Off to Section 11… again.

El Cajon U10 All Stars

El Cajon U10B All-Stars

I have not posted about soccer in a while, even though it has been a big part of our lives the last few months. Petr finished up the season with 14 goals.  He is no Messi, but when his team needed him, he stepped up. As predicted, his team did not go very far in the playoffs at the end of the season. However, he was picked to play on one of the El Cajon all-star teams.  Sunday they played in the semi-final and final of the Area 11V tournament.  Both games went to extra time, and the final was decided on penalties.  Penalties are what they are, effectively nothing more than a highly stressful and exciting series of coin tosses to see who wins. They came out ahead needing only 4 rounds after a their keeper saved one and another rebounded off the post.

I was so emotionally worn out Sunday night that the AFC Championship felt like watching Jacksonville against Kansas City.

Now it is off to Garden Grove in February for the Section 11 playoffs.

Let the season begin

You cannot make out much in this photo, but that is OK.  What you may not be able to see is that Petr, of the Fireballs U10 team, is walking back to midfield after scoring a hat trick in his preseason game. Last year he was on a great team, in fact they won their region.  This may have contributed to his lack of tenacity, letting the other players do the work.  He was also a year younger. I do not think his team will go as far this year, but that may be a benefit for Petr.  He knows that he has to get things done, and showed he was willing to do it.

I told both the boys, $1 per goal.  I am looking forward to an expensive season.

It gives me a lot of hope as well.  We can all come through.

A great weekend

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Petr had two playoff games on Saturday.  The early one they did not play at their best and came away with a draw.  The afternoon game they played way above themselves and won 3-2 over a great team.  After adding up the AYSO tournament scoring numbers, Petr’s team had made it to the Semifinals to be played Sunday morning.

This weekend also marked a record 7th time in the calendar year that Real Madrid met Barcelona.  Every time they meet it is known in Spain as “El Clasico.”  Real Madrid has had a bad run as of late, and Saturday showed their fortune has not changed, as they lost 3-1 at home.  Not the makings of a great weekend for me, a Real fan.

Sunday was a better day.  I was asked to teach the High School group at church because the youth pastor is on a missions trip to Uganda.  That went really well, but I did miss one of Petr’s soccer games in the morning.

They won the morning game which meant they were going to play in the AYSO East County Final.  Of all the teams from Alpine, Jamul, Lakeside, Santee, El Cajon and La Mesa it had come down to these two.

At around the 2 minute mark, they gave up a penalty on a handball inside the area.  The boy from the other team struck it hard and right into the net off a slight deflection from the keepers hands after a great dive.  Knowing that Petr’s team had been playing a bit above themselves for most of the tournament, I feared that would be a tough goal to overcome.  I was wrong!  Good coaching, great defending, awesome goalkeeping and constant passes forward left the other team exposed to the counter attack, time after time.  The game ended 5-1.  So Petr’s team is now the regional AYSO champion U10 team.

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That is a great weekend.  (Now we get to go play in the Southern California tournament in February.)

Another week of Slurpees

Petr has really picked up his game in the last few weeks.  I think he is learning he can actually do it.  This means more things for me to learn as a parent. He has become a bit more aggressive and seems to have an interest in making things happen.

Petr played in the regional AYSO playoffs this weekend.  His team played against Alpine.  The run of play was mostly one way for Petr’s team with close to 70% of the possession.  The other team had one player who was a constant threat to counter attack, but they did not produce any real scoring chances in the first half.

The first half also had Petr’s great shot, probably his best of the season.  It came at the end of a great play, which at this level is quite rare.  Most goals come from the outstanding play of a single player.  One of his teammates gathered the ball around midfield and moved down the field, eventually laying it off to his right, where Petr, in his regular form, was excellently positioned.  He tapped it forward and finished with a strong strike. Unfortunately it was straight at the keeper who made the save.

The second half saw more of the same, Petr’s team enjoying the majority of the possession, but no goals were coming.  Off of a goal kick, the ball bounced to Petr.  He was near the right sideline about even with the center circle, just inside the offensive half.  He wound up his leg and struck the ball on a half volley.  It soared over everyone, including the keeper, finding  the upper left corner of the net, 1-0.

