Towering over me was a highschool beast of a girl and I was supposed to defend her. My mark had to be half a foot taller than me, at least three years older and most definitely more accustomed to tournaments then me. I was tired and could feel a blister forming on the back of my heel beneath my white socks. The sun was beating down on us and the hot turf burnt our skin any time we dared touch the ground. When I thought of myself on an upper division club soccer team I knew it would be hard but never did I imagine this.
The Orcutt Cup, a long awaited tournament three hours away from home. On the club team, the Gryphons, made up of high school girls Cali, Emma, Rachel, my sister and I were the odd ones out due to the fact that we were only eleven compared to the fourteen and fifteen year olds on the team. We had been hand picked from rec games or found out from older family members. The future Lady Warriors, my high school's girl’s soccer team, already playing on team a together. Now just because we were trained and prepared for this tournament did not mean we weren’t afraid because all five of us were. We were tough but there was no way to know if we were tough enough to hold our own against these girls, let alone beat them.
On the first day of the tournament despite all the odds against us we won both games. Though we didn’t do it easily and were all beaten and bruised. We had blisters and headaches, but we also had two victories which meant we were already ahead of most the teams. That night to make sure we were still thinking as a team, we ate dinner together. Pizza was not exactly the healthiest thing we could of ate yet our parents allowed us to eat the greasy food anyways. After a long and much needed nights sleep we got up early once again and left for the field. The schedule for the second day was two more games and then the Championship game. The first game that it was cold and the plastic of the turf was slick. That game we spent almost as much time on our butts as we did running, which also usually ended with us falling. Through all the falling and sliding around both teams managed to have a point by the fourth quarter. Of course that made the fourth quarter of the game twice as hard as usual. The ball was constantly moving between the teams and with three minutes left in the game our center took a long shot but the goalie blocked it. She blocked it but she just couldn’t hold on and as soon as that ball left her hands Rachel, as wing, bounced the ball right back into the goal giving us a third win. Then came the possible last game. If we win we qualify for the Championship game, but if we lose it’s all over, all the pain that our bodies went through for nothing besides a participation pin.
The second game on day two of the Orcutt Cup. By the time it was our turn to play again it was no longer cold and icy, but so scorching hot that the warm-up alone left us dripping in sweat. By the time we hit the field we were already tired from sitting in the heat because of the lack of trees. Once the game started though we didn’t care how hot it was only that we left everything on that field whether a loss or a victory. We gave up our bodies for the game, not caring how hard we were hit, if we were kicked in the face and because of the turf, burns are included in the long list of injuries we received. Of course it wasn’t just our team in the game and out opponent wanted to continue just as we did. Nevertheless the team full of younger kids from a small town accomplished what even we didn’t believe possible, qualified for one more game.
The game wasn’t set to start till after the sun went down meaning we were to play our Championship game beneath the lights. If you haven’t played for something as important as a championship game or you haven’t been a part of a team that's as close as a family then you just wouldn’t understand. Under the lights you feel like you can honestly accomplish anything and with a team full of skill and pumped up on adrenaline you really can. The whole game went by with nobody scoring. Which of course meant the game was to end in sudden death (a shoot out). A shoot out is one of the most stressful for anyone… shooters, parents, coaches, but most of the stress lands on the goalie’s shoulders. One by one we each shot and when our goalie’s fingers grazed the last shot against her as the ball flew into the net and the other team began to scream we ran to our goalie and took a big group hug, because despite the loss we knew we had each other and we knew that together we would continue to get better and grow closer together as only a group that has went through pain, time, and lots of memories of course can. Getting second place in this tournament showed us that no matter how good we are in our town there will always be a team our age that’s training harder, learning faster, and in the end is just better, because of it we knew we had to do the same.