A 12 Yard Shot

I wrote this a few hours after a triple overtime playoff match with our biggest college soccer rivals. Our two teams were among the top five in the country at the time, and had the misfortune of meeting early in the NCAA Tournament, on our home field at Stanford. The match went tied through all the overtimes, in one of the worst downpours I ever played in; it was a total mess. The thousands of fans who showed up toughed out the horrible weather and three hours of soccer to watch it settled via penalty kicks. After five penalty kicks, we were stilled tied. We entered the sixth round, head-to-head rules meaning a made shot matched against a missed shot would end the game.

I was cleaning my apartment today and I found my journal (the old kind that requires a pen) which I kept while I was traveling with the US National team and sporadically thereafter. I poked through it and found this entry.  I’ll post a few more in the near future.

I wrote this a few hours after a triple overtime playoff match with our biggest college soccer rivals. Our two teams were among the top five in the country at the time, and had the misfortune of meeting early in the NCAA Tournament, on our home field at Stanford. The match went tied through all the overtimes, in one of the worst downpours I ever played in; it was a total mess. The thousands of fans who showed up toughed out the horrible weather and three hours of soccer to watch it settled via penalty kicks. After five penalty kicks, we were stilled tied. We entered the sixth round, head-to-head rules meaning a made shot matched against a missed shot would end the game.

I was the our sixth shooter. My opponent made his shot, and I didn’t.

November 18, 1999

Until early November of the year 2000, I hope I never forget how tonight felt.

To watch every dream you had for a season, all your goals, slip away on a missed penalty kick.

To look into the senior’s eyes, Coach’s eyes, and the eyes of everyone else that put four years of hard work into being the best team in the entire country.

I worked my goddamn ass off for a year and it all ended in a rainstorm and mudbowl and a twelve year shot.  I am completely crushed, disappointed, and demoralized.  It just f*cking sucks.

I hate hearing everything that I would be telling someone else in my situation…

I know it all, and it sounds great as it’s being said but my goddamn heart is in the next f*cking round of that soccer tournament.  It might still be laying on the field next to the penalty spot at the north end of the field waiting for another chance to take that shot.

I’m so numb I don’t really have any idea.

And I know I can work harder that I have, be twice the player I am today…so why the f*ck aren’t I?  Why am I here and success is somewhere else?  I feel like a crock…a f*cking lie.  I’m left with nothing from this year’s season to prove otherwise.

This better be enough to put my ass in the game like it should be.

I put a huge effort into tonight and came up short.  End of story.

I am never going to say that again if it kills me.  Not winning hurts a lot worse than whatever I have to do to win.

F*CK.

Photo by Pink Sherbet.

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