April 23, 2007

Sorry for the extended delay…. Allow me to take you back in time to Saturday, March 24, 2007. The Kicking Chicks are hosting their first game of the season and it’s a glorious morning on the shores of Lake Travis. Our opponents for the day have traveled 50 miles south to our place and are also sitting on two points after two games. We knew this wouldn’t be an easy game with our competition having played in the top division in the fall, earning 15 points in 9 games. We are the newcomers to this standard of play and the girls know they have to be at their very best every game to get a result. This day would be no different. They game starts out with a battle in midfield with the ball being played within 15 yards of the halfway line. Their defenders are playing deep, back on the edge of their penalty box, while our defenders have pushed up to put on the pressure. The balls rolls free to one of our defenders who clears it into the space between their center half and left fullback. In practice sessions, we’ve continued to stress the importance of not playing every ball to a teammate’s feet and to look for open field in front of them. Our right midfielder is a tiny girl with terrific pace, an engine that won’t quit and a controlled first touch. She runs in from an angle to pick up the clearance, takes one touch to settle herself and squares it blindly into the open field, where our center forward is running to meet it. The pass connects inside the penalty box, she takes two touches to get within 12 yards of goal and nails it into the top of the net. Barely a minute has passed and we’re up 1-nil. Just like the previous game, we’ve taken the early lead, but this time we want to make sure we don’t give up the advantage. Our opponents are a real spirited team, lots of talking, movement and aggression, with 4 or 5 players possessing good ball skills. They’re exceptional at set pieces and throw-ins, which can be real difference makers at this age. The first half continues with neither team budging and though our play is a bit smoother than the first two games, it’s still very scrappy. Our defenders are doing well, blocking any shots before they get to our ‘keeper. With about 8 minutes to go in the half, there’s a real scramble in front of our goal. They get a shot off from about 3 yards out but it hits the far post, bounces back into the field of play where another of their players gets to it and first time’s it from about 6 yards. The shot takes a deflection off our central midfielder’s thigh and bounces off the other post. Our ‘keeper reacts quickly to dive for the rebound but the ball slips away from her. Now she’s flat one her stomach and completely out of the play, leaving the goal wide open. One of our defenders gets a boot on it but only shanks it about 5 yards outside the goal mouth, where their left midfielder runs in to roll a pass right into the goal mouth again. For chrissakes, I’m going to have another heart attack with defending like this. From about 4 yards out, one of their players reaches it with her toe and once again, it’s rolling towards our far post. Our ‘keeper raises herself just enough to scramble towards the ball on her hands and knees. She springs into the air just as the ball knicks the inside of the post and falls on it. No goal. Our defenders jump up and yell as if we’ve just scored as they all run over to help our ‘keeper up and give her a pat on the back. It was a real pleasure to see the happiness on their faces and my only hope was those smiles would be even bigger at the end of the game. We bounce back quickly from the mad scramble and the last minutes of the half are mostly played within 30 yards of their goal. We’re playing a lot of long balls but with their defenders playing so deep, they’re a difficult team to break down. With two minutes to go until the halftime break, one of their defenders puts everything behind a clearance and the ball goes flying over the top of our defenders. Their three forwards are chasing it but we get to the ball first, maybe 25 yards from the goal line. With our defenders running towards their own goal, one of our girls takes a big swing at the ball to get it clear, misses completely and falls flat on her butt. Their center forward seizes the opportunity, collects the ball and puts a nice angled ball into the path of their left wing. Our right fullback gets between their winger and the goal but turns to the inside just as the girl gets off a so-so shot from about 7 yards out. Our ‘keeper’s view is blocked and the ball rolls into the goal at the near post. 1-1. It’s always hard on a team to give up a goal just before the break and this one no different. The halftime whistle blows a minute or so later and our girls trudge over to the touchline. Coming out of the break, the Chicks seem to be re-energized. We’re completely dominating play the first 10 minutes of the second half and the opposition are arguing with each other and generally becoming very frustrated. One of their players takes her frustration out on one of our defenders by stomping on her knee after she goes to the ground. It’s an obvious foul but the young ref, who’s actually having a good game, doesn’t see it. Our girl is writhing on the ground and for the first time this season, I’m called onto the field to tend to an injury. Our player has tears in her eyes and shows me the stud marks on her knee. We get her to her feet and she limps off the field. She’s a tough little kid, within 10 minutes she’s begging to go back on, and I oblige. With about 15 minutes to play, we’re applying more and more pressure and their defenders can barley clear the ball out of the penalty box. We’re getting shots on goal but most are harmless and it’s looking more and more like both teams will draw their third games in a row to start the season. Now our girls are getting frustrated but they never turn on each other, the opponent or the referee. We’ve made it very clear to them from the beginning that unbecoming behavior will not be tolerated. With 5 minutes to play we’re still at 1-1 and are players are dragging, still not fit enough to play properly for the full 60 minutes. The opposition is fitter and it’s starting to show with the game shifting to our end of the field. They get off a couple of shots but their both wide of the mark. With about a minute to play, one of the ensuing goal kicks travels about 25 yards and hits one their girls right in the knee. The ball rolls to our center half who hits it first time over the top of the defense. Time is running out as our center forward breaks into the open field, chasing the ball with everything she has. She’s left their defenders in the dust and collects the ball on the right corner of their penalty box, one on one with the ‘keeper, who’s only 2 or 3 yards off her line. Instead of taking the ball into the middle for a better angle for the shot, our forward dribbles straight towards the end line, her angle shrinking with every breath. She’s about 5 yards out to the right of goal when the ‘keeper makes her move. The ‘keeper takes about two steps when our girl calmly side foots it to the far post. The shot has a bit of zip on it and nestles into the net. The girls let out a huge yell and go to congratulate their teammate, who’s on the ground at the end line, completely exhausted. The girls get back for the kickoff and after the opposition send a long one into our half, the final whistle blows. It’s game over and we’ve won our first game of the season 2-1. The girls are thrilled and even though they have barely an ounce of energy in them, they’re jumping up and down. What an amazing sight that is…kids being happy. I sure wish I hadn’t waited all those years to coach youth soccer.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 12:45 PM on April 23, 2007

