Five o'clock on a beautiful cool fall afternoon, the sun shining bright after a morning of rain. CSM and Kansas Wesleyan walk on the field at Tranquility park. Little did they know that an epic battle between 2 storied programs was about to commence. (I sound like NFL Films.)
Honestly, in the first half, we struggled. We seemed to be content with just sagging back and playing defense with little success in attack. At halftime the coaches just told them basically to play simple and play hard. We needed to string good passes together and find our confidence. We had trained hard. The players know what to do. It was time to go and do it.
Right after halftime, a visiting recruit, Abby Zach came over to our sideline to hang out for awhile. Abby is from Gering , Nebraska and plays her high school ball at Scottsbluff High School. She verbally committed to CSM a few weeks ago and was in town visiting her sister. Abby is a midfielder and also plays for the Kearney regional club team that has all the good players on the team from greater Nebraska. Abby was able to sign her letter of intent on the sidelines during the game and in doing so will play for us next year after she graduates from high school. We already have an Abby on the team (Abby Schlater) so next year we will be blessed with 2 Abbys (or Abby squared.) Congrats Abby and welcome to the Flames Family.
Anyway, it just so happened that right after Abby (Zach, not Schlater) came to the sidelines, the team started doing better on the field. We were really hustling and getting to the ball quickly. We started creating chance after chance. One series of chances included hitting the crossbar twice in 10 seconds. I asked Abby if this happens to her--that people start playing better due to her presence and she of course admitted that yes, that happens all the time. Ha. Boy, I can't wait for next year. Abby had to run---they were driving to Lincoln and we said goodbye. Abby, you missed such an exciting end of the game. But, no worries, I am sure you will be part of many exiting moments next year!
Back to the game...we started creating a lot of chances until---we scored. With about 10 minutes to go in the game, Allyssa Valquier, playing the right wing ran through a ball played poorly by the KWU defense and found herself free and clear. The KWU keeper sprinted at her and Allyssa calmly chipped the ball over the keeper's head. GOALLLLLLLLLL! I do believe that is Allyssa's first career college goal and it couldn't have come at a better time.
Our celebration and good feeling took a hit 5 minutes later when KWU equalized when we failed to keep track of their center mid and she hit a loose ball at the top of the box that Jackie Swanger was unable to save.
By the way, Jackie had an awesome game in the net.
We finished the second half again playing a lot of defense. The first OT period found us raring to go. The team totally pumped themselves up in between periods and they went out like gangbusters. Again, pure hustle created a chance. The third minute of overtime, Ashley Turco was able to run through a loose ball and like Allyssa, found herself 1v1 with the keeper. Did she put it away? Heck ya! Sudden death for KWU and a sweet goal for us. Game over, CSM wins 2-1.
I told the team afterward that I thought they grew up right before my eyes. We struggled in the first half but weathered the storm and finished strong in the end.
I was so excited at the winning goal that I ran onto the field (and I hardly ever do that--I try to maintain a calm composure through both struggles and success--ya--that didn't happen today.) After everyone had dog piled Turco, I ran up and gave her a big hug. A classic, epic battle that ended very nicely for us.
Next game is Wednesday against Bellevue.
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