Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, September 9, 2006 5:27 pm

Tigers 1, Pink Panthers 8

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 5:27 pm

Ouch.

Unlike a lot of team’s in Victoria’s league, the Tigers have no real stars. What they do have, and what has enabled them to beat better teams quite often, is a level of teamwork that most other teams in the league don’t approach. They have become able to anticipate one another’s passes and breaks, as well as those of their opponents.

Problem is, every offseason they forget almost everything they’ve learned. And so it was in today’s fall season opener, in which they played the Pink Panthers, pretty consistently the league’s best team. In addition to a couple of true stars, the PPs are, player for player, at least one step quicker than the Tigers at every position. Even when they’ve been playing at their best, the Tigers haven’t done well against them. And because this was a season opener, the Tigers definitely weren’t at their best today.
They gave up four quick goals in the first quarter, primarily because no one on defense was going to the ball. On offense, instead of breaking open for passes, they clustered around the ball. Victoria played right forward in the second quarter, and it was uncanny how often she would make a blind pass when the teammate who would have been right there to receive it last spring was, this time, about three inches off her left heel.

V’s friend Ally, new to the team but a friend since they were 1 (they share a birthday and spent five years together in day care), did well in goal in the third quarter. She gave up one goal, but this was the first time she’d ever played organized soccer, let alone kept goal, and she got no specific instructions beforehand. Under those circumstances, I thought she played outstandingly.

V. played defense the entire second half, and the level of guts she had to display to do so was astonishing. Ragweed has hit her very hard despite all her medications — she was up twice during the night breathing steam in our bathroom so that she could stop coughing long enough to sleep — and yet she gutted it out, playing excellent defense. The Tigers gave up only two goals in the second half, both times when the keeper got caught out of position. V. even took a kick to the head that brought tears briefly to her eyes, waved her hand to come out of the game, then thought better of it and stayed in. She was hacking like a vomiting dog at the end of the game, but you would never have known it to watch her challenge the Pink Panthers’ forwards and send the ball booming back toward their goal.

And toward the end of the game, tired as they were from the heat and the humidity and the wider field that the under-9s play on, the Tigers started to get their teamwork back. I suspect they’re going to do much better next week.

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2 Comments

  1. Lex – this throws unexpected light on some profound cultural differences between us. I’d often wondered why soccer & rugger have never taken off in any meaningful way in the States & I think you’ve pointed out why. They’re both essentially team games – individual brilliancies count for much, but the backbone of long-term success is a team that works well together. You guys, being citizens of a state that guarantees the individual’s right to happiness, value & promote individual brilliance much more highly then we do. That’s great for baseball, basketball, etc (OK, gridiron falls foul of this rule, but that’s basically chess with living breathing 20-stone pieces). It’s also great for golf, so long as it’s not a team game (look at how Europe always outdoes US in the first two days of the Ryder Cup then is comprehensively beaten in the final-day singles). One of the overlooked effects of the Americanisation of British society is that our naitonal game, having taken on a business model derived from American networks’ support of sports, has produced a generation of ‘star’ socccer players who are lavishly rewarded, yet repeatedly fail miserably when brought together in the national team. OK, I’m generalising here, but . . .

    Comment by Nick — Monday, September 11, 2006 6:45 am @ 6:45 am

  2. I think there’s something to this, Nick, although I would point out the huge stylistic differences between the college and pro men’s basketball games. College, even at the highest levels, is still much more a team game; the pro game, OTOH, is much more one guy backing in toward the basket, then turning and shooting while everyone else stands around.

    And better than both is women’s college ball, which, at its best, is an absolute joy to watch. The women’s Atlantic Coast Conference tourney is held in Greensboro most years; this is a conference that has produced several national champion contenders in the past 15 years. I’ve taken Victoria the past four years running. She has enjoyed it a great deal, but not as much as I have.

    Comment by Lex — Thursday, September 14, 2006 5:19 pm @ 5:19 pm


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