Pele Blogs About Portland
Senior women's soccer captain Kendyl Pele blogs about last weekend's trip to Portand, Ore.
The Nike Invitational hosted by Portland is a tournament that we attend every year. I was excited this year because we were going to be facing two very strong opponents. So with the promise of a competitive weekend and Remember the Titans on the tv screen we all left Seattle in high spirits.
The relaxed mood from the bus ride carried on throughout the night as we dined on authentic Italian food at Britney's (Davis Roberti) cousin's restaurant. Although we didn't get any dessert we were treated to a special show of Lesle playing flick the cork at the end of the night (plus Kate (Deines) and I discovered the complimentary cookies served at our hotel).
With the fun aside, come game time the next night we were all ready to play. We didn't know much about Penn State, but we used that as our advantage to focus on ourselves. The strategy obviously worked because from the kickoff we took control of the game. As we kept Penn State at bay defensively, our attack kept pressure on up top. It didn't take long for the hard work to pay off as Jane (Mitchell) got on the end of a loose ball in the box, bending it into the far post next. With our 1-0 lead we continued to build in our attack and create dangerous chances for ourselves. We were rewarded towards the end of the half with a free kick 40 yards out. Since our team is dangerous in the air I teed up the ball and aimed for a group of gold jerseys jockeying inside the box. Out of the group attacking, Kate won the ball placing it first time in the back of the net giving us a 2-0 lead going into halftime.
While we were happy with our 2-0 lead, we were anything but comfortable. In fact it is common fact that a 2-0 score is one of the hardest to defend against, which proved true in our last 45 minutes of play. With nothing left to lose, Penn came out of the gates flying putting us under high pressure. Although we were facing a very fast and skilled team, we were determined not to lose our lead and bunkered in to weather the attacks up front. With minutes remaining in the clock Penn found a late goal off of a deflection in the box. Now only with a one goal differential and the clock slowly winding down, our opponents desperately threw everything but the kitchen sink at us. But after a last few hard defensive battles we breathed a sigh of relief when the clock stopped with the score standing 2-1 UW.
After we cleaned up and showered we celebrated our victory with dinner at BJ's while our coaches stayed to watch the next game. After dinner we once again headed back to the field to round up the coaches, but kept ourselves plenty entertained by exercising our choir skills. Although I fancy myself a darn good singer I think our bus driver Gary was regretting handing me the microphone after a few numbers of Whitney, Mariah and Run DMC.
After a light practice Saturday morning we headed to Brittany's house to watch the Husky game and have dinner. We enjoyed a nice home cooked meal and celebrated our football team getting their first W of the season. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and relaxed the rest of the night to prepare for the next day.
Sunday games are always rough on away trips, which is why our coaches put an extra emphasis on having a good warm up and staying focused. By the end of 30 minutes everyone was well prepared and ready to start the game. Walking up for the coin toss I was feeling pretty good myself... that is of course until I saw that the center referee was none other than my old arch nemesis, but I turned my focus back on the game.
Our focus and determination was evident from the beginning, as we once again took control of the game. Similar to our start on Friday, we dominated in attack and kept Rutgers out of our defensive half for the majority of the half. Unfortunately, no matter how much we kept possession we couldn't seem to find the back of the net. The second half continued in the same manner, with us dominating most of the play, but unable to finish up top. With time running down, it seemed unbelievable that we still had not scored. But the thing about soccer is that no matter how many opportunities you have it only takes one chance to change the game, or rather a lucky hit to the back of the head. In our case it was the latter scenario that proved true, as a deflected corner kick hit the back of a Rutgers player head, to give them the lead. With time running out we pressed forward even more, but despite our attempts we still couldn't find an equalizer.
Growing desperate for a goal we knew we had to keep everything going forward. With only two minutes left I won the ball on the backline and with no one in front of me and plenty of space I dribbled the ball up the middle. After scoring a goal the week before and assisting a goal on Friday, I wouldn't say I was cocky but I definitely wouldn't have minded adding another glory moment to my dismal stat sheet. So with almost no time on the clock and open space ahead of me, I thought to myself that "this could be it!" Unfortunately, the eyes in the back of my head weren't working that day because if they were I probably could have avoided the sniper tackle to my right ankle. As I rolled around on the ground in pain I wondered to myself if someone had jokingly placed a kick me sign on my shoe. Not wanting to repeat my performance from last week I laid on the grass determined to keep control of my growing anger.
I quickly reentered the game determined to play to the end, but less than a minute later the final whistle blew with the score remaining at 1-0. We walked off of the field with our heads down because we all knew that we should have won. The coaches weren't angry with us, and in fact thought that we had played one of our better games. While Lelse told us to be proud of the way we played she also reminded us that this is what happens when we don't capitalize on our chances at goal or have a moment lapse on defense. Just because we out play a team doesn't mean we should assume we will win. We all realized that to be a great team, we all have to do a better job of doing the extra work and take advantage of every opportunity given to us. Moving forward to our one game weekend at home against another unfamiliar opponent we plan to put this new lesson into practice and do everything it takes to win!
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