to note that this little 5’1” midfielder rose above the rest to head home a corner kick when just two weeks earlier she was sitting out of practice due to the same collision that gave me my concussion.
We are halfway through the season, have a winning record, and have won our last three games in a row. I don’t know if you can quite call it a winning streak, but it’s a start. When we sat down during preseason to set our goals for the year it was pretty difficult as we didn’t have the typical targets to work towards, like winning conference and making the tournament. Since this whole experience is new for all of us, we decided it’d be very important for our team to feel like we are growing and learning as the season progresses. We anticipated a learning curve in the first few games as we adjusted to a new formation and one another’s style of play, but heading into our last ten games we hoped that things would be coming together.
If we were eligible to go to the tournament, this would be a great time in which to gain momentum so that we peaked at the right time of the season. However, even if we can’t make playoffs, we still want to live up to the goals we set. As long as we can keep scoring goals, we shouldn’t have any problem meeting our goals.
This week: Our first game against a West Coast Conference opponent couldn’t have been more encouraging. Though it was our first time at Negoesco Stadium at the University of San Francisco, we couldn’t help but feel like we were playing on familiar turf. The similarities between this Jesuit school and our Seattle University calmed our nerves and gave us confidence.
The first 15 minutes of the game were a battle of athleticism with both teams tackling hard and playing very direct. It seemed more like a game of ping pong than soccer, a midfielder’s Achilles heel. However, once our bodies warmed up and the adrenaline subsided we really started knocking the ball. As they ran a 4-3-3, our coaches knew we needed to exploit their weakness by finding our outside midfielders. Once we were able to do this we were able to keep great possession and eventually scored our goal by a long cross sent in from defender Kate Edstrom. Scuffling in the box with the defenders and keeper, Jamie Coe was able to punch the ball in the back of the net after it was redirected by Kara Kuttler.
Unable to get behind our defense or win the ball in the middle, the Dons struggled to compete. They adjusted their formation midway through the first half to neutralize our attack from the widths, but to no avail. It was only a matter of time before Kara scored one of her signature goals- beating four defenders on the dribble and slotting a smooth shot past their keeper. Despite a late goal scored from a deflected corner kick, the Dons’ last ditch effort to equalize was subdued by our forwards toying with their defenders at the corner flag.
After a fancy dinner treated by Athletic Director Bill Hogan at a romantic 5-star restaurant on the San Fran bay, we enjoyed a day in the city before returning home to shower, wash our clothes, take a nap and head back to the airport again. Well, at least that’s how it felt. October is our heaviest travel schedule and we’re all hoping we can stay above water. It’s a month of squeezing in job interviews, rushing to and from practice and work, and falling asleep in one’s books.
Shameless plug- if anyone’s interested in Sounders FC season tickets, give me a call! (425) 203-8303. I can’t promise I’ll be around to pick up, so just ask for Casey Shaw.
These last few weeks of our season are going to be rough; it’s either sink or swim. Even though we’re on the road a lot, let’s hope we hit the ground running.