Hello everyone, I apologize for not releasing the next few journals sooner, it turned out to be quite a busy end to the summer, but you will hear about all of it soon!
In Journal #4, I discussed my travel to the MASL Combine and the play, judgment, and memorable experiences that ensued. At the end, I was returning to Wichita a little disappointed and overwhelmed with emotions. A part of me thought that the combine may have been my last trip as a soccer player ever.
I was very wrong. Semi-professional soccer is interesting because things can happen with schedules, players, and injuries that you may not see at any other level. One night, while playing a game of futsal with a few of the boys at a local court, I got a message asking me to give one of the club managers a call.
When I called, he explained that they had scheduled a friendly in Oklahoma City on a Saturday when the first team had a big game in Joplin. Instead of rescheduling, two of my teammates and I were asked to travel to Oklahoma City and lead a team of academy players against the Oklahoma City IMPS.
I jumped at the chance to play a full 90 minutes, and that weekend we carpooled to Oklahoma City for the game. When we arrived in Norman (a suburb of OKC), we went on a bit of an insanely over-complicated adventure (courtesy of yours truly) trying to find the correct stadium. When we finally did we were amazed by what we saw. They play at a high school field that is kept to professional standards. The grass was cut to perfection, the goals were European style, and the locker rooms were not bad at all. We walked into the locker room and met the boys we would be playing with (many high school seniors who had never played at this level).
The academy coaches came in and basically told Levi, Billy, and I that we were going to be the leaders through the warmup and the game. I must say it was cool to go from being overlooked one week to being a captain the next, but that’s soccer for you.
All three of us stationed ourselves at the back, with Billy in the center, Levi at right-back, and me on left. The first few minutes set the tone for the first half, and we snuck an early goal to go up 1-0. They tied it 1-1 after some crafty footwork from one of their midfielders, and to be quite honest I was surprised to see that we were giving them a good game with such a young squad. A little before half time, I took the ball off of their outside midfielder in the corner of our defensive half (with a meg I might add) and took to the space in front of me with pace.
I looked up and saw the keeper way off his line. I then looked to my left toward our outside forward but decided there was a defender too close to go to him. I glanced back at the keeper as I approached half field and realized he still hadn’t moved. I then turned my eyes to pass the ball to a center midfielder but decided that there were too many defenders around him as well. Finally, I looked back at the keeper and saw him turn his back to me and start running toward the goal. That’s when I decided to go for it. I was about five yards past half field and I looked down and sent a long ball flying over the keeper and into the net to go up 2-1 before half. It was just a goal in a friendly, but a good goal is a good goal.
We went into the locker room a bit tired but excited to be playing so well. Unfortunately, the youth of our squad and the minimal minutes that Billy, Levi, and I had gotten began to show toward the end of the second half. They were able to pull a second goal about midway through the half, and they scored again in the 80th minute to go up 3-2. After that, the academy coaches decided to change our formation to a back three, and that is when everything went downhill. Everyone was exhausted, and the academy players seemed to see the formation change as a reason to attack and not worry about defending. This left the defending to me, Billy, and Levi. They probably hit us with 10 waves of attack in 10 minutes, each one harder than the last. They attacked with six and we had three. The numbers did not add up, and we literally gave up three goals in ten minutes and lost 6-2.
The scoreline did not show the amazing effort the academy boys gave, and I think the future of the club looks promising. I was a bit disappointed my goal didn’t end up being the winner, but that’s life I guess. After the game we watched a bit of my fiancé’s game (FC Wichita’s Women’s team), learned that the first team had won in Joplin to clinch the regular season conference title, and then went to downtown Norman to get a bite to eat. The trip home went quickly, and I definitely made a couple great friends on the journey.
For more information on FC Wichita, visit www.fcwichita.com
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