We had won our 3rd and final group stage match, and now it was off to the finals. I thought that we actually breezed through our previous matches and that we had a lot of momentum going into the finals. We had won all three games, and we were going to play the winner of the Barca Junior Academy from Long Island versus Juventus Junior Academy from somewhere in New Jersey. Even though we had done really well in our previous matches, it still had been a hard-fought road to the finals, but hopefully it was all going to pay off in the end.
At the end of the Barca game, Barca had won. Me and my family were in New Jersey. It was a Memorial Day tournament and my team and I had made the finals. It was a Sunday and all my teammates had split up so we could prepare for the finals in our respective places and ways. The game started at 12:30, but we had to be at the field by 11:30 so we could prepare for the game as a team.
Me and my family were driving back to the field, and a whirlwind of emotions were going through me. I thought to myself, are they going to be really good? Will I have a terrible game? Will I let my team down? As you can tell here, mostly negative thoughts were going through my mind, which isn’t particularly good before finals. We got to the parking lot and I wished my parents goodbye. My Dad came out of the car and walked me to the field to give me some last minute advice.
“Don’t be nervous, just play your game and leave it all out on the field.”
I responded, “Okay.” He went on further,
“Move with the ball before you pass, scan the area and see whose open, also, be calm. It might be difficult in the finals, but if you guys want to win, you have to be composed.” As he was talking, I was slowly nodding my head. Once we got to the field, me and my dad departed separate ways and me and my team were ready to warm-up. Conveniently, the warm-up felt like the shortest hour of my life, so now it was time to play.
The ref blew the whistle.
I had started at left back this game, and the first 7 or so minutes were pretty calm. A few moments later, we had a corner. My teammate whipped it into the box and the ball was scrambling. My teammate went for it and ended up getting KICKED in the face.
My teammate grabbed the ball and rifled it into the bottom left corner.
The game went on and with about 5 minutes before half-time, my teammate miscontrolled a ball, one of the other kids stole it and had a clear 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper. He ended up putting it calmly past the goalkeeper.
The ref then blew the whistle signaling half-time.
My coach then gave us some tips, “Guys, great job. We are playing so much better than them. The only thing we have to do is take the momentum back from them. They kind of stole it with that goal before the half, but I’m not worried. You guys are fully capable of winning this match, now go out there and do it.” A few moments later we were back out of the pitch. The ref blew the whistle and we resumed the game.
About 20 minutes into the second half, we were building the ball up nicely from the back and we found a split to one of our midfielders. He then turned and played a through ball to our striker, who finished the ball.
After this, it was time to park the bus. They kept attacking, and attacking, and we just cleared the ball every single time. With about 10 minutes left in the game, someone on the other team dribbled into the box and my team fouled them.
Me and my teammates lined up on the edge of the box ready to crash the rebound while the other kid placed the ball on the spot. He ran up and struck the ball…
He dragged it left. He missed.
After a few more minutes of defending and time wasting, the ref blew the whistle and the game was over. Me and my teammates ran to the corner flag near our parents and we started celebrating. All our hard work had paid off. EVerybody had knew it too. In order to get where we were, we had to work really hard. Everybody was ecstatic as we lifted the trophy.