So here we are. The best from the west vs the best from the east. Both teams undefeated in the league and in the tournament. While we came from a good match against BISS Pudong (1 x 0), Dulwich tied against BISS Puxi and went to Penalty kicks. Last year we faced them at ACAMIS twice and we tied twice (on the semifinals, we won on the extra time). I’ve watched the first half of them playing against the French School and I’ve felt they were good but not unbeatable. The French School gave them a hard time. It was a challenge but we could beat them and if we really wanted to be the best team in Shanghai, that’s what we needed to do.
We started the match with our traditional starting line up with Bella, Mikayla and Tehillah, Inês as center midfield, Alice on the right and Kyra on the left and Franziska as our striker. The game started well balanced and we actually had the first shot at goal with a slow shot from Franziska at the 2nd minute of the game. Dulwich attacked and unfortunately our Wonder Alice got hurt, hitting her head against an attacker from Dulwich but still Kyra was able to pull a counter-attack where Franziska was one-on-one against a defender and unfortunately shot the ball out. I had to call my Happy Swedish Alva to come in and actually that was great for the team, as you will see soon.
The next 10 minutes was stressful with no team actually dominating the match. We had some chances, they had some. I have to say that this was the first game that someone actually shot a ball towards Bella. We had good chances also with a beautiful shot from far away from Kyra.
Then on the 20th minute what never happened this season, ended up happened. On a side throw, Alva deflected a ball to the middle, their player 14 shot a ball, Tehillah jumped and hit her foot, changing the trajectory of the ball and fooling our Swedish Black Spider. 1 X 0 Dulwich. Seems that the only way to score on Bella is if the ball hits one of our players. It was like that last year during ACAMIS and happened again here. Before that, the only goal we suffered this season was from a Penalty kick.
Now was a moment that I made me proud. My captain Inês went to the goal, picked up the ball, and calmly walked to the center of the field, repeating the gesture of Didi, the captain of the Brazilian team in the final of the World Cup of 1958 against Sweden. This calmed down out team and gave us time to cool down and get our minds into the game. I knew with two more minutes in that half, there was not much that it could be done but just avoid them scoring another goal. I normally don’t brag about myself but I have to say something here. At that moment, Dulwich had a corner kick and I called Franziska to talk to her, already preparing for the 2nd half. if you pay attention on the audio of the video, at 20:45, you will hear me saying: “Take your time, it’s gonna be your match”. I have to say that our German Panzer is being almost a perfect striker this season. She runs, fights for the ball, is fast and the only flaw she had last year, she improved a lot this one, which was the precision in her shots. It’s been awesome! When she needs to rest, Hail Gribble! comes in and shows why she is also one of our best athlete in all sports.
On the last minute, a scary moment. We were attacking and a ball was deflected to our defensive side. Tehillah trapped it nicely and went to dribble their #14. The #14 stole the ball from Tehillah, who fell straight on her face. Normally I would not worry about my Indestructible Dutch but this time, she was limping. At the same time, our solid defender Mikayla was able to brilliantly slow the Dulwich counter attack, giving time to other players to come back. I decided to take Tehillah out, for the first time in the tournament, so she could rest and I could access the damage. Greta got in under an immense pressure, in a final match against a strong team with us losing. It’s not an easy task at all. First half was over. Time to talk to my team.
I’ve told them to simply calm down. I’ve told them that we are the current champions, we are the team with best record. They should be the ones afraid. All we needed was one goal. I was sure if we went to penalty kicks we would win. Just calm down and play our game. That’s all we needed. Be well positioned defensively and push forward. We have to have a presence at the attack so we could hold them off.
The first five minutes was only Hongqiao pressuring. Franziska had three shots already at their goal. At the 8th minute was Kyra’s turn to have a nice shot from the left side. It was almost a replay of our semi-final against the same Dulwich last year during ACAMIS when she scored the winning goal.
