The Viking Girls Soccer team spent the last games of the regular season drawing in the rain and snow.
An early morning Saturday wake-up was rewarded with a long drive to ASIJ for three back-to-back games in the freezing rain and snow. The first match was our “local derby” against TIS and brought back memories of last year’s tournament win on PK’s. The Vikings were out on the pitch to warm-up before any other teams had even arrived. A level of traditional derby spirit was added by the boy’s basketball team, who stood in the cold to sing and chant in support of their Viking sisters! Adinnah and Maya immediately put in a series of crossfield runs, demonstrating lessons the team had worked on during the week, to give options for the defense to distribute. Adinnah and Kiyomi, typically solid in defense, inspired with several forward runs to get the ball upfield. Mika, Ema, and Akari were all very threatening in attack and came close to goals on several occasions. Anna demonstrated the Viking spirit by diving to the cold-hard turf with no fear, and making a series of important saves during the match. Despite the cold, Miren was all over the pitch and added another goal to her season tally with a long-range effort. As the minutes were winding down, the Vikings found themselves behind by a goal and needed a bit of magic. Step up Yukie, who dribbled forward, took a long-range shot with her left foot that skidded across the frozen turf and nestled in the far corner of the goal. The match would end level at 2-2, a draw in the snow with no PKs to decide it during the regular season.
Next up were two trying matches against the powerful teams of our hostesses. The Vikings started extremely strong to give the ASIJ B team an indication that we were not going to freeze! During the first portion of the match, Lynette, May, and Tsugumi all showed their growing soccer skills as they won several balls and moved upfield with confidence. Adinnah, Akari, and Ema worked together extremely well and provided an early threat on the ASIJ goal. Anna debuted a threatening new trick, rolling the ball to herself and dribbling upfield! Despite our inspiring efforts in the dispiriting weather, the score steadily became a bit one-sided in favor of the hostesses who kindly agreed that all of our girls (A&B) could take a run on the pitch to keep warm. It was between these two games that the Vikings showed their true spirit. As the temperature dropped and the snow increased, the officials posed the question to NIS whether the A team match should be played. Standing on tired legs and soaked to the bone, there was not a single girl on the Viking squad who hesitated...YES, of course, we want to play! Coach Kendra suggested the girls take charge of their own positions and substitutions, and the resulting lift in spirit ensured the girls left the pitch smiling despite a heavy loss. No score to report in either ASIJ match, but our goal was achieved...three great games of soccer for the Viking Girls!
A steady drizzle on the following Thursday afternoon would not keep the Vikings off the pitch. We boarded the Oedo line to avoid traffic and arrived at a small outdoor field with its own set of ever-emerging house rules. Despite having to quickly adjust the game plan to a 6v6 setup, the Vikings were ready to play! Our 6th-grade attackers worked together so well at Monday’s practice, it was an easy choice for Coach Creston to start Ema and Rihanna upfront. They immediately impressed, with several threatening runs against girls clearly their senior. We kept a theme of rotating pairs of strikers throughout the match, with Vict-kari (Victoria and Akari) and Mik-dinnah (Mika and Adinnah) showing threatening teamwork. Kiyomi and Kemi provided excellent defensive cover for Anna, who was forced to abandon her punts and test many new ways to distribute the ball upfield. Perhaps it was the effectiveness of Anna’s dribbling and throws, coupled with Miren and Yukie’s long goal-kicks, which resulted in two additional rules being introduced by the refereeing team at halftime. Neither these rules nor a 2 goal lead from K School would dim the season highlight about to come. A threatening pass from our midfield found Tsugumi dashing to the back post, and arriving at the perfect time to apply a confident strike for her first goal in a Viking shirt. As the girls were wildly celebrating, K school took a kick-off and bundled the ball through Yukie and Anna for what appeared to be the third goal. Enter the mouth of Creswell, this time the younger, for a chat with the referees. Miren made the case that no whistle had been blown to restart play and the goal was overturned. Minutes later, the referees would combine with Miren once again. A late freekick was awarded at half-field, and Miren arrowed the deadball off the underside of the crossbar for the second time this season. 2-2, a draw in the rain, and smiles on the train ride home for the Viking girls.
The girls' efforts have resulted in a 7th place finish, which is an improvement of two spots over last year. The annual Championship tournament takes place this Saturday at ASIJ. Sun is in the forecast, so why not come and support the team with a few songs from the sideline!