Finally the match we were waiting for. At least that I was waiting for. I’ve practice specifically for that match, using our hamburger formation. I was certain that this would be the right strategy to exhaust their energy and then counter attack to win the match. There are two key players that we must pay attention at all times; their #13 and their #30. #13 had been the four years in their team so we know precisely how she plays. As a matter of a fact, I think in the whole ACAMIS she is the only one that can say proudly that she won against SCIS. She was part of the team of our only two losses in ACAMIS in the last four years, in 2011 when we lost 4 x 0 to them and then lost in the final 3 x 2. The other player is a clever striker with a good dribble and great pass. We must keep a constant eye on them.
I think plans exists only to be thrown away. 10 minutes before the match, one of our key players on hamburger got sick. I mean, sick sick. Kyra was throwing up on the edge of the field, with Hailey cheering for her. That’s what I call friendship. So now I did not only lost Hailey and Kyra but I would not be able to play the formation that I had planned. On our side was the fact that a week ago we had a match against them here in Shanghai and we won without any major problem. Also, BISS had a hard time against KAS and ended up tied 0 x 0, which gave us the tied score for this match.
We started with Bella, Tehillah and Mikayla, Alva on the right, Suh-Young on the left and inês center with Franziska as striker. BISS started the match doing what they always do, their #13 shoots the ball from the middle all the way to our goalie. Mikayla’s job was the most ungrateful one. She had to shadow the #30 for almost the whole match.
The match started extremely tense but at the same time extremely fair for both sides. For the first 5 minutes we spent more time attacking than defending but we knew that any distractions would be lethal and we had a taste of it at the 8th minute. #30 won a ball against Mikayla headed towards our box, Tehillah and Alva did not decided who actually would get the ball so Alva shot the ball on Tehillah’s face and the ball ended up on the foot of their #2 but we have Bella. Our Swedish Black Spider (in this case grey) jumped like a cat on #2 feet and got the ball. As a matter of a fact, I love Bella’s personality. Not later in the game, at the 11th minute, there was a free kick for Pudong and the #13, who has a great shot, as getting ready to shoot. I shouted to Bella to be careful with the left side and while the #13 was shooting, my Swedish Black Spider shouts back: “I’m on it!”and as she said, she easily got the ball. I never had a team that felt so safe with a goalie like those two years with Bella. She is amazing!
I’ve noticed that almost every throw-in, every free-kick was taken by their #13 but she would take all the time of the world to take those. I guess she was already tired and that was a way to catch her breath. When she was taking the goal kicks, it gave us a little breathing room in the center midfield, considering it would take a while to her to be there. On the other hand, when we were attacking it was a throw in to BISS, it was stressing all the time she took to throw the ball. Anyway, it was 0 x 0 so I felt it was kind of ok because it would also give time to our players to rest. Besides one slow shot from #13 at the end of the first half, not much happened.
Second half. I was more worried about our physical conditions than anything else. Everybody was telling me they were ok so we started the second half with the same time that ended first. And we started strong. Franziska was driving their defenders crazy with her speed and power. She already had a free-kick and a good shot at their goal.
I would like to address also how windy it was. If you see the video, you can see the trees on the back really bending to the left side, so this makes even hard to run and to pass the ball. Also that little cotton thing, flying everywhere, looking like snow, was being swallowed by all players with does not help at all for sure.
Then with 5 minutes of the second half, BISS started to “enjoy” the game and pressure us. Mikayla, that was flawless until then shadowing #30, was out of her position to take the ball away from BISS #2 but she accidentally passed the ball to BISS #13, who quickly founded #30 alone, in front of our ball. It was all written to be a goal. But who thought that, does not know that we have a Swedish Black Spider as goalie. Bella operated a miracle! She threw herself at the feet of #30, stretching her right arm and saving that goal. It was like seeing a professional goalie. What a save!
So much pressure from BISS would result in a goal. And what a goal! In a throw-in, we deflected the ball on the left side of our box. It landed on the lethal feet of their #13. She pretended that would shoot, fooling Alice and with her left foot, shot a gorgeous ball over Bella, dying inside our net. It was almost like the impossible goal from Franziska a week ago during SISAC. Beautiful shot with no chance for Bella.
Sometimes I question myself why our team is so good and win so much. It’s very easy to point out that we win because we are better but why are we better? If I could point out a specific attribute that make my Amazon Warriors special is the fact they never give up. Not only this but every time the ball goes back in the central circle, no matter if it’s our goal or the other team’s goal, we press the reset button. We restart. We consider that the match starts right now. With Inês off the field resting, it was up to Franziska to get the ball in our net, walk calmly to the center midfield, and reset. Although the scoreboard said 0 x 1 to BISS, for us the match was starting now. And we had 11 minutes at least to tie that match.
If before #13 would take long for every throw-in, now seemed even longer so we had to avoid letting the ball out because of that. Also, Mikayla was already getting exhausted pursuing #30 but she was key to our game plan so I could not really sub, specially not having Kyra available.
On one of those throw-ins, Franziska, that was helping the defenders, pushed an incredible counter-attack, crossing the ball to Phoebe alone in the box but unfortunately the ball was a bit too high and too strong to Phoebe to trap it. It would had been a great opportunity. With seven minutes, was Franziska who missed a great chance. Wonder Alice shot a ball from far away, a defender deflected and Franziska stretched her left foot but the ball went too high.
Mikayla was “running on fumes”, with zero energy. I begged her to stay a little longer on the field and even exhausted, she still was blocking any attack from the #30. I was already preparing in my mind the speech that “we lost when we actually could because we still can be champions” blah blah blah when 2 minutes to end, the Swedes saved the day. Alva from the right, dribbled #20 and shot to the goal, their defenders deflected the ball and God wanted this ball to end up on the feet of our cute Wonder Alice. Even with three BISS players in front of her, she took a shot with her left foot, completely taking BISS goalie off guard. GOAL!!!! 1 x 1!!
The goal cooled off BISS girls, not believing in what happened. We still had a free kick that Franziska took brilliantly but it was a bit too in the middle and the goalie got it. Alva still had a rebound but time was up.
It was a tie that felt like a victory. We kept our undefeated streak, we were first in the round robin and we did not let BISS beat us. What else could I ask? For sure, from one player I could not ask more. Mikayla may had not score a goal in this match but what she did for the team was incredible. She definitely took one for the team, specially considering she had a nose bleeding in the match before and still she was full force in the field. A true Amazon Warrior. Our Wonder Alice, cute but fighting like a giant, saved us from a defeat. Both of them are vital for this team. Now, let’s prepare for the next day. Semifinal Vs BISS Beijing, the team that played against us with all players back. The goal will be to score two goals as fast as we can so we can rotate players. Now it’s time to celebrate and rest since I can still proudly say…. BELLATORUM INVICTUM!
MVP of the match: Mikayla