After that, something very weird, which I never saw in my four years of coaching here in Shanghai happened. They subbed their goalie for another player that was already in the field! This spent around 3-4 minutes doing that. Luckily we had a very good referee that actually added this injury time later, which made ALL the difference as you will see. Almost also as a punishment for that, at the 11th minute of the second half, our German Panzer scored the impossible goal. After fighting for the ball between three Dulwich players, from almost the sideline on the right side, she shot a ball on the extreme opposite angle of the crossbar and pole. Not even Roberto Carlos would do that. Take a look on this picture to see where Franziska was. It’s insane! 1 x 1.
From that moment on, I knew that the match was ours. Our spirits were high and we started to press Dulwich back even more. Kyra had a great shot saved by the goalie and Franziska shot more two great balls at their goal. Even if ended tied, I was feeling that this SISAC was ours.
With 8 minutes and a half to end the match, I took Kyra and Franziska out and put Suh-Young and Hailey in the match. The idea was to inject fresh blood and also to rest both my Glass Head and German Panzer for our penalty kicks. I was planning on having them back in the game with 3-2 minutes to end for exactly that purpose. Then something wonderful happened. Alva just deflected a ball on our defensive system. After less than a minute she was already close to their goal box and guess what? Their defenders deflected a ball that hit Suh-Young and fell on her lethal right foot. I guess her Viking blood from her ancestors have her enough energy to drive such a powerful shot that made impossible to their goalie to stop. You have to understand, this girl was on fire! Running everywhere, defending and attacking non-stop since she got in the field. From now on Alva is my Happy Viking. Way to go girl!
So, what we need to do in a final match, with 7 minutes to end, winning 2 x 1? We have to position ourselves very solid defensively. Like, almost everybody back. I mean, REALLY back. Guess what happened? They scored right after the free kick. Their #21 passed through Alva on the left side and was able to pass by Tehillah, crossed and by such unlucky situation, Suh-Young tried to deflect and scored an own goal. No blame on her at all. The ball hit her knee and died inside our net. Seems that Bella is cursed with that since last year she also suffered only own goals against Dulwich. 2 x 2
Then the coach from Dulwich said something that shook me to the core. She shouted to their girls : “Come on girls! You are undefeated”. Wait a second. WE are the undefeated team. We don’t lose since April 14th 2012. I have players in my team for two years that don’t know what is to lose an official match. Besides that, we were 2 x 2. I was still confident that we would win at least on the penalty kicks. But silly me. I don’t have a team, I have a squadron. I have a group of fierce Amazon Warriors who never gives up. Instead of being shaken up what did we do? Attack.
And it was only us. Attack vs defence. With 4 minutes left on the clock, Kyra and Franziska went back and my German Panzer was impossible. She wanted this match more than anything. with three minutes to end the match she forced Dulwich goalie to make an awesome save. With the official time over, you can hear me shouting in Portuguese to Inês :”It’s over! It’s over! Let’s get the ball and push forward”. I sincerely just wanted to keep the ball away from Bella but I guess Franziska had a different idea. In the injury time (23rd minute of the second half), Kyra passes to Inês, our Portuguese Brain finds our German Panzer sprinting to the attacking field. She sees with the corner of her eyes the goalie coming out of the goal and with a gorgeous little touch, takes it out from her hands. 3 x 2 SCIS! Our German Panzer, with her surgical accuracy, saved the day from penalty kicks. After that, only one more minute and then voilá! Twice in a row SISAC Champions.
So now here I am, happy as a coach can be. With no voice whatsoever and extremely proud of my 14 Amazon Warriors. Special thanks also to our “veterans” Katy Ni and Marta Casanovas who came to support and help us a lot! Lily Briggs who filmed many matches and was there today to support by taking wonderful pictures of our team. Above all, thanks to the parents who were there constantly supporting the whole team. I am forever grateful for allowing me to train your daughters. There is no question that you raised them amazingly well and your support for the “wonderful game” made them champions.
I definitely deserve a sip of a delicious Port Wine from a harvest of 1972 that I’ve been saving. For my girls, here is what I have to say; enjoy this achievement. We won EVERY SINGLE MATCH IN SHANGHAI. There is no question who rules this city. Shanghai belongs to the Amazon Warriors. Shanghai is ours… again!
Goals: Alva, Franziska (2)
MVP of the match: Franziska