This past weekend my Dixie Girls U12 team, the Rainbow Nerds, first defeated a San Anselmo team 2-0 on the speedy artificial turf of the Red Hill Park on Saturday. Then back at home at Vallecito Elementary on Sunday we squeaked past a Ross Valley team 1-0. Since an opening season 4-1 loss to another Ross Valley team the Rainbow Nerds have not lost a game, and in that span they only have given up one goal that deflected off my daughter Skylee’s foot. That’s five straight games and nobody’s been good enough to score off our team except us!
There is no question that the difference in our games has been Elizabeth, aka La Máquina who scored all three of our goals this weekend. It takes a team to win a game though, and our defense has really shined brightly. Our coaching staff can also take an assist, as this past week I called in one of the parents who had been sitting on the sidelines with six years of coaching experience, and he was able to help us work on skills. At my request JP Verhees who is overseeing the DYSA program and its coaches this year also came in and gave us some helpful drills which we worked on. Lastly in practices and prior to the Red Hill Park game we mentally prepared the players for the faster game on artificial turf where the balls
seemed like they were moving on ice compared to our long, natural gopher infested grass at home.
The Sunday game was pretty rough and it’s got me talking again to the players about how to avoid contact in games. Sophie was in position to score her second goal of the season when it looked to me and felt to her like she was pushed from behind by a player in hot pursuit. Sophie went down hard, play was stopped as she lay on the ground and no foul was called. All season I’ve been preaching to players about avoiding contact and potential injury but there was nothing Sophie could do in that situation.
Both the other coach and I had issues with the physical level of the game: I’d rather lose every game than see one of my kids get hurt. I brought the game to the attention of the league and we will probably see games called much more tightly in the coming weeks to hopefully keep the players in check.
Tough as nails Gabriella, don’t call her Gabby, came back from a family vacation after missing two games and in the second half of Saturday’s game she was kicked in the head while playing goalie. The same thing happened to her in the game before she left for vacation, because she dives on the ball when other players are in the immediate vicinity. We’ve told her not to do that, but in the heat of a game her competitive instinct kicks in and puts her in harm’s way. After talking with her mom on Sunday we decided she won’t play goalie anymore unless she is willing to wear headgear, which she is not. That’s fine because she is a great offensive and defensive asset on the field with possibly some of the best ball handling skills on our team.
Soccer is not as safe of a sport as I had imagined or hoped. My daughters have been playing for years and they’ve avoided serious injury but it could happen anytime. Skylee came home from Saturday’s game with a ‘tattoo’ of ball lines on her thigh from blocking a shot, a tattoo which stayed on her through the weekend. The ball ricocheted off her thigh and traveled half way up the field where La Máquina received it and dribbled past the other team’s defenders for a score.
Having grown up playing football through my freshman year at Redwood and then rugby as a senior I never considered soccer a contact sport. I do now.