Friday, January 29, 2010

Game Time

We are now in the midst of our test series with Holland and China. Today will be our first test with China, as we have already battled through a scrimmage and test match with Holland.

Sunday saw the first match up against the number one team in the world. No doubt the Dutch showed us in that first game why they won the Gold in Beijing. After three 25 minute periods, they had put in 5 goals on us, with us struggling to make anything happen with our attack. We proceeded to play an overtime period (golden goal) for practice. This was a tale of two very different teams. With a new mentality, in which we know we can compete with anyone, whether the previous scoreline shows this or not, we knotted one just 4 minutes into the first overtime. This was quite a shock to the Dutch who hadn't seen much action in their defensive end all game. It was a major step in the direction our team has been striving to go, and we were very excited to end on a positive note. A round of stokes still followed though. After one round, five strokers, it was tied 4-4. Followed by sudden death, Holland capitalized on their first chance, and we unfortunately didn't, leaving the final at 5-4. Although the score fails to show the steps we have taken as a team over the past year or so, we knew just how much positive we could take out of this game.

Building off of this first performance, our first real test match against Holland showed vast improvement. Our mentality and belief is one of our strongest attributes as a team. When it is present, it shows in our play on the field. Despite what has occurred in previous games against Holland, we went out on this day to win. The Dutch took an early lead just minutes in off a quick counter due to poor decision making on our part. We responded though with a goal of our own. Before the half was over, Holland yet again took advantage of a mistake in our backfield giving them the 2-1 lead going into break. The second half led to a multitude of chances that did quite return in our favor. Although we challenged the Dutch and kept them under tight pressure for the rest of the game, they proved their number one ranking with a pair of drag flick goals to end the game at 4-1. As a team, we know that this match was fairly evenly played, and that with a few adjustments (in particular, cleaning up a few unforced errors and finishing on a few more chances) the outcome can be much different.

Today is a new day though. With a few practices this week and a day off yesterday, we are fresh and ready to go for our next challenge, China. On mornings before games, we all have rituals or things we like to do. Often you will find people filling out the crossword, reading, or playing cribbage (Maren hehe); anything that is relaxing, yet still engaging. This morning I decided to go for a walk around the center. It's a beautiful day here and it was nice to just clear my head, loosen my legs up, and enjoy nature. But now it's time for the crossword before our pregame meeting!

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