It wasn’t the script we write for our seniors. This game was a late season test of their hard work and improved skills, a chance for them to achieve together and rise to the challenge at hand. Yet the score wasn’t right, we couldn’t possess with the consistency we hoped for, and we came up short.
But so much was as it should be. Here was the chance to show the effort we bring as a team, how we represent our school, why we support each other in a demanding test. It was the last home game of this season and facing our last three games with our record knotted at 5-5-2, we wanted badly to deliver. We had so many people behind us and we gave it our best.
Walking my dog Otis this morning, an extra jacket on, my hands jammed in pockets as he snuffled in the leaves, I thought about the friends and family who could be present to support their boys. Due to the kindness of parents, we gathered after the game for burritos, drinks, and a cake to celebrate their work this fall.
The seniors weren’t happy, of course. The game that began in slanted afternoon sun and fading warmth quickly turned to bright lights and a noisy crowd under a cold, clear night. We were ready and we battled, as this team always does, against a challenge of making do with injuries (expected) versus an opponent who draws from a bigger student body (shouldn’t every season include days when you must raise your game?).
SPS possessed with confidence and we were forced into our defensive shape. They were quick and our backline was busy with through balls and sharp combination play. As expected, our seniors held it down: captain Tate Matte, Aidan Botti, and Ciaran Britton kept us together and counterattacking. At midfield, seniors Reed Martin and Wes Koziol pushed the ball up the field for a few good looks at goal.
We were thinking of our seniors who were unable to play: George Hildner, Slater Whitehead, Pape Diop, and Trey Chickering could only watch.
It was a long, unlikely shot that put Saint Paul’s on the scoreboard halfway through the first frame. A defender stepped up some 30 yards out and thumped a ball that glanced under the crossbar & into our goal - senior keeper Nick Flanigan could only watch. We headed into halftime one goal down. In the 2nd half, another outside shot found the corner before an elusive long ball wormed its way into our goal and we were facing a three-bean deficit.
Midfielder-turned-striker An Nguyen got the crowd into full-throated roar in the 80th minute when he slipped behind the defense, sprinted onto the SPS goal, and cooly slotted home our first a la carte entree. Showing our resolve to grind, he ignored the celebration and collected the ball to get back at it.
While the celebrations ended there, what was important were our captain’s words at the dinner afterward: gratitude for family and parent support. The team appreciates the work and sacrifice that makes Proctor possible for our lads.
The coaches invite all parents to attend our final team dinner for more accolades of our seniors on Sunday, Nov 14th at the Proctor Ski Area.