Let’s just say, walking into the locker room last Wednesday, September 29, my heart was racing and I was extremely nervous. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but getting out of one’s comfort zone is something we tell our students all the time. So it was time to walk the walk!
I was thinking of my pre-game discussion with Coach Van Dyke days previous and the reminders and kind words he sent me on game day. Within minutes of being in the locker room, the girls said, “Mr. Van Dyke’s not coming?!?” I was unsure whether it was a question or a statement. But regardless, we had a huge game to play. There are only four league games this season, so every game counts if we want to compete for the coveted ETIAC League banner. And this game was against perennial powerhouse Alexander Galt.
My pre-game discussion in the locker room was short and sweet, i.e. starting line up and keys areas to focus on – communication, punt coverage, corner kicks. Final reminder: girls, we know what we’re doing! Whose house? OUR HOUSE!
The first half of the game was our strongest half. Your Spartans came out flying. Striker Joliane Tremblay sniped an early goal, and then minutes later did it again. 2-0 early lead! The girls were communicating well, and were often first to the ball in the midfield. In particular, Neva Deblois seemed to enjoy playing striker for the first time in her life – she was a great support to Joliane and our midfielders.
But then we let up, and at this level if you don’t maintain your level, you pay for it, as the Pipers’ #13 scored two quick goals of her own. Although the players adjusted well after that by frustrating her and not giving her any space for the rest of the game, the damage was done – the game was tied and our momentum was gone.
As evidenced by our second half, which was much weaker. Our team shape suffered, we were late to the ball, and we got a little tired. Galt took advantage and peppered us with strong shots from outside and inside the box. But super-keeper Maddie Lippman bailed us out and salvaged the 2-2 tie, making critical saves, in wet, sloppy conditions, time and again. Covered in mud head to toe after the game, Maddie is completely deserving of Player Of The GameTM honours – congratulations, Maddie!
Thank you to the whole team for making my head coaching experience a memorable one. Shout out to Super Troopers Joliane, Laura Bellini, Camryn Moore, Maya Leroux and Victoria Fernandez who played the entire game, all 80 minutes.
And a final thank you to Ariela, who after the game, as only Ariela can, sweetly reassured me: “You did great, miss!”. J
- Coach Kirby