Another Boys U16/19 AYSO soccer season has come to a close and I have to say, as a co-coach with my friend Kevin, we most definitely improved. Last year in our first season of coaching, our team FC805 finished with a record of 0-5-5, no wins, 5 losses and 5 draws. We didn’t make the play-off’s so therefore had no chance of playing on Championship Day. This year, after the 7 game regular season our team Silver Hase (pronounced Haze but spelled Hase on purpose) finished with a record of 3-3-1, our one tie coming in the first game of the season against the team that ended up in first place before pool play.
The 8 teams in our divisions were split into 2 pools of 4 and we would play each of the other 3 teams in our pool once with the top 2 teams in each pool advancing. We were in an underdog role all season, but came out of the first game with a 1-0 win over the top ranked team in our pool thanks to a second half penalty kick. The second game we dominated from start to finish and left with a 4-1 victory. Heading into the last game, all we needed to advance to Championship Day was a single goal. When the whistle blew the final score was a 3-3 draw (which included a goal scored by our goalkeeper!) which meant we were advancing as the first place finishers in our pool!
Championship Day dawned bright, clear, and warm. Kick-off for the first game was set at 10:00am with the winners advancing to the Championship game at 2pm and the losers playing in the 3rd vs. 4th place game at the same time. Game time came and it was intense, back and forth play went, attacking and defending and then the whistle blew. One of our defenders had raised his hands to shield his face from the ball and it was declared a handball and the ref pointed to the spot. They had a penalty kick and made it. At halftime we were down 1-0. The second half was a struggle, both teams taking shots and our goalkeeper made some amazing stops but unfortunately we were unable to score and lost. The Championship game was out of reach but we still had one game left to play.
The 3rd vs. 4th place game was definitely light-hearted with the players having a lot of fun, but there was still a desire to win for both sides. The Yellow team (the Twinkies) struck first and took a 1-0 lead and our side just couldn’t seem to score until the middle of the second half when we were given a penalty kick. Our player stepped up to the spot and cooly shot the ball into the back of the net and we had a 1-1 tie. A few minutes later the whistle blew and we were going to extra time. There were two 5 minute halves and then if it was still a tie there would be the dreaded penalty kick shoot-out. The first half came and went quickly and then 2 minutes into the second half we attacked, their keeper came out and the ball slid past him to one of our player who hadn’t scored all year. He had opportunities that either sailed over the goal or he was called offsides. In this moment though, with everything on the line, he gently tapped the ball and it slow-motion rolled across the line and into the goal! Silver Hase had a 2-1 lead. The next 3 minutes were heart pounding but then the final whistle blew and we were able to celebrate the victory!
It felt good to end the season with a win, with a medal, and with our team happy. We definitely improved as coaches and who know’s what next year has in store. All I know is we’ve tasted Championship Day and we’re not going to want to miss out on that again.