Kendyl Pele Blogs From Portland
Check out the latest blog from women's soccer senior Kendyl Pele on the Portland trip:
After a fun weekend in the bay area and coming off of back-to-back wins we were all looking forward to our last pre-season game against Portland. UP has always been a great rivalry for us, but especially after last year's second round loss where we were forced to play a man down for an entire half, we were all excited for the chance to play the Pilots on equal footing. At practice everyone was focused on our upcoming game, and by the end of the week our team was ready to play. All in all we looked pretty good: defensively we were solid, the midfield was working well together, the forwards were hitting their shots, and Jim had finally cut his hair. Yes, things were looking a lot better.
After watching an awesome Husky football victory Saturday night we all went to bed anxious to add another upset to the list. Usually when I can't sleep I turn on the TV and watch whatever trashy reality show is playing on MTV. This is where Amy and I differ, because instead of spending her time watching the newest drama with Snooky and The Situation on Jersey Shore, she uses her time constructively. Which is why come game time Sunday morning Amy read us a heartfelt letter that she stayed up writing the night before that got everyone ready to play.
With Amy's words in mind we started off the game full throttle. Finding our rhythm early we were awarded a corner kick early on in the sixth minute. With our top three ball winners in the play I chose to seal the back post. Lining up in our set piece ready to go to our spots Sarah and I realized that we were marked by only one player. While I don't consider myself a great ball winner in the air, I have the deceptive advantage of looking like I am. Thus, the Pilot defender made the grave mistake of choosing to mark me back post while leaving my acrobatic friend to run to the top of the box and head the ball into the back of the net. After the screaming and cheering, we quickly refocused to prepare for the battle ahead. The remainder of the half we battled defensively, but also kept pressure on the Pilots backline. By the end of the half the score was 1-0 in our favor, but we knew that Portland wasn't going to back down.
Coming back onto the field we were still feeling confident in our play, and patiently waited for the Pilots to take the field so we could resume the game. The game continued in the same fashion with both teams defending well and creating chances in attack. The physical play increased as the minutes wound down, but for some odd reason the calls seemed disproportionately against us. But from experience, and watching the discovery channel, I know that yelling at a hostile ref only provokes the beast further. So instead we just focused on the things that were within our control. As time slowly elapsed Portland changed formation to put more numbers forward. We were handling the increased pressure well, but with 10 minutes left in regulation time the Pilots were able to convert off of a through ball in the box. Despite losing the lead, we bounced back and continued to play hard for the rest of the game. When the final whistle blew we quickly jogged off the field to prepare for our second overtime battle of the season.
Although we were tired our preparation and fitness leading up to this point gave us confidence going into overtime. The first 10 minutes passed scoreless, and we could feel the Pilots wearing down. The next 10 minutes seemed to go just as fast, and just as we thought a draw was going to be inevitable, the center referee saw something in our box that resulted in a penalty kick for Portland.
There was 60 seconds left.
Just like any wild animal that you try to domesticate their behavior can be unpredictable and dangerous, but as I stared unbelievingly in the eyes of the beast I threw caution aside. Having gone head to head with this specific breed before, I knew that my cries of outrage would be futile. Getting no answers from the official, who didn't even know who the foul was on, we knew that there wasn't anything we could do. With the golden goal rule in effect we lined up around the box and watched as the game slipped out of our hands.
Walking off of the field emotions were a mix of sadness, anger, and shock, but the coaches wouldn't let us hang our heads as Lesle told us to wipe away the tears and jog off the field. Back in the locker room we were all still fuming about the game because we knew we had played well and done everything we could do. But in those surreal moments standing in the locker room surrounded by my team I realized that if an undeserving call is what it takes to beat us, then that's not such a bad thing. While we'll all be angry about this game for a long time, looking back at our performance just gives us all more confidence heading into Pac-10 play. There is a unanimous feeling of determination among each player and a confidence that we can compete against any opponent. Plus, this game was good preparation for the beginning of conference and our first game against Arizona.
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