All of last week, I could feel that “Big Game” atmosphere. You could sense it in the players and the coaches, in our film sessions and in practice. They seemed loose, but at the same time, serious. They all knew how important Saturday’s game would be. An opportunity to win the ECC regular season and thus, host the playoffs. And a chance to defeat another team that has been a nemesis in recent years. While I liked how we were preparing, I could not say that we were particularly sharp in our execution. I tried to stay busy during the week, to help pass the time and relieve the anticipation.
Finally it was Friday and time to travel to Roberts Wesleyan in Rochester, where we would practice that afternoon and of course, take on the Red Hawks at noon, on Saturday. The weather was beautiful and our bus ride could not have gone much smoother, with only minimal traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway and some Construction on Interstate 380, in Pennsylvania. The bus was filled with good vibes and I was grateful for the journey.
It was about 80 degrees outside, when we arrived at RWU, for practice. The team seemed to be very happy to be out there, and I thought our practice was spirited and pretty crisp. It was a great way for them to shake off the effects of the long trip and put the finishing touches on a week of preparation.
After practice, we went to our hotel and I connected with Diana and made plans to have dinner with her and Jon. It was, as always, great to see them! And this time, after dinner, I got to see their house, for the first time! I loved everything about it. They have already done a good amount of work on the inside of the house and the property doesn’t need much work, and the yard is nice and big. I really could not have been happier for them! Of course, our visit was too short, but I felt so fortunate to have gotten to see them and spend a few hours together.
Saturday morning, I got a decent workout in and downed the hotel breakfast. I got cleaned up, packed up and then, it was back on the bus for the short ride to RWU!
The team appeared serious but confident just prior to game time. We began the game well, by scoring the first two goals, but RW responded and it would be a back and forth affair, for the rest of the game. While, I felt we were in control throughout most of the game, we never led by more than 2 goals, and the game was tied on ten separate occasions. As the clock winded down in regulation time, the Red Hawks were able to tie the game for a final time, sending it into Over Time. It ended up taking three Over Time Periods, for RWU to finally score and win the epic battle, 13 – 12! While I didn’t think we played our best, I was proud of how we competed.
Statistically, we outperformed them in almost every category. But ultimately, there is only one statistic that matters – the final score. So it was a somber bus ride home (at least for the first couple of hours). I rehashed the game over and over in my head, trying to come up with something we could have done or said, differently, that may have changed the end result. So, instead of winning the ECC outright, we will now have to wait until this Saturday, when Conference play concludes, to see how a likely, three way tie, will be broken.
I am hoping that our team realizes a couple of things. As devastating, as this loss may have been, we have to find a way to learn from it and put it behind us, because as big as this game was, with the playoffs approaching, we still have bigger games ahead of us. We have already accomplished a lot, this season, but we cannot be satisfied, because there is SO MUCH more, that we can accomplish.
GO LIONS! ALL GAS, NO BRAKES!