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THE BIG YEAR
OUCH! I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL THIS ENDS! GRRR! That’s all you could hear on that summer day just five months ago.
Hey Mike, do you want to come over and take a swim, it is HOT!!
“Yeah, of course Wayna,” said Mike, “I’m just going to ask Kenny and Sam if they want to come along as well.”
“OK then,” I said.
As we were waiting for my mom to come and pick us up, we began to talk.
“Yo, today Coach really went hard on us,” said Sam.
“Yeah, I know,” said Kenny, “but this season is ours to win the State championship. We have a good team and everyone seems to be in great shape, so why wouldn’t we have a shot at the title?”
Mike then said, “But if Coach works us this hard all season we might not live to see the playoffs.”
“Ha,Ha,Ha.” we all began to laugh.
Though he was right. Coach had really been working hard. I wouldn’t blame him though. This was his third year as the head coach of our high school’s varsity soccer team and he had not had much success previously. This year a lot of us had grown and had become quicker and stronger. The whole school was looking for us to win the State Championship. The only problem was the Tampa Bay High School team. They had won the State Championship for the past two years and this season most of their squad was seniors. It would be a hard game if we had to face them in the championships, so we had to prepare.
It was the first game of the season and everyone was really pumped up. We were playing Miami Beach High School. They were a good team and would be a challenge for us. The whistle blew and the season had begun. I passed the ball to Kenny.
“Hey, over here,” said Mike.
Kenny then passed the ball to him and he shot. GOAL!!!!! In the end we won 3-0. It was a pretty good game and now the team knew that we had improved substantially since the last season.
“Great game!” said Coach, “You guys really played well and I am proud of you all. I expect that you guys will play this well for the rest of the season.”
And we did play well. We won our next three games, only allowing two goals and scoring ten. The entire team was working together and were building the chemistry needed for a team to flourish.
It was now our fifth game of the season and we were going to play Orlando High School. They were in fourth place in the standings and we thought that they would be easy to beat, but we thought wrong. The final score was 2-2. We had given up a penalty in the closing minutes. It was a disappointing tie and we knew we were in for a week of hard training.
When we arrived at practice on Monday, Coach made us run 20 laps around the track and then we did 20 suicides across the field along with our normal routine. This continued for the whole week and a lesson had been learned. After that long week we knew we could not let Coach down again. We began practicing harder than we ever did and we never let up in the games. If we were losing, we kept our heads high.
This hard work paid off and by the end of the season our record was 8-1-1. This astounding record landed our team a spot in the playoffs!!! This was a very good thing, but the only bad thing was that people thought we were sure to win. This impacted some of the player on our team.
Today was the first game of the playoffs and we were going to face Tallahassee Academy. In the beginning of the game the opponent controlled most of the possession. Our goalkeeper, Eric was up to the challenge and made a lot of great saves. In the second half, the opponent got a free kick on the edge of the box and they capitalized. Luckily, we were able to get 2 quick goals due to mistakes by their defense.
The following week was the semi-final. It was supposed to be a good game, but the team that we faced didn’t play so well and we won 3-1.
Now it was time for the most important game of the season. For the most part, our schedule was fairly easy during the regular season and we had not played a team that was as good as Tampa Bay High School. During the week, Coach went easy on us and he made it clear that we shouldn’t do anything stupid, but some kids didn’t listen.
The night before the game, Coach got a call from someone’s mom. The next day while in the locker room, Coach came into the room.
“Team, I am sorry to tell you this, but last night John got into a car crash and broke both his legs.”
The team sighed in disappointment. John was one of our top scorers, but we knew that we would have to focus on the game and step to up the plate.
The whistle blew and the game began. Everyone’s family was there rooting for us. It must have been good luck, because we scored a goal late in the first half and we knew that in the second the opponent would come out firing out on all cylinders and they did.
For the entire second half, we were pinned back into our side of the field. We defended with everything we had and it was working. Shot after shot, cross after cross, we defended and when it looked like all hope was lost, the whistle blew, YAAAAY!!! We went wild and in all the commotion I remembered just five months ago.