Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mattoonery... rhymes with buffoonery.

I was back in my old stomping grounds yesterday. My daughter's soccer season started with an away game, and we were on the road down to Mattoon. (On the way to the field, I drove past the Icehouse, the site of Johnny's "All fun and games..." story.)

Let me digress. Here's the thing about Mattoon. It's the shabbier, crappier version of Charleston, the town where I grew up. It's the version of Charleston that Charleston would have been if Eastern hadn't been there. Instead of a university, Mattoon got an interstate off ramp. Mattoon hates Charleston because they claim that Charleston cheated to get the university (true). Charleston hates Mattoon because the people that live there are no-class jerks (also true). Or maybe because they have that sweet interstate off ramp right outside of town and you have to drive 10 minutes to get to Charleston... one or the other. Remember the "no-class" part, it's coming up again soon.

So anyway... soccer. My daughter Zoe found out the day before yesterday that she wasn't going to be starting varsity after all, and she was pretty disappointed. The coaches talked to her after the game yesterday and gave her an explanation for their decision. It turned out to be the one that I had suspected. They need someone to provide leadership for all the new players, and they picked Zoe to be that person. She's got a great eye for the flow of the game, and as center mid she's in the perfect position to be the team leader. But, because the varsity starters can't play in jv, it means she can't start varsity.

This year, our high school team is going to struggle. Last year we had a lot of seniors graduate, and because they cut players last year instead of planning ahead, we are really short handed this year. We barely have enough players to field a varsity and a jv team, and a lot of the freshmen players are new to soccer. To make things worse, anyone who starts varsity can't play in the jv game, so the new players are going to be playing without subs. Ouch.

We got there a few minutes into the game, and the jv team was already down a goal. The Mattoon team wasn't that great, but they were still running all over us. Whenever we had the ball, they were all over us like stink on a monkey. Then I counted jersies. What the hell? I counted again.

They had 11 players. We had 8.

To make matters worse, not too long after we got there, one of our players was injured and had to come off, so it was 11 versus 7 for the rest of the game. How did this happen? Because of injuries and illness, we were even more short handed than ever yesterday, and we could only field 8 jv players. Because he has no class, the Mattoon coach played a full team against our short-handed jv team so they could run up the score and get a win against our jv team, even if it doesn't count in the standings. The ref had tried to suggest that they play 8 on 8, but the Mattoon coach insisted on playing a full team.

Zoe was everywhere. She was dropping back on defense, helping to keep the other players calm and out of trouble, making attacking runs. Still, there is only so much a team can do when the other team has 4 extra players.

It was a rout. 8-0, including an own goal by one of our defenders, and the Mattoon parents cheered and whistled and rang their cowbells and sounded their noisemakers every time they scored. Nice show of class all around. Pretty much what you would expect from a pack of... err... what the hell do you call people from Mattoon? Mattooninites?

Of course, it's not so easy when we aren't spotting them 4 players, and our varsity team tore them a new one. We went up 3-nil before finishing the game at 3-1. Boo yah, Mattoon, boo yah.

Zoe's frustrated because she ran her ass off in the jv game and didn't have the energy she wanted when she did get subbed into the varsity game. She still got a few decent shots off and made some nice plays, but she's hoping to play her way back into her varsity spot, and it's hard to shine in that situation.

If the other coaches decide to play 11 on 8, it's going to be a long season.


Johnny Yen said...

I guess the last laugh was on them: they had to stay in Spitoon, um, I mean Mattoon.

deadspot said...

True dat.

Writeprocrastinator said...

"The ref had tried to suggest that they play 8 on 8, but the Mattoon coach insisted on playing a full team."

And then he kicked a cane out from under an old lady for good measure...what a bastard!