He was really excited.  He continued to play with a renewed sense of passion. They went on to win 2-1.  They got another good goal from their best player and gave one up on a counter by the other teams best player.

After the game he said to me, “I thought that kind of goal could only be scored by someone on Real Madrid or something!”  Sometimes it just takes a taste of success for us to grasp God’s design in our lives.  The hard work never seems like it is going to pay off, so graciously He lets us score from time to time.  Sometimes He also rewards us when we do well.  Petr will be getting slurpees every day this week.

The first goal = Slurpees

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As I have posted about the boys soccer you may get the idea that I am more than a little frustrated with their drive to accomplish something.  So I wanted to give them an incentive to play harder, a carrot to give them a taste for winning.  I said that if they won their game, I would buy them a Slurpee.  I wanted to be careful to make sure they were learning the game, so I did not want to incentivize any particular stat or action, just win.

Cammy, in the heat of the moment, said, “If you score a goal I will buy you a Slurpee every day of the week!”  I mumbled, “What if they are playing keeper?”

Andrej played keeper on Saturday, but only for the final quarter.  He never touched the ball.  In the first half though, he played midfield.  He had his most aggressive match yet, and guess what.  Cammy is buying him a Slurpee today, and tomorrow, and… well you can figure it out.

This is a great encouragement for me, in my life, as it should be for you.  We can change the way we live life, we can become proactive where we have been reactive.  It should also encourage Petr. He will have to ride home Slurpee-less every day this week.

More analogies from soccer

I brought up the boy’s soccer before, but I wanted to dig a little deeper.  There is something else I see when I watch the boys playing.  I see a microcosm of the way most people live their lives. There are some who go out and try to make something happen, but most of them are just waiting for something to happen.  They are reactive rather than proactive.

We were talking about life with some people the other day and one of them said something to the effect of, “I really do not make any decisions, my life is dictated to me.”  Now if they had been a teenager or an E1 I might not think much of it, but this was a middle aged adult.

You are the captain of the ship of your life.  Admiral God has given you some orders.  You can either carry them out, or you can complain about the wind blowing this way and the current from that way.  A large percentage of the people I meet, from all parts of the world, are of the throw up the hands variety – “What could I do?”

This is not the kind of life I see being advocated in the Bible. Gird up the loins of your mindBe ready for every good work. Set your minds on things above. If I perish, I perish. …will not allow you… beyond what you are able. Thoroughly equipped for every good work. Walk in the Light as He Himself is in the LightI can do all things…

Is your world driving you, or are you driving your world?

Lessons from Soccer

Almost all the soccer I watched in the last 3 years was either the World Cup, Real Madrid or some of the English Premier league.  When I watch them play, and these are some of the best players in the world, I sometimes get frustrated with their bad decisions or physical errors they make.

Last Saturday the boys had their first real games for AYSO.  We had been at Lake Powell the week before so they missed a couple of games.

Andrej played first, he is 6 and playing on a U7 team.  Watching a bunch of 6 year olds play can be a little frustrating.  However, almost all of them seem like they are having fun, and the game resembles very little of what I am used to watching.  Andrej did well, he has a defender’s mentality.  It reminds me a little of how my brother played.  When Andrej was striker for the last quarter he kept tracking back on defense.  Even after his mom said she would buy him a slurpee every day of the week if he scored!

Petr’s game came after lunch.  For an 8-year-old, he has a really good head for the game.  He is almost always in the right place and keeps his head up looking for where to pass the ball.  However, he does not seem to have any passion for it.  His head is in the game, but not his heart.  I had to exercise a lot of self-restraint in letting the coach coach and stay silent on the sidelines.  As Cammy and I were discussing it during the game she said, “I am sure this is how God feels when He sees us living our lives.”

Another great lesson from life learned by parenting.  How often are we doing many of the right things, being in the right place at the right time, only to have no passion to “go get it,” as we are supposed to?  Another opportunity to excel passes us by. A chance to be a part of something great.  Praise Him who has more patience and self-restraint than I do.

Petr really did well, and in the last quarter he was playing left midfield.  He was at the back post on every run forward, perfectly positioned for a cross.  One did come his way and he had a good shot forcing the keeper to parry it just outside the post.  If only he was more confident with his left foot, the whole right side of the goal was open…(Yes, I am looking in the spiritual mirror as I say that…)