I sure wish I hadn’t waited all those years to coach youth soccer. Aw Texan, that's the best! Congrats to the Chicks on the win, and when are we going to get our SpoFi Kicking Chicks fan club logowear???

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:22 PM on April 23, 2007

Now, that's a recap. Go KC!

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:44 PM on April 23, 2007

Way to go, Chicks! Congrats on taking on a successful team, playing them tough and having fun while winning! Texan, if this youth coaching gig doesn't work out for you, you might have a future in sportswriting. My blood was pumping harder and harder as I read... I don't think I took a breath once the ball went over their defense.

posted by dusted at 01:46 PM on April 23, 2007

Having fun, winning, doesn't get much better. Go Chicks. Go Tex.

posted by owlhouse at 03:45 PM on April 23, 2007

Thanks for the comments. Since I'm behind on the updates, they will be coming fast and furious to get you caught up. Now...can someone tell me how to upload an acrobat file? Our logo is ready for your viewing and I'm actually picking up t-shirts tomorrow.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 03:56 PM on April 23, 2007

Tex, sounds like you got a righteous squad of young ladies there, with maybe just a hint of decent coaching thrown in for good measure. Best of luck. Kickin' Chicks, Kickin' Ass.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 03:59 PM on April 23, 2007

I will buy a Kicking Chicks t-shirt. Think about it.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:50 PM on April 23, 2007

Texan for Coach of the Year! I always look forward to reading the recap of the last game. Go Chicks!

posted by jojomfd1 at 05:59 PM on April 23, 2007

What an amazing sight that is…kids being happy Texan, regardless of which sport is involved, that's what it's all about. Win, lose, or draw, you're doing a great job. Keep it up. Please send a Kickin' Chicks merchandise catalog.

posted by Howard_T at 06:38 PM on April 23, 2007

That was an awesome read. Thanks! And congrats to you and the players. Nicely done.

posted by 86 at 07:12 PM on April 23, 2007

You guys are fantastic. Thanks so much. Here's a sample of the logo/t-shirt.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 09:20 PM on April 23, 2007

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.