A strange game.

Tonight’s JV boys’ soccer game at Wolfson:

Four minutes in, we chipped the ball into the goal area. Their keeper somehow managed to put the ball in his own net. Paxon 1-0.

Less than five minutes later, one of their players played the ball into our goal area. I still don’t know whether he was shooting or passing to someone who missed the ball. The ball rolled towards the middle of the goal. Our goalie stood two yards off its path and watched it roll. He seemed to think it was going to roll outside the post, but he clearly didn’t know where the post was, because the ball rolled right into the middle of the goal. Tie game, 1-1.

Back and forth, back and forth. With a few minutes left in the second half, one of our guys fought off two huge defenders, raced behind their entire defense (keeper included) to get to a loose ball just a few yards away from their empty net. Instead of tapping it into the net, he managed to kick the ball almost all the way to the sideline. 1-1 at the half.

The bad guys scored a few minutes into the second half: their forward and our goalie went head to head for a loose ball. They collided. From where I stood, it looked like in the process of getting up, one of them hit the ball and it rolled into our net. Wolfson 2-1.

A few minutes later, they scored a very good goal off a corner. They served the ball to just the right spot, their tallest guy outjumped our tallest guy, and headed it just past our goalie’s stretched arms. Wolfson 3-1, about 20 minutes left.

Almost from the kickoff, our guys finally started moving the ball quickly. They strung together a series of passes that looked something out of a video game set on the easiest level, and one of our guys tapped it past the goalie. Wolfson 3-2.

About ten minutes from time, a ball was thrown in and found its way right in front of their goalie. I think our guy hit the ball with his knee and floated it over the goalie. Everyone looked confused and waited for the signal from the ref. It was a goal, but despite having roared back to tie it up, both teams quietly and oddly walked back for the kickoff. Tied, 3-3.

With under two minutes left in the game, we got a corner kick. Our guy served it in low, right at one of their defenders– who caught it. I mean, he caught it with both hands. He looked thoroughly confused. Our guys were confused. It looked like the defender thought there was going to be a re-kick, or maybe he thought the corner kick was incorrectly called and that our guy was giving them the ball so they could set up a goal kick. He was that nonchalant about catching it– I think that the kid honestly didn’t think it was in play. But the ref blew the whistle, gave the PK, and it finally dawned on the poor kid that he’d made a critical mistake.

I felt awful for that defender. If the ref had blown the whistle and told us to re-kick the corner because he wasn’t ready yet, I wouldn’t have said a word.

Oh well. Our guy nailed the PK. Paxon 4-3.

It was the biggest comeback I’ve coached, it was one of the most exciting games I’ve coached, and it was probably the most bizarre game I’ve coached. Five weird goals and two good goals, but as I’ve said over and over again in practice: every goal counts the same, pretty or ugly.

I think I lost my cool a few times during the game. A particular kid held on to the ball too long, and I yelled something like, “Were the guys in front of the net too wide open?” Benched him for twenty minutes, but he redeemed himself by making better passes and scoring the PK.