West Texas Windvitational 2008

This past Memorial Day weekend, Austin’s soccer team participated in the West Texas Invitational Cup 2008 in Lubbock, TX. After all these years of playing, it was Austin’s first tournament. If you don’t want to read the whole post, here’s the short version:

Six games in two days with 95+ degree temperature and constant winds of 30+ mph and gusts over 50 mph.

Austin was the only goalkeeper in his flight of 5 teams to produce a shutout.

Austin made the game winning save in overtime of the finals.

The Icebreakers took 3rd place in their age bracket of 9 teams.

Longer version but still good reading:

Game 1: Saturday 8:00 AM. Icebreakers 4 – Hobbs Santos 4. This was the team that defeated the Icebreakers 8-0 last year. Most of them were small and lightning fast. It was a high paced game (since we now have some pretty quick kids out front) and the game ended in a draw. Everyone was pretty pleased at that.

Game 2: Saturday 11:45 AM. Icebreakers 4 – Lubbock Texas Thunder 0. Austin was in the goal the entire game and this was his shutout. His first clean sheet. That made the weekend pretty sweet.

Game 3: Saturday 3:30 PM. Icebreakers 1 – Lubbock Rowdies 3. The Rowdies went on to eventually win the tournament, although their style of play was very unorthodox. They got a couple of points ahead and then spent the majority of the rest of the game kicking the ball out of bounds. They used the wind for this. They would purposely kick as hard as they could with the wind. Our guys would spend 60 seconds chasing the ball across two other fields just to get it back, throw it in and have them boot it across the park again. Half the game wasn’t played because we were tiring ourselves out chasing balls. We spoke to the 2nd place team at the end and they said the exact same thing happened to them. Shame…

Game 4: Sunday 7:45 AM. Icebreakers 2 – Borger HC Heat 1. Both teams had to win to advance to the finals. It was very hard fought and they scored the leveling goal within the last minute. But the linesman’s flag went up and the goal was disallowed because one of the players was called offside. Afterward, the Heat refused to line up and shake hands with us. It wasn’t very pretty. The referee forced them to line up and shake hands. I’m sure they protested to the tourney commissioner, because they were all over the ref afterwards. But it was a good call and we advanced to the finals.

Game 5: Sunday 11:00AM. Icebreakers 1 – San Antonio Bombers 4. In my opinion, this was the best team in our age bracket. It was hard to tell though, as the wind played a major factor. It was constant and literally 30 mph and harder at times. Any kicks against the wind just died. This was also a hard game for Austin. The coach wasn’t paying attention and forgot to put him in the game. She even called him up to the sub spot and then forgot he was there. She subbed in two others while he was standing there. When she realized what she had done, she said “I’m so sorry!” But she never attempted to put him in again. He sat there 20 minutes waiting for her to do something. She never did. I almost lost it at the end. Her actions were inexcusable. She humiliated my son. We went back to our cousin’s house for a couple of hours and considered our options. In the end, Austin said he would give it one more try, despite the coach’s actions. I’m glad we returned, because…

Game 6: Sunday 3:00 PM. Icebreakers 5 – Midland Chaos 4. This was the consolation final for 3rd place and we were playing our old local rival, Chaos. We’d already played them twice this year and lost by 1 and tied 1. The kids were pumped for this game.

Austin was in the goal for most of the game. We ended the first half down 2-1. We were against the wind in the 2nd half. But the front four came out ready to play and we scored three unanswered points in the first four minutes. Over the next 20 minutes, Chaos scored twice more drawing them even and the coach pulled Austin out of the goal. After the previous game, he was pretty dejected that he had allowed four goals and gotten pulled. It was hard for him to see that he had stopped a lot more than he had allowed. The game ended level at 4-4. Overtime.

Austin sat out the first 10 minute overtime period. We scored pretty quickly into it and were up 5-4. We both assumed his playing time was done for the day. They had 60 seconds to break and prepare for the last 10 minute overtime period and the coach yelled, “Austin, in the goal!” Surprise, surprise. We scramble to get him back into his keeper clothing.

The last period begins and we are against the wind, but up by one point. It goes back and forth several times with shots on goal at both ends. I am timing the game and everyone keeps asking me how much is left. We get down to one minute and it’s a corner kick on Austin’s end. It goes back out. Another corner. 30 seconds left. Kick. Out of bounds. 15 seconds left. Another corner. Out of bounds. Goal kick this time.

At this point, the time has well-expired, but it’s the referees call when the game ends. I know from being a former ref that this can be a tough thing. For one, the ball must be in play for the game to end. Also, refs generally don’t call the game when there is a good chance that a score might be made. It usually ends in a riot. So I’m thinking, “Ok, Austin will make the goal kick, clear the box and get it out into the field and the ref will call the game.”

Austin makes the kick head level and it barely clears the box, landing at the feet of a Chaos player with the wind at his back. Inside I’m screaming “NO!” Chaos plants and kicks a beautiful shot over every one’s head, but basically straight at Austin. He reaches up and pulls the ball down, but looses the grip and it bounces forward. Two Chaos players are on it immediately. In the three longest seconds of the weekend, Austin fights them in front of the goal and gets the ball back in his hands. He runs to the edge of the box and clears it out. And immediately, tweet tweet tweet. Game over. My boy saved the game with his time-expired grab. Thank you Lord.

We came home with a trophy and sun-aged skin. The trip home through the major duststorm in Lamesa and the lightning show north of Midland is another story.

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