October 30, 1997

The soccer game last night was very fun, and rather painful.

We only had two women, so could only play six of the seven men, to have eight people on at any time, but it was kinda good in that the guys had a substitute, and could rotate out when they got winded. It's likely what kept us doing well. The other team started with 14 people, i.e. three substitutes, so were very friendly and very nice for the first half.

I believe we scored one goal in the first half. And two in the second, but I'm not sure... though I do know that all our goals were the result of a few good passes and the fact that their defense hadn't marked our folks very closely. Mostly just sending one person back to deal with our fastest and then everyone else kinda gradually catching up as they spent most of the time in our half of the field, on attack.

Since they had three extra people on the field all the time, they were always able to flood whichever side of the field they were attacking on, so I felt completely incompitent because no matter who I went to, they'd have two other people to pass to. But it worked anyway, becuase if I could just hold up the person with the ball for just a few seconds, then other folks on my team would get back and get the other people. Often, if I just held back and kept the *side* closed, Yura would close in on the person with the ball, and I'd steal the passes. When they had to pass it would at least give us *some* chance at the ball.

The whole game, on defense, was a hard scramble to get to the ball, get it out of there, pass it up or just clear it out for a rest. Luckily, the field had several deep slopes away on the side we had for the second half, so when people were really exhausted, we'd just kick it hard off that edge of the field, and they'd have to chase the ball for about five minutes before they could get it. So we'd have a chance to rest, and the ref was running off the time while they got it. So it helped a lot once we were ahead.

Problem was, though, that the other team started getting pretty nasty once they were behind *and* had more people than we did. It was kinda sad. Though most of them were pretty good, still, and several of their guys were good about passing to the girls, so it was always dangerous when they had three or four people coming down on me becaues I didn't really know who they'd pass to. There were two guys on their team that were whiners and didn't pass, so they made my life a little easier. Especially when they started screaming at the ref everytime I cleanly took the ball away from them. That was kinda keen.

In many ways, the ref is part of the field. What they do or say, no matter if one thinks it's fair or not, is how you play. And when the other team starts yelling at the ref, usually the ref starts calling things more your way, when the ref is human. This ref was human, and we started getting call after call. I wouldn't be surprised if some of it was that they were rushing two or three guys on little ole me, when I had no support and no backup, so I didn't get any fouls called on me even when I was throwing my body into a play after the other person rather than just the ball. One of them got their big, fast shooter to miss completely, so I didn't mind that much. I could be dangerous to myself if I played that way a lot, though.

My right thigh's pretty black and blue, now. As is the inside of my left knee. I guess that's the problem of interposing ones body when some guy winds up to kick the ball.

But we won, in the end. The last ten mintues were just *frantic* with activity as they flooded even more people up, and defending against three was just what I got used to. It was kinda like one of those soccer practice drills gone Halloween, as it just happened over and over and over and I knew that if I didn't get the ball, they'd be taking a shot on goal for real. Nice thing is that tall Eric and Greg, or Yura or short Eric would be there to back me up if I did manage to at least mess up the point man for a while.

Bend, don't break, is what John always called it.

At the end of the game I just sat on the bench for a long, long time, getting my breath back, and Yura, once again, complimented me on my play. That was very, very nice to have.

© 1997 by Liralen Li

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