Em's U-10 soccer team--under the same coaching staff (with Baroy as assistant coach) as last year--is 7-0-1 this year. Last year? 1-7-2.
To say that the coaches are happier with this year's team is an understatement. But I have to tell you; I'm finding this year's games so much more nervewracking. Last year, anything good that happened--from them heading in the right direction after the switch at halftime, to someone not lifting a foot during a throw-in--was met with huge cheers. There just wasn't that much to celebrate. Worrying about whether they'd win...well, it wasn't worth throwing a lot of energy in that direction.
But this year. This year, they RAWK. They are one of the tiniest collections of 8-, 9-, and 10-year-old girls I've ever seen. But they are fast, and they are strong, and they are GOOD. Their footwork is AWESOME. And they PASS to each other. They have an incredible bond; they giggle and chatter during practices, but when it's game time, they GO. (And Em, for the record, has been ALL OVER that field this year. Her strength is truly in defense; she loves playing defense, and has developed an awesome foot that can clear almost any shot that comes within her reach. She's also scored four goals this year...though three of them were in one game. I am exceptionally proud of her. And she is having an absolute, unadulterated BLAST.)
So, why nervewracking? Because the last couple of games--after a few that were embarrassingly one-sided--have been nail biters. And this year, a loss...well, it doesn't actually MEAN anything in the Big Wide World sense of meaning something. But these girls are seriously excited about what they've accomplished, and being undefeated is a huge deal to them. Today's game was a 0-0 tie until near the end of the fourth quarter, when our team finally managed to both penetrate their defense AND get a shot off. (They were doing well at the former, but having trouble with the latter...) Our sideline absolutely ERUPTED. I can't remember the last time I screamed that loudly...or the last time I ran down a row of adults, high-fiving everyone in sight. (Yes, I am a soccer mom. And yes, I'm embarrassing. But I'm not embarrassed. And, trust me. I wasn't the only one whooping it up.)
Still, I swear. The pressure that had built up until that point? All I could think was, "I need a Xanax," followed swiftly by, "Did I just think about taking a Xanax to deal with the pressures of a tied soccer game played by girls under the age of 10?" Clearly, what I really need is an antipsychotic.
Damn, soccer is fun.