Staying A Head Of The Game

Staying A Head Of The Game

It was a warm Saturday in early November and the soccer match between the Red Ravens and the Blue Bombers was about to start. Both teams had worked hard to get the championship game for the under 10 girls AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) division for their Southern California region. The Red Ravens had managed to win all but one of their games behind a strong defense that was able to quickly turn a stop into a fast break which had them leading the league in goals scored. Most of the Red Ravens’ games were blowouts with one game ending 12-2. Conversely, the Blue Bombers had a good record at 7-3 but most of their games were decided by a single goal with their biggest win being a 3-1 game against the league’s only team that didn’t win a game.

The game started out slow with both teams volleying the ball back and forth. The Blue Bombers appeared to be playing a defense heavy scheme while the Red Ravens had a more even attack. About mid-way through the first half the Blue Bombers had a three on two breakaway which was quickly broken up by the Red Ravens strongest defender a spunky little girl named Eden. She quickly took the ball from the Bombers’ forward and took a few dribbles before clearing the ball over the midfield creating a breakaway for the league’s top scorer – Emily – who had a one-on-one between her and the goalkeeper. Emily wound up and kicked the ball into the upper left corner of the goal and the crowd went wild. Eden’s mom was waiving her big head cutout of Eden while Emily’s parents were bobbing up and down with their big head on a stick both had gotten as a part of a special discount offered by Build a Head to families and friends of AYSO participants.

After the goal, the Bombers were deflated. They tried their best, but you could visibly see their spirits drop and the girls struggling to get through the rest of the half. After a few close calls from the Ravens’ strong attack, the ref blew the whistle signaling it was half-time. At half-time, the Bombers’ coach – Matt – looked at each girl and told them how proud he was of each of them and how hard they had worked all season. He told them how much he believed in them and how he wanted them to go finish the rest of the game by giving their best effort. Coach Matt’s speech had helped. The Bombers took the kickoff, made a few quick passes, dribbled toward the goal, and blasted a strong kick into the back of the net. 

The rest of the game, the Bombers turned back into the strong defensive minded team they had been for the entire season. They actually gave up on even running an offense and began to push for a draw in hopes of taking the game into a shootout.

As the clock was winding down the Ravens’ coach – James – realized that if he wanted to secure a victory he was going to have to do something extreme. Coach James quickly yelled to his defense and his goalkeeper to move up the field on to offense.  The Ravens passed the ball around the outside looking for even the smallest crack in the Bombers’ defense. Unable to find one, Eden blasted the ball toward the goal. The shoot was strong but a defender stuck her foot out and the ball deflected to the outer edge of the field. The parents of the Red Ravens all loudly chanted “Red Ravens! Red Ravens” while waiving the face cut out of each of their kids. The Ravens’ goalkeeper sprinted to the ball, wound up and lobbed the ball right back toward the net with the Bombers’ keeper jumping to block it only to miss as the ball slipped past her outreached hands and landed inside the net. As the ref signaled goal he also signaled time expiring and the Red Ravens elatedly celebrated their championship victory.

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