The JV Soccer Girls' Game
The bus ride to Jim Scott at 2 P.M. for the junior varsity girls was loud as usual, but something else was in the air, an anxiousness that everybody felt, but no once voiced. We were all thinking it; if we win we’ll place in league.
“I’m nervous, yeah…” said my teammate, Maria Cabrera, when I asked her how she felt, “but we’ve improved a lot since we first started.”
Maria plays sweeper and stopper, the last and the second to last person in the defensive line, respectively. If anything, she’s the one that probably knows the most about pressure, because if anything goes wrong and the other team is going for our goalie, she’s the one to stop them. I’ve seen Maria save the team from an attempted shot at the goal many times, but yet, “I’m nervous they might make a goal,” she told me.
“We might win though,” Maria said afterwards, smiling. “You never know.”
“We might tie,” says Michelle Magallanes, a forward for the girls junior varsity team. “We just have to keep our heads up and not get down.”
I look around and see Angelica Quiroz, listening to her iPod like always, staring out the window. Angelica is one of the four captains and the star forward, the one who has shot most of the goals this season. She’s also suffered quite a lot of injuries; but I guess that’s the price that comes for always giving it your best. I interrupt her concentration and ask her how she’s feeling.
“I’m very nervous, not scared though, just nervous…” she says. “I’ve been nervous this whole day.”
I ask her how her leg has been doing since she injured it during the Saddleback game a few weeks prior.
“It’s doing better,” She looks at her right leg, “still hurts a bit though.”
We arrive at Estancia and my stomach starts to churn. We all get off the bus, with the coaches leading the way to the stadium. As we near it, I can hear the music playing already and I look around at my teammates before walking through the big black gates. I see that they’re already warming up; it’s their home, so we have to go to the other side, the visitor’s side. Which is uncomfortable, since every game before this one, we were where they are now. We all put on our attire and start warming up.
Then before I know it, the referees call captains and we introduce ourselves to the Estancia captains, even though I never remember their names.
“Call it in the air,” one of the referees says to Valeria Colchado, a senior and our usual sweeper.
“Heads,” she says.
Nope, tails. They get to choose whether to kick off or pick the side they want. They pick side and we have to kick off against the sun.
“First to every ball ladies and pass to feet,” our coach, Eva, says before giving the line-up. “Just play like you did during the Laguna game and we can win this, I know we can.”
And before saying our cheer, I tell the girls one last thing, because I know they have those butterflies just like I do and their hearts our beating fast and their hands are shaking. “Don’t give up…whatever you do, don’t give up. If you start thinking negatively, stop. That’s what killed us last time.”
The referee whistles and the game starts. It’s back and forth in who has possession of the ball. They have great passing to feet that’s killing our girls, for we just keep diving and I can’t hear anything.
“Talk ladies!” Eva and I shout. Communication is key, because if they don’t start communicating, they will be quiet the rest of the game and miss out on important plays. Our other coach, Jason, arrives late, but he immediately starts yelling as well and his loud and familiar voice seems to register in the girls and they start to move quicker and talk louder. His presence wasn’t enough to stop Estancia from scoring, ten minutes into the game, their outside
wing passed our defense and made a great goal that our goalie, Itzayana Lopez, could not block.
“Come on ladies! Zero-zero! Let’s get it back!” I hear Luisa Rosas shout. She’s a senior and a captain and is playing defense right now, though this isn’t her usual spot.
“I didn’t think I was playing good,” she tells me later. “I felt like I was really slow.”
Though not even five minutes later, Angelica scores. One of our players, who’s in the middle, crossed the ball to her, where she trapped it and turned with it, their sweeper trying to stop her, but to no avail, Angelica was faster and before the goalie could come out, she shot the ball in. Even though this boosted our confidence, it also brought their game up as well and the time before half-time was called, they had been on our half a lot and their attempted goals had been too much for our liking. Too much for my liking and when half-time was called I couldn’t handle the pressure. I was mad that the player I had been marking had gotten past me, that I was the reason for them almost scoring again, I was mad that I had missed my shot where it had been only me and the goalie. I felt like crying.
