I am dehydrated and sunburned. I have been soaking in the melanoma-inducing rays of the sun since 9am, and it’s almost 6pm, but alas I am at my kitchen table drinking a pepsi and reflecting on the day. It has been long, and fairly successful, if a 4-2 record and pissing away a two goal second half lead in the final to be runner up meets your definition of success.
A little background, Bryson played, not me. This should produce little surprise. 3 v. 3 is an open game on a small field. No goalie. Goals can only be scored from the attacking half of the field. The game. like most sports, generally favors technical superiority and quick decision-making. During the most recent transfer window, Bryson moved to FC America. 3 v 3 in Apopka was an opportunity to play with his new mates, who were divided into three teams. Camp was set up center pitch beneath a row of tents. Food and drink were plentiful.
All three teams opened with games at 10:30 am. We played U-14, and age group up. Our first opponent was on average 5 inches taller, 20 lbs heavier and collectively a bit faster. We were technicall superior and invoked the mercy rule at 12-0 early in the second half. Our other two teams posted 12-1 and 7-1 victories, and the mood in camp was giddy.
That changed after our second round game. We played another taller, heavier and faster team, but our technical disparity was not the same. We trailed 4-0 at half, and looked as lively as Princess Diana. Mikey Lynch picked things up for us in the second half scoring two goals and picking up a yellow card that almost turned red. For a few minutes, a full comeback seemed possible, but we conceded two counter attack goals and got back to camp 6-2 losers. Our Lions team lost 5-3 as well, and despite the firing of the grill and my personal four hot dog orgy, our mood was notably somber.
We got back in the business of ass-kicking in the final group game with another 12-0 mercy rule. Our other teams won comfortably as well. The Sharpshooters entered the play-offs 3-0. The Sharks (Bryson’s team) and the Lions 2-1.
The draw favored the Sharpshooters, who rematched with a team they had already beaten. We drew a fresh team, and the Lions drew the team that already beaten them. The Sharpshooters rolled. We won 4-0. It was a decent display two early goals, but we did a poor job of managing the game from that point playing a little too direct, and things were not decided until a pair of late goals. Right after our game, I saw the last minutes of the Lion’s game. On my arrival, they conceded an equalizer, and then three other goals. I moved back to camp quickly and quietly to avoid being identified as a bad luck charm.
We drew the Sharpshooters in the semi-final. During the break I downed a fifth hot dog and was struck in the head by a tent post kicked up by a gust of wind. I did not lose consciousness and maintained a Glascow Coma Scale of 15 through the whole episode. I am not sure our team was not effected by a mild closed head injury as they started the game with a GCS in the range of 7 falling behind 4-1. Enter Mikey Lynch again. He picked up his intensity scored three straight goals during a six unanswered goal spree that put us in front 7-4. The game finished 7-5, and we were off to the final.
This game was a rematch of our loss, but played on much different terms. We jumped to an early 1-0 lead, and added a second early in the second half. Victory was ours……..until we gave up a disputed goal when it was ruled we played a ball in the defensive box (not allowed). We followed with two soft turnovers, lost the lead and ultimately the game 4-2. We did not lose to a bad team by any means, but it is extremely difficult to accept defeat when you have the lead late in a game.
In what will likely be the foundation of another post…..special teams win games they are supposed to win, and give themselves a chance to win toss up games. Special teams also don’t lose leads late in a game. There is a mentality and focus that comes to bear in these times that squeezes the life from a trailing opponent conceding visions of desperation and not hope let alone belief that they might actually comeback.