Kickin' It With Kendyl

Oct. 1, 2009

After coming off an awesome year, I knew that I wanted this season to be even better. All year our team focused on honing our strengths and improving our weaknesses. On an individual level I knew that I could also learn from my mistakes from the previous season to make myself and my team better, and while I really did work hard to improve my game, one would think that after my problem with time management last year I would have learned to get a new alarm clock!

The bus was to leave at 5:45 am. My roommate, Jane, woke me up at 5:35 am.It took me a few groggy moments to realize that once again my alarm clock had failed me, and that I was about ten minutes away from being left behind on our first big road trip of the season. Scrambling to gather my things I quickly threw on my khakis, made sure my jerseys were packed, pulled my hair back into a pony, and dashed out the door. Luckily, Brittany's quick driving skills got us to the bus without a hitch! Unfortunately, it wasn't until I arrived in California that I realized that I didn't pack any underwear...

Despite my little set back I was still excited about the upcoming weekend, and our kickoff game against the Irvine Anteaters. The irony of playing a team whose mascot was an animal that devours ants was fully felt by Kate, who discovered an ant infestation in her soccer bag (which ended up spreading to the entire van). However, our problems with both the ants and Anteaters were far from over.

We knew coming into the game that Irvine was going to come out hard. But even with this knowledge and weathering their initial attack we found it difficult to play our game. Although we were a little off we went into halftime with a 1-0 lead. However, our off-tempo play caught up to us early in the second half as the Anteaters quickly trumped our lead making the score 2-1 in their favor. With less than a half left to play, we finally started to pick up our game and build an offensive attack, but with the clock quickly winding down and our attempts at goal falling just short, it looked liked things were going to turn out badly. That is of course until V took a through ball from the midfield and placed it perfectly in the back of the net, with 3 minutes of regulation time left.

Pumped up from V's game saving goal, we were confident going into our first overtime of the season. That confidence lasted a whole of 1 minute and 30 seconds, which was all the time it took for Nikki to blast a shot from 30 yards out to give us the game winning goal. Since this wasn't the first game winner Nikki has given us this season she was a practiced veteran at celebrating, which is why after pumping her fists into the air she proceeded to blow kisses and wave at the stands. While we were happy to get a win out of what had started as a bad game for us, celebrations were short lived in order to focus on our next opponent.

Our Sunday game against Cal State Fullerton would prove to be another tough challenge for our team. From the beginning we struggled to string passes together and get the rhythm of play going. It also didn't help that the referee was a little whistle happy and stopped play every few minutes, but needless to say our team got some work on defensive free kicks that day (a 14:2 foul ratio in the first half!). We left the first half with both sides scoreless, and our team especially frustrated. We knew that we were playing sloppy and needed to be more dangerous going to goal. So for the last 45 minutes of the game we pounded the ball up the field in desperate attempts to put one away. Again, it wasn't until the clock was winding down that we could get our first goal. Once again Nikki Murray took a pass in the center of the field and rocketed a shot from 25 yards out. With only 1 minute and 30 seconds left in the game we celebrated our victory. But Lesle always warned us what happens when you assume things!

With 30 seconds left of play a foul was rewarded to Fullerton, at 12 seconds a corner kick, and at 9 seconds a goal. So for the second time that week we went into overtime, but this time around our goal never came and after 20 minutes the game stayed tied at 1-1.

Obviously upset and angry after the game our team wanted nothing more than to leave the field and get back home. We raced to the locker room to get cleaned up, and with brief goodbyes to our supporters of friends and family we raced off to LAX to catch our 8:40 flight.

It's interesting to look back on the weekend and see how time played such an intricate role in our fate. For example, if I had woken up a mere ten minutes later I would have missed our bus, If V and Nikki hadn't scored at the right moment we would have lost the game, if we had just held on for 9 more seconds we would have won, and if I hadn't been a good teammate and helped unload the vans at the airport I would have made the flight!

It was literally a matter of seconds that decided who got to go home on time, and who had to stay for the later flight. The lucky few who were first in line for self check in made the cut just before the computers closed off the flight. With no one in line and 4 employees working at the check in counter, it was needless to say that the 15 of us who were left over were a little confused and annoyed that Alaskan Staff refused to check us into our flight. So as we waved goodbye to our fellow teammates (Nikki, Kate, Kasser, Hannah, Louise, and Kelsea) the rest of us waited around to get rebooked for our 10:30 flight. The rest of the night went on without a hitch, with the exception of Jesse's trouble through security where our little freshman was pulled aside, patted down, and screened. We would have had documentation of this, but another rule we quickly learned at the airport is that you are not allowed to film a teammate getting searched!

With some time to sit back and think about our weekend we all realized that things could have been a lot worse. We weren't happy with the way we played and we definitely found areas that we need to improve on, but the fact that on Friday night we had comeback from being down a goal to going on and winning was a true testament to out team's battling ability. And when we let go of our lead late in the game on Sunday, it would have been easy to have given up, but instead we fought hard and played for two overtime periods. After being so close to losing this weekend, I think we are all excited for our upcoming double header weekend to prove that we can play our game regardless of any outside distractions. Because what it all comes down to are those few seconds that can change everything, and how we as players handle those moments. Defending a corner could be the difference between a win and a tie, taking a 30 yard shot could be the game winning goal, and those few seconds spent unloading bags could be the factor of missing your flight!

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