“It’s been 60-40%. They’ve been on our half about 60% of the time and we’ve been on theirs only 40. It’s exactly like how it was last time, going one-one into the second half. You guys need to step it up and stop making silly mistakes,” Jason says to the girls.
I look around at them, they’re all drinking water, sweating. It was rather hot, getting tired and thirsty was easy. Everyone is unusually quiet and no one has anything to say. When we say our cheer, it’s not the way it usually is…strong.
Brenda Menes, an outside wing, is sitting next to me.
“What’s wrong with you?” I ask her.
“My foot started cramping up.” Brenda says.
She’s been injured quiet badly and all of preseason was on crutches. She was substituted out during first-half. Although they put her in again, about ten minutes later, when Estancia scores again. And again.
It’s 3-1, with about fifteen minutes left in the game. Even though in my mind, I felt like we could still tie, I know when I looked around at my teammates they weren’t thinking the same thing. Even when I tried to tell them otherwise, it was no use. And after the fourth goal, even I lost hope. That’s how the game ended. We said “good game” to the Estancia girls and took off our stuff in silence.
That was it. That was our last game. It was over just like that.
The stadium music started up again and varsity started warming up on the field. The scoreboard was re-set once again and the sun began to set. They had already warmed up prior to this and were now kicking the soccer balls. About half an hour later, captains Daniela Benitez and Cindy Mejia went up to greet the Estancia captains and the referee’s. Coach Dan Johnston calls them in before the game starts, and then leaves them alone to do their cheer.
The starting eleven take their places and the game starts. A few minutes in and Estancia scores. Even so Mesa is still talking, they’re still communicating, this isn’t going to stop them, you can tell by the way they’re playing harder now, when the ball starts to move again.
This wasn’t enough to stop Estancia from scoring again though. Their teammates are cheering them on from the sidelines.
“Come on Mesa!” They’re all yelling, as well as the people in the stands. “Let’s go girls! You can do this!”
The third goal that Estancia scored was by a corner kick and that’s how first-half ended, 3-0. Coach Dan Johnston substituted girls every ten minutes. That was the new tactic he started using this year and captains were changed from game to game.
They were all breathing heavily as they came off the field, searching for their waters, talking…smiling. They weren’t down-trodden at all, something that was really admirable. They went to go meet Dan on one side of the field. The referee called for second half and the goalies were switched. Sarah Liebel went in for Maggie Acevedo and a new line-up started.
About ten minutes into the game, Mesa had the chance to score. It started when Estancia passed it from the middle to the outside and she took it down line, but left defensive player Johanna Hernandez caught up to her, slide-tackled her from behind, got the ball and took it down line. Then she passed it to the right outside wing, Kenya Avila, who took on and passed three Estancia girls, then passed it to Darian Miller, who unfortunately lost the ball.
By the end of the game, Estancia had scored two more goals and the ending score was 5-0. When I looked at Darian, she was hugging Jackie Waldron, who had tears in her eyes. They weren’t crying, because they lost the game, they were crying because it was their last game ever. Both of them are seniors, as a number of the girls on the team are, and this was their last game playing as CMHS students.
“Don’t cry Darian! Cause you’re gonna make me cry!” Jackie tells her, while rubbing at her eyes.
Everyone is hugging each other, saying “good-bye” and congratulating each other.
“I feel like I did my best, the goals they scored, they were lucky shots. I just hope the team bonds next year and that they do great,” Maggie says, smiling.
“We did some things pretty good and some things pretty bad, but it wasn’t as bad as some other games,” said Coach Dan Johnston.
Even though Varsity hasn’t had the greatest season, they did have a great season in terms of team camaraderie. Everyone cares for one another and no one was ever put down. If that’s not a great team, I don’t know what is. As for the Junior Varsity girls, it’s okay if they didn’t place in league. They only lost three games and had a great season over all. They went hard ‘til the end. Estancia is a great team, they don’t play dirty and they’re actually really nice, because I had the chance to talk to their players. To be able to play against them is a privilege.
Soccer isn’t an easy sport, ask any player. That’s the reason why they love it.