A strangely busy yet boring fall break weekend.

L had a soccer tournament to wrap up her season. This came after not playing for two weeks and, unfortunately, it really showed. The girls, and L especially, were just not on their game.

Friday we played our opening game at 7:45 under the lights. The windchill was in the upper 30s, there was a stiff northerly breeze, and it was raining steadily. All-in-all a miserable night to do anything outside. We were playing a team we beat 2–1 in the regular season. Surprise, surprise, we got another, nervy, 2–1 win. We played our second round robin game Saturday against a team that beat us 8–1 to begin the season. We hung in for the first half and went into the break down just 1–0 on a freaky goal that went off our defender, off our goalie’s hands, and then off her foot into the goal. We melted down in the second half and lost 5–0.

Still, we made it through to the semis and took on a team we tied 3–3 during the regular season. We played really well for the first 25 minutes, mostly controlling the game. L had our only decent scoring chance and put it off the post. But right before half time we fell apart again, the last five minutes being played deep in our defensive end. The second half was the same: we could not get possession and were constantly scrambling in the back to clean things up. Our defense finally paid for being out of position and we let one through midway through the half. We never got a decent scoring chance after that and our season ended with a 1–0 loss.

L just had nothing all weekend. I don’t know if it was the weather – Saturday was cool and the field was still sloppy; Sunday it was warmer but very windy – if she wasn’t feeling well, if the two weeks off ruined her soccer stamina, or if she had just checked out mentally. Whatever it was, these were probably the three worst games she’s ever played. She just showed no energy, shied away from going after the ball, wouldn’t make runs when we had the ball, and basically played extremely out of character for her.

As a coaching parent, it was very frustrating. I let her have it a few times Sunday when she would just stand and watch where she used to get in the middle of the action and make things happen. Afterward I had to remind myself that we played three good defensive teams this weekend – she had scored just one goal against them in three regular season games – and all three were older teams. For playing most of the season against girls two years older than her, she still had a really good season. I think it was her lowest goal-scoring season ever, but she still had 9 or 10 in 10 games. Most importantly, I think she understands the areas she needs to get better in if she wants to keep playing. She needs to learn how control the ball better. How to do more than just do a series of fakes and step-backs when a defender cuts her off. How to pass the ball to others when the defense keys on her. Rather than play a winter sport, she’s most likely going to do some individual training with a local high school coach. I expect between that, and maybe a growth spurt that helps her compete against bigger girls, she’ll be just fine the next time she plays in a league.[1]

I was secretly relieved we lost in the semis. If we had advanced we would have played the team that smoked us Saturday again, and their coach is an annoying tool. Plus right around the time of the championship game we had wind gusts over 50 MPH, so that would not have been fun.

Oh, and we had a basketball game yesterday, too, which would have made playing soccer again rough.

L looked just fine at basketball, at least in the first half. She scored four, ran the floor well, played decent D. In the second half she looked pretty gassed, though, and kept losing the ball when she brought it up against pressure. They won – almost blowing a big lead but hanging on late – and are now 5–1 with one game to play before the tournament begins.

Whew. No surprise that she was pretty tired and sore last night.

M cheered for the final time yesterday. Our 7th/8th grade football team lost 7–6 in the City semis. She was bummed she’s done with cheer. She really enjoyed it, although I think it was mostly the hanging out with her friends that she liked more than the cheering part. She’s made some comments about wanting to cheer in high school. We’ve pointed out that in HS you need to have tumbling/gymnastics experience, which she has zero of. So we’ll see where that goes. I think the majority of her St. P’s friends that go to high school with her will likely not cheer either.

Speaking of high school, we got the final pieces of paperwork in for her application last week. Now we wait about three weeks before we hear. Her shadow day is tomorrow.

OK, onto other stuff from the weekend.

Hey, KU won a Big 12 football game! We’re tied for last place with the tie breaker over TCU! If the season ended today, we would be 9th! I was not able to watch the game between soccer, a visitor stopping by, and then a family party that took us away from home. I was following along online and via text updates from friends.[2] I think I’m glad I wasn’t able to see the final moments of the game. It would have been sooooooo KU football to leave a second on the clock then mess up the squib kick and give TCU a chance to kick a winning field goal. In fact, I’m shocked that didn’t actually happen. But, hey, KU has three wins this year. They really should have four if not for the mysterious absence of Pooka Williams week one. That won’t be enough to save David Beaty’s job, but at least you can argue there’s been progress. The big question is what is he leaving behind. If he is fired, how many non-seniors will decide to leave? He kind of messed up recruiting so he/the next coach will have very few scholarships to give out for next year, so it’s imperative that the program hang onto as many of the young guys as possible. Do that and you can start to squint hard enough to believe a good coaching hire this winter and a good recruiting class next year means mediocrity isn’t too far in the future. Ah, mediocrity! How I’ve missed you!

Five game World Series are strange beasts. A team winning 4–1 makes it seems like it was a boring series. The Royals-Mets series in 2015 proved that wrong, with two extra-inning games and a third that had a lead change in the 8th inning. I think this year’s will go down as fairly boring, although games three and four were the exceptions to that.

No, I did not stay up for all 18 innings of game three. Hell, I went to bed at the end of the 9th. Although, strangely, I could not sleep and kept waking up. After I saw the score Saturday morning, I was convinced my body knew there was an epic game going on in LA and wanted me to go downstairs and turn the TV back on. Game four was thoroughly enjoyable to a non-partisan fan. Dodger Stadium was coming unglued after Yasiel Puig’s home run in the 6th that put LA up by four. But, man, these Red Sox are relentless, and once they got that first run back, you knew the game, and the series, was over. The 9–5 final made it look like another blow out. But those last four innings were fun to watch.

I was really hoping for a seven game series, and not just to stretch the end of the season. I wanted to see how Alex Cora managed his pitching staff over seven games. I loved the way he mixed and matched all series to get his best arms on the mound in any situation. But I wondered if they could keep that up if the series had returned to Boston. David Price was simply amazing last night, and all series for that matter. I’m not a huge fan of his; he often seems like a joyless, bitter human being. But that performance last night was fantastic.

  1. She’s making noises about taking the spring season off from competitive soccer and playing CYO soccer. I’ve tried to tell her CYO soccer is kind of a disaster, but she really wants to play with a couple friends who aren’t skilled enough to play in her league anymore. We’ll see…  ↩
  2. The ESPN app feed glitched in the fourth quarter for about five minutes. It would update down and distance but not the clock. People were texting me that there were 30 seconds left but the app still said 6:00+. I have a friend who was following the game from Spain and she said it did the same thing to her. I think the app couldn’t believe KU was about to pull off the W.  ↩