Not over yet

The team trails, late in the game. It didn’t start well, fell behind early after making mistakes on both ends.

Insert cliche. The score suggests their season is coming to an end, a less experienced opponent nearing an unlikely but deserved victory.

This describes the plight of not one but four Pink Ladies teams this weekend — the U14, U15, U18 B3 and U18 SP teams all finding themselves behind late in the game.

U14 semifinalistsThe U14 trailed 5-2 in the second half before Junior Player of the Week Gracie Sampson — having already scored twice — struck not only three more goals but fear into the hearts and minds of her opponents. As unstoppable goes, that she was. Each inch became a yard and each yard became a low, driven blast toward the second post. Although the comeback ended centimeters short in a 7-6 loss, the down-but-not-out attitude of the team was as impressive as the play of its taliswoman.

The U15 notched first and seemed in control before the opposing #6 knocked in three unanswered and took control of the match. Katie Hays eschewed the pass for the shot, making good on three to lead her team so close yet so far away, as the fuchsia females fell 6-4 in their league semifinals.

The U18 B3 took stage while the daylight savings sun set on the weekend — and possibly on Pink dreams as well. A gift across the goal that allowed the talented lower seed an early 1-0 lead seemed an unfortunate continuation of the younger teams’ difficulties. As the second half started Lili Silva leveled. Then unawares on the ensuing kickoff they gave it back. Senior Player of the Week Shira Garbis, perhaps the most locked in start-to-finish player of the entire day, leveled.
An own goal on a corner kick gave it back. Trailing 3-2 with just five minutes left Jenny Huang made the goal hers — poking in yet another of her impossible angle goals. Level. Goal of the Week.

Two minutes left and Pink surged forward in search of the winner. Eliza Boudett. Lili Silva. Goal. On to the finals.

saveThe U18 SP barged into its final regular season match needing a draw or win to earn a spot in the league finals. Early on it played hard but missing its typical confidence and composure. Setbacks on and off the pitch left it in a 4-2 hole in the second half, despair setting in for the team’s soon-to-be graduates, who might possibly not reach the finals in their final season. But rewind. The biggest reason the score remained close was the shut ’em down goalkeeping of captain Nicole Cerulli, whose sliding split butterfly Save of the Week early in the second half kept the dream alive.

There was but one hope for the sputtering team; one player who could supplant a poor performance with greatness; one player who leads all others in goals, points and moving without the ball. Fast forward. Final minutes. Clock winding down. Time running out. Season running out. Career running out. Madeline Leahy passes to captain and Senior Player of the Week Emily Rollender. Rollender cuts to her left. Unleashes her right foot like a tee shot at Augusta. The ball seems to suspend for a moment midair. Will it? Yes.

Pause. Still down one goal. Time keeps on slipping. Need one goal to advance. Two minutes. Ninety seconds. Sarge shields in front of the opposing bench. Eighty seconds. She turns, lays into the stride of the always moving E-Rol. Sole on ball, slides between two defenders, leg back, head down …


Joy and Pain

An ugly game begat a beautiful moment. Twice.

Joy and pain.