The soccer playoffs got under way Friday night. I'm not sure who was more excited, me or Scout. We won the first game in a rout, 6-0, earning the maximum 10 points.
After the game, we hustled down to the U of A for Quinn's performance. Her class was asked to sing a couple songs at a fundraiser for arts in the schools. They sang "My Favorite Things" and "We Need a Little Christmas." There aren't too many things that warm the heart more than a group of 2nd and 3rd graders earnestly belting out Christmas songs. The audience gave the kids a standing ovation; the smile on Quinn's face was priceless.
On Saturday we played The Killer Smurfs, the only team to beat us all year. We lost a tightly contested game, 3-2. It was a weird game. We took the lead in the first quarter, and it looked like we would go into the half ahead 1-0. Unfortunately, right before the first half ended, our goalie badly misjudged a gently rolling ball, so we went into half tied. The girl was distraught, and the rest of the team was clearly shaken. The 3rd quarter was brutal. The ball barely left our end, and we were lucky they only scored once. When the Smurfs got another goal at the beginning of the 4th quarter, it didn't look good. I was just hoping we could somehow avoid being blown out.
Then something beautiful happened. Our girls caught fire. Our fastest girl started getting by their seemingly impenetrable defense, and when she scored on a breakaway, we were right back in it. We had so many shots in the last five minutes, I really thought we were going to ride the momentum and pull the game out. In the end, we just couldn't get the equalizer. Even though we fell short, the girls learned a valuable lesson about sports, and more importantly, life. Like the great Jimmy Valvano said, "Don't give up, don't ever give up." When the final whistle blew, we were on the wrong side of the score, but I felt like we were winners.
It looks like we'll finish second in our group, and the top two teams advance. We'll play the winner of the other group Wednesday. We beat that team pretty handily without two of our top players, so while nothing in sports is guaranteed, I fully expect to get a third crack at the Smurfs in the finals. I hope the way we ended the game carries over, and maybe, just maybe, third time's the charm. If we play with the heart we showed in that last quarter, no matter what the score says, we'll be champs in my book.