Kickin' It With Kendyl

Oct. 22, 2009

After all of our hard work conditioning in the summer, a tough preseason, the start of school, and the return of the warden, we have finally come to the start of Pac-10 play! In our beginning match against WSU we would have liked to have seen a win, and after a hard battle we knew we had our chances to finish the game. In the end, we took the tie realizing that we still have room to improve, but happy to at least have all 11 players walking off the field (which is more than can be said for WSU).

We didn't let the tie against the Cougs slow us down, which is why I'm guessing our coaches had us meet the next morning at 9 a.m. to have a 'light' practice. Since the warden had released us on good behavior last fall, we assumed that we were in the clear. But again, Lesle has warned us about the dangers of assuming. In similar Warden fashion, Jim created a 10 x 10 box, but unlike last year where we had to stand in the 'jail' for punishment we were instructed to run around it this time. Oh yes, the warden had learned some new tricks since last year. His instructions of 'go to jail' had been replaced with 'go to the fence' ...only thing was he meant the fence on the opposite side the field, and by 'go' he meant sprint as hard as you can there and back. Even the offenses became harsher: not arching a run, not getting back on D, playing too slow and even tying your shoe were grounds for a trip to the fence. With the return of the warden, and a chip on our shoulder from our draw against WSU, we looked ahead to a hard week of practice leading up to our away trip to sunny Arizona.

We knew that it was going to be hot. We even prepared by practicing inside with our sweat gear on, but nothing could really prepare us for the heat wave that hit us as we walked out of the airport into the blazing Arizona sun. However, since we weren't going to have to face the heat until Sunday, we focused on having a good practice that night to prepare for our game against the Wildcats the following evening.

Since the game was to kickoff at 7 p.m., we didn't have to worry about staring into a glaring sun, but walking onto the dimly lit U of A field, we wondered if the rays from the sun might have been a better trade off. With the orangy-glowing lights and the anti-pump-up music, we realized that we would have to create our own atmosphere for the game, and considering we probably had more fans in the stands we were already half way there!

Despite a hectic start where we found ourselves a little disorganized, we figured it out at halftime and were able to control the rest of the game. Jane scored our first goal of the game by picking up a loose ball at the top of the box. Being Jane's first goal in her Husky career and the first of the game, you would think that someone would show a little more excitement, but perhaps it was the shock of it being her first goal that stunned her into a lousy celebration. Perhaps she should have taken a few pointers from Nikki who not only is a pro at celebrating, but proved so yet again with a goal late in the game and, of course, a Nikki Murray celebration (without the air kisses this time). With a stellar performance by the defense and Nikki and Jane's goals, we sealed our first Pac-10 win of the season, beating the Wildcats 2-0!

With one win under our belt, we could breathe easy and enjoy our Saturday... Well as much as someone can enjoy a Saturday in Tempe, Arizona. Of course our coaches wouldn't let us down which is why after our afternoon practice we assembled ourselves at the end line to watch Lesle, Amy, and Miranda in a 50 yard race across the field. Even though it only lasted a few moments, the battle to the finish line was cut throat as Amy sliced through the pre-wrap followed closely by Lesle, and then Miranda who apparently 'wasn't ready.' After the race our coaches promised us even more fun, with reservations at Gordon Biersch to watch the Husky football game (which they had tickets for). Despite some minor resentment on our part, we were all looking forward to having a nice sit-down meal and rooting on our fellow Dawgs.

I think since our team has had past problems with buses, combined with the fact that the coaches would be absent from dinner, they thought it would be wise to forgo a bus altogether and give us the safer option of walking to dinner. This of course was made complicated by the hundreds of inebriated fans swarming the streets and, oh ya, the huge mountain we had to walk around! With thoughts of 'She'll be coming around the mountain' in my head, we arrived at the restaurant a half hour later, a little sweaty, and a lot of hungry. After dinner, even though we weren't looking forward to another trek around the mountain, the walk went easier with knowledge that on the other side was Yogurt Land waiting for us, and even better on Lesle's tab!

The next day we piled on the SPF, loaded up on H2O, and got ready for our final game in Arizona. Despite the heat, we were all ready to get out and play. Although the Sun Devils were able to get on the board early in the first half off a disorganized play on our end, we were able to limit their chances and keep the game close going into halftime. As were sat on the benches holding cold towels on our necks and rehydrating with water and Gatorade, Lesle talked to us about how we can't let this game go: 'This isn't a game you want to look back on and wish you could have worked harder for.' With that said, we all took the field determined to outwork the other team.

Every air ball we challenged, every tackle we stuck, every 50/50 ball we ran down, and by the 60th minute, our hard work paid off as Kate's shot from outside the 18 was bobbled by the ASU keeper giving Webber a chance to slide in and tie the game for us. The last 30 minutes we possessed the ball and battled on defense to give ASU little opportunity for a comeback. But for the second time in two weeks we found ourselves ending regulation time with a draw and heading into overtime. Defending the entire game, I thought I would change things up and try my hand at attacking for a bit. So as the clock wound down, I saw my opportunity as I picked up a loose ball at half, dribbled it towards the goal, saw the open net, but instead of taking the shot which any normal player would do I made the split second decision to pass to the defender in front of me! Thankfully, Kasser and the rest of the defense were able to stop their counter attack, and for the last two minutes of the game I decided it was best to stay where I was and defend. When the whistle blew we walked off the field exhausted, scraped up and bloody (specifically Chelsea).

Even though we tied a game that we could have won, no one was disappointed at our efforts. Once again we proved that not only can we come back from being down, but we can outwork, outplay, and out-battle another team regardless of the conditions we are in. Looking forward to our upcoming games against Cal and Stanford and the remainder of our season, we know to expect obstacles and setbacks. But I think what this last week has shown us is that no matter what challenges we have to face and no matter how high the mountain, as a team we will find away to get through it... or at least walk around it!

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