Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ah, the soccer

Mitch and I just watched the women's world cup soccer semi-final game between France and the U.S. It was a great game and France outplayed the U.S. for a large portion of the second half. France dominated the mid-field and showed a lot of skill in ball handling and maintaining possession. Somehow, through will, a much better goalkeeper, some key substitutions in the mid-field during the second half, better defense, better training and endurance, and the amazing head of Abbie Wambach, the U.S. managed to win the game 3-1.

It was a super fun game to watch. The players were very collegial to one another, the refereeing was decent and there was plenty of excitement (not always true in a soccer game).

Mitch, Lucy and I watched the quarter final game against Brazil on Sunday and that was quite a nail-biter. It wasn't as fun to watch as tonight's game because the teams got aggravated with one another and the refereeing wasn't that great and really interfered with the game. It was still an exciting game to watch and it was one that the U.S. seemed to deserve to win (better overall play, some bad calls against us), looked like we were going to lose, and eventually won in penalty kicks after 122 minutes of playing time (much of which we played with only 10 players since one of our fullbacks got red carded during the second half).

All this soccer watching plus Lucy taking soccer at the YMCA for the first time ever this summer takes me back to my own long personal history with the game. I do love soccer even if I spent much of my early years of playing standing in the back field picking flowers, much to my dad's dismay. I played from age 5 through fifth grade then stopped in middle school when all the good players left the city league to play on select teams. I started again in high school in the very first years of the girls soccer program at Pullman High. The program was kind of a shambles since very few girls had ever even played before but it sure was fun to have a focus for all my teen angst. We pretty much sucked as a team and I don't think we won very many games but it was a great outlet for my personal ferocity and I'm glad I played.

I didn't play in college although the Evergreen women's coach asked me if I wanted to. My skill level was nowhere near that of the team players but I probably could have practiced with the team and been a bench warmer. Sometimes I wish I had done that. At the time I thought, "Oh when I'm in my thirties I'll get back to soccer by finding a groovy group of adults to play pick-up games with." But here I am almost out of my 30's and still no soccer as an adult. Hmm hard to say what the future holds but I will say that it is harder to find a group of groovy adults to play with than you might expect.

Anyway watching the world cup games has been great fun and I'm looking forward to Sunday's final game between the U.S. and Japan. I hope Lucy keeps playing if she likes it and that it anchors her teen years as much as it did for me. Big thanks to my dad for introducing me to the game and encouraging me to keep at it even though I was never really a natural (not to say that I was a complete soccer moron either dudes, I can still pass, dribble, and pound one into the goal on occasion - I'm just not a master of the fancy footwork...).

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