Sunday, February 08, 2009

Raindrops and Tears

It’s been a wet weekend. Yes, it rains in the desert. Temperatures drop below freezing, trees shed their leaves, and on days like today, snowmen wave from the back of pickup trucks.

Valley dwellers love to take the meandering upward climb to the nearest mountain summit and shovel the white stuff into their vehicles for reasons I have yet to determine. Perhaps it’s because native Tucsonans who haven’t experienced a Midwestern or East Coast childhood, think snow is nothing more than a quaint material for constructing icy men with charcoal eyes and mesquite stick arms.


We spent the weekend in Phoenix for the Desert Classic soccer tournament. This morning for the semi-final game, it didn’t get past 50° and if you didn’t have a raincoat, umbrella and a good pair of waterproof shoes, it wasn’t fun. I had all of the above, except the shoes. I had on my running shoes, which thanks to some innovative technology, have air holes in the soles. My feet were soaked after the first minute I stepped onto the grass. One of MY teammates, however, a soccer dad, loaned me his shoes. Thanks to Robert, I was set.

Unfortunately, I can’t call what I witnessed from the sidelines today “fun.”

With the exception of about one minute of sheer joy, when our girls went up 2-1, this was one of the most grueling soccer games I’ve ever seen. And I’ve got a resume of being a soccer parent that’s nine years long. Sparing disinterested parties the details, let me relate that our girls played their hearts out in the cold rain and were, in my opinion, the stronger team on the field. Their opponents managed to bring the score to 2-2 and in the waning minutes, we believed it would end in a tie and come down to a shoot-out. That was until what had to be the WORST call by a referee I’ve ever seen.

Our goal-keeper, a talented loaner player from Colorado named Gracie, came out of the net to go after a ball just off the foot of a threatening striker. The ball went out of bounds off the keeper, both girls fell and the whistle blew. The call was a FOUL on Gracie, when she was clearly going after the ball. This resulted in a PK (Penalty Kick), which is extremely difficult to defend. So, BOOM! The striker succeeds, the score becomes 3-2, the whistle blows three times, and there’s no advance to the finals for our team.


I wanted to cry but didn’t. I'm sure the tears would have fallen like raindrops if they had won, but there’s simply nothing anyone can do about a bad call. There’s no instant replay, no referee making the announcement: “After further review . . .” Nothing but a loss and a drive home in the rain. At the least it was questionable, and at the most it was a game-deciding call. 

That said, in all my years of watching soccer I’ve never seen a unanimous protest by every parent on the sidelines shouting disagreement with this call. This time even the usually quiet ones were up in arms. It was simply unbelievable.

When I picked up the player cards from the tournament tent my husband accompanied me, and I was nervous he might GO OFF on this Rock-em/Sock-em Robot of a referee. (Honestly, the whistle-blower in question was about 6-foot 5 and had a box-shaped head). And he nearly did, until he heard Mr. Crew Cut speaking German, and decided there’d be a communication gap. Clearly there was some kind of gap—a gap that had no clue about the magnificent impact of his unfortunate judgment. 

If any team in the history of teams could have used the morale boost of a trip to the finals, it was the ’95 Nike Rush Girls. But true to their incredible team spirit and camaraderie, they brushed it off and held their heads high. They knew they had played well. 

We parents knew it too; however, it probably took us a lot longer to get over it. Being soaked on the sidelines is far more miserable than being soaked on the playing field. Especially when your feet are wet.


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1 comment:

berkso said...

Nice recap of your day and game. Had the same call a few weeks ago against our team too and we ended up losing 3-2. The parents were more upset then the kids. Stay dry as there is more rain in sight.