Yesterday was a good game of soccer. Not that I, as an individual, played that great a game, as I let in three. But we were fairly matched with our opponents and stuck to the style of play that has served us well.
As individuals we may not look all that stellar. Which is not to say we don't have our stars, because we do. No, what sets us apart is our consistent play as a team, regardless of whether we're winning or taking an ass-kicking. I think it might have a lot to do with our fall season last year, where we never knew if we'd have enough players for substitutes or enough ladies to take the field. We grew accustomed to fighting hard for everything, while simultaneously recognizing that we were there to have fun and enjoy the game of soccer. To do otherwise would have driven us crazy. We rarely had cause to complain at the refs, knowing they were there, doing the same as us; making do, doing their best, and showing up.
We won best sportsmanship nods for our play last fall. We didn't win much else that season. We didn't like that aspect, but dealt with it and came back stronger. This year we've done much better, with more players making it more frequently. The lessons learned last year made us stronger, more willing to trust one another and just play through. We have continued in sportsmanship, avoiding the whining and cry-baby antics that do no one any service and generally detract from the game.
It's been reflected in our record this year: winning all our regular season games so far.
Wow, listen to all the happy, sappy, horseshit I'm spewing! I often post negative observations about the opposition here, and this post won't be an exception. I just wanted to start off with my thoughts on why we've done better this year.
Last year, when we played the same team from yesterday, there was quite a kerfuffle, with a player from each team being thrown off. Our player publicly resolved to avoid such an event this year, regardless of provocation.
As with many teams we've played, there seemed a few players who just don't want to subscribe to the idea that it's just a recreation league game, and not that fucking important. These players become increasingly puckish the more their teams get behind usually by becoming more strident in their complaints, etc, rather than playing better.
This year, our team played our game, and Hypercompetitive was far less mouthy with us than last season. However, several others on that team's defense did make quite a bit of noise at the refs and, as the game progressed, even each other. Their keeper, who volunteered to play for any team in need of a keeper, was yelled at by his own team mates regarding his play on at least three separate occasions.
I did not recognize one of our refs, and believe she was new. At one of the breaks I heard from our players that the young ref had made a few poor calls, but nothing to write home about. At the end of the half, as I was making the lonely walk to my goal, the refs were conferring (there's shade behind it). The younger one was upset and trying to manage it while the older reassured her.
"Thanks, refs," I said.
"Lot of grumbling going on," one of them said.
I stopped short, "Not from us, I hope. We kinda pride ourselves on taking our lumps in silence."
"No, not you. Thanks, though," the ref said as they started to take the field.
"No, it isn't you guys. Not at all. Thanks."
Twenty minutes later, their captain was thrown off for arguing with the senior ref over one of his calls.
As this is my damn blog, I'll reveal a deeply-held opinion here: Arguing with a ref is the single most counter-productive thing a player can ever choose to do, both for themselves and their team. It's stupid, wins you no games, and can fuck the rest of your team sideways as it focuses the ref's attention on you, your team, and any and all bullshit you might be pulling.
This is not say that Refs aren't making poor–or missing entirely–calls. But the refs are there to ensure fair play, not actually play the damn game. Dealing with them is like dealing with the weather: sometimes it's the shits, but more often than not, shouldn't have anything to do with how the game is actually played.
And no matter what, complaining or, heaven forbid, arguing with a ref during a match is like screaming at the sun to cool off. It ain't gonna happen, and there's no use in getting one's shorts in a bunch because it makes you hot. Doing otherwise gets you saddled with a reputation for tilting at windmills.
Oh, and not only did we win 6-3, we were ahead the whole game.