Stacey's soccer season is winding down now, and her last game is tonight. I believe we are currently ranked second out of the 6 U12 WASA teams, so the girls have enjoyed some success this year. Stacey has grown into a competent goalie, of all things, by being bold enough to come out of the box and grab the ball before the opponent shoots... just like I taught her. Honest.
Saturday was the last practice of the season, and was the "fun day" where the parents and the girls play against each other. We were out running around in the hot sun for about maybe 30 minutes total, enough to wipe out most of the adults and some of the kids. The adults lost, 2 to 1 in sudden death overtime, where the team's leading scorer passed me, playing sweeper, and took a shot that just snuck in on the correct side of the post. Cute kid, Alexa, and plenty of aggressive and hotshot during the team's games. I had harassed her a little during the game, sneaking in and stealing passes, blocking shots, and I finally got her mad enough to beat me on a play and score. I made it clear to her and her dad later that I didn't let her beat me, that she really did earn the point. That was the way the game was supposed to end: victory for the girls, camaraderie and teamwork defeating the greater size and life experience of the adults. It was a good thing.
The game against the girls helped me remember my love for soccer, and how fun it is supposed to be, at a time when my self-confidence as a player has been shaken. I felt good about playing, the other adults complemented me on my mad defense skillz, and everyone left with a smile on their face. So then yesterday was the game in my over-30 league, and my spirit and confidence was fully restored, and it showed.
Unfortunately, we had only 11 people on the team show up. A full complement, but no subs. So I played for just over 75 minutes of our 80 minute game in the blazing sun, finishing dehydrated, clumsy, and with a splitting headache. But before I fell to pieces, I contributed to my team, making a few good passes, harassing forwards on the other team to pass before they were settled, and making what should have been a key save in the game, only to have the ref call a foul on me. The play was against a fast opponent with good ball control who got around me at midfield when no one was behind me. I chased him down to the goal, and stepped on the ball just before he was able to get the shot off, accidentally knocking us both down. A ref called it a foul, to the great protest of most of my teammates, who all gave me encouragement and said it was a crap call. He took the free kick, sending his team up 2-1. We held for a while longer, but by the end we were all too winded to keep up, and we ended up losing 4-1.
So at the end of the day we lost, I ended up with a skinned knee and a headache, wiped out and sore, and I've never felt better. To boot, I got to the field right when the game was starting, and didn't get a chance to stretch. Today I'm a little stiff, tomorrow should be hell.
In other news, my lady friend and I, to the best of my reckoning, are officially a couple now. I've even heard Stacey say something I never thought would come out of her mouth in casual conversation: "my Dad and his girlfriend". Her name is Liberty, and I like her a lot. I haven't been in a romantic relationship for several years, and it's nice to wake that part of my brain up again. I'll be sparing on the details for everyone's privacy, but suffice to say that if my blog is cheerier than normal, she's a big reason why.
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