Today was Championship Sunday in my coed soccer beer league. Both of my teams were still in the playoffs in their respective divisions.
At 2:45 my bottom-division team, the Stubby Holders, played in the championship game. We started the season with a win and two ties in our first six games, then went on a five-game winning streak to reach the championship. Unfortunately, the dream died when we lost for the third time this season to the Green Cards.
It was ugly. In the first half, I got caught on the wrong end of a 3-on-1 break which finished with a girl scoring a goal (which is a two-pointer in our league). In the second half, I was marking one of their guys who never uses his right foot, positioned myself to take away the left-footed shot he was hoping for, gave him just enough room to make a right-footed pass to someone who had no shot at all… and he decided to shoot it right-footed into our net. Just great. 4-0 loss. When the final whistle blew, one of their players said, “We’re citizens now!” I thought it was amusing.
Considering our team had won one game in the two previous seasons, I think it was at least a little bit respectable to finish 6-4-2 and get to the title game.
At 4:00 my middle-division team, All-American Specialty, played in our semifinal match against the second seeded team. I’m still not sure how we got there. We started the season with 3 wins in four games, and Your Humble Narrator had ten goals in those four games. We then lost the next five games mostly because the team stopped showing up and we’d play with no subs or we’d play short. So we finished the regular season with 3 wins and 6 losses. Good thing they let everybody in the playoffs. Last week we won our quarterfinal match 5-4 against the third seed after falling behind 4-0. Anyhow, even though our opponents (whose name was so grotesque I dare not repeat it here) had beaten us earlier in the year, we won this one relatively easily, 5-2.
That got us into the 6:20 final against the top seed, the team we beat in the very first game, which was their only loss of the year. The good news was that our whole team showed up so we had subs. The bad news was that two of us were about to play in our third game of the day. Early in the game I got caught again outnumbered on defense. If I ran up on the guy with the ball, he’d have tapped it to a wide open girl in front of the net. So I backed off a little to try and contain him, which was a mistake because he decided to shoot it right past me into the net. Down 1-0.
Right before the half, I got the ball deep in their left corner. I had my back to the goal, which is fine because it means the bad guys can’t get the ball. The defender was playing way too close to me, so I spun past him to the inside and slammed the ball right inside the near post to tie it up. I did my little celebration, which involves fireworks and a military fly-over, and realized that the guy I’d just burned was the guy who embarrassed me with his right-footed shot in the first game! Payback’s a bitch; tell your friends.
Anyhoo, at halftime we had to switch to a field that had better lighting. It didn’t help much because about halfway through it became extremely difficult to tell my team’s white jerseys from their team’s light blue jerseys. They scored to go up 2-1, but we roared back with three unanswered goals to take a 4-2 lead with ten minutes left.
At that point–even though there was all kinds of time left, especially considering that “girl goals” are worth 2 points–I knew we’d won. Why? Because right after our fourth goal, one of their best players said to me, “That’s game. You’re passing too well.” Their two best players stayed on the bench for the last ten minutes, another of their best players went in the back to play goalie. In other words, they quit. This was a team that beat my team 14-1 two seasons ago and showed us no mercy. Now we were beating them for the second time in two meetings this season, and they quit with ten minutes left. It was disgusting, but I’ll take it.
So, as the sixth seed in the tournament, we finished the season as a six-win, six-loss champion, which is bizarre. One of my teams finished as finalists, the other as champions. Now I have two soccerless weeks to hope my bones, tendons, ligaments, bruises and toenails heal.
Oh yeah, and the Bears scored 48 points for the first time in at least four centuries. Maybe Cutler’s for real, maybe Forte is back.