Friday night, Rae and I attended the Women’s NCAA Quarterfinals Soccer match between the Stanford Cardinal and the Florida State Seminoles. Coming into the game, the Stanford Women’s team was undefeated this year with a record of 21-0-2. They are the prohibitive favorite in this year’s tournament, which concludes in Cary, North Carolina, this week. I remember reading about the loss to undefeated North Carolina last year in the finals, 1-0. I hope this year they can run the table and take home the prize!
Growing up, I played soccer as a kid. I think every boy dreams of being a forward who kicks the game-winning goal. For some reason, my coaches placed me as the goalie for our team. I was not and still am not a very big person, and suffice it to say, I did not do well in my new position. Later, my playing interests switched to baseball, cross-country, tai-chi, ultimate frisbee and cycling. While I didn’t mind watching the World Cup, I never was interested in playing the game soccer.
During my Fellowship year at