Kicking It With Kendyl
New blog from women's soccer senior Kendyl Pele:
It seemed like only yesterday I was preparing for my first preseason as a Husky. Now, four years later, entering my last season a lot has changed: the tests have become harder, the practices are more intense, Jim's hair has gotten bigger, but most importantly our team is better.
All summer long our team trained, ran, and lifted together to get ready for preseason. Every day at 6 a.m. we met with our trainer, Rose, who pushed us to the point of exhaustion in order to prepare us for the two weeks we were about to face. Now, it is customary that every preseason during fitness testing someone either gets sick, passes out, or has a complete mental breakdown. Surprisingly, other than the one case of a severe upset stomach (that person shall remain nameless), everyone made it through the fitness tests in record health. However, that wasn't the only difference in this preseason. From the moment we started practices it was evident that we had all been working together. The level of competition was high, the freshmen blended in easily and the chemistry clicked. Even dorm life seemed more fun than previous years. Between stealing signs and scaring freshmen in the showers (sorry Hillary), the dorms became a place of bonding for us all. Through it all though Lesle always kept us on track and reminded us that it was all for a purpose and to never lose sight of our goal to beat our first opponent, Seattle U.
Everyone was excited for our first match up Friday night against the Redhawks. Every year leading up to the first game everyone is always filled with first game jitters and anxiety, but no one more so then Kellye. Not only is Joswick notorious for being an anxious nutcase, but this game in particular was especially significant. Almost exactly a year ago against the same opponent Kellye had torn her ACL only minutes into the game. Even under my calm, cool, and collected demeanor I was feeling a little antsy to play, but as we pulled into the parking lot at Seattle U, my unease quickly turned to excitement. Once we were all ready security led us onto the field, which of course was a nice change up from being chased off the field just days before...
Jim usually leads our pregame warm up but because of a bum knee, he hobbled around and directed us from a distance. However, that didn't seem to be a problem because our warm was sharp and quick even though old Jimbo was not, and after a solid warm up we were all ready to take the field. Like our warm up the first half was quick, but unfortunately we left out the sharpness. Seattle U came out hard and strong with a few good chances early on. Both sides were battling back and forth, and although we were moving fast pace we weren't connecting with one another. At the end of the first half Lesle reminded us to calm down and "be ourselves." We were playing fine, but we needed to play smarter defense and move the ball better in attack, just like we had been doing all preseason. Most importantly we needed a goal.
The second half we came out more collected and began creating dangerous opportunities for ourselves. We switched the ball from one side to the other, when we didn't have possession we focused on winning it back in the "kill zones," and we looked to take more shots on goal. However, as the clock wound down we still couldn't seem find the back of the net. It wasn't until there was little over 10 minutes to play when Kellye took a pass out wide and placed the ball low in the far post net to give us a 1-0 lead over the Redhawks. While Kel had been working hard all game to earn her first goal of the season, she probably exerted an equal amount of energy celebrating her hard earned goal. Everyone on and off the field was jumping and yelling like crazy for Kellye because not only was she able to come back and overcome her fears and anxiety, but to score her first game back from a devastating injury made us all proud and fired up to put the game away. The last minutes of the game were chaotic as the SU moved to high pressure and sent more players up the field. However, with everyone behind the ball and a few key saves by Kari and a sliding save by Jane, at the end of 90 minutes we came out with our first W of the season.
Afterwards we were all excited and relieved to have the first game under our belts. All of the coaches were happy with the results but reminded us that we have a long way to go and our focus has to be on improving from one game to the next. While our team has changed a lot in my four years with old teammates graduating and new ones coming in, our goal has never faltered: be the best we can be. Because in soccer there are things that are simply out of our control, injuries happen, bad passes are made, shots are missed, or you get a bad ref who decides to give your player a red card making your team play a man down for an entire half....
But despite these unpredictable and sometimes harsh circumstances, we can only do our best, and as long as we stick to that plan as a team we can't go wrong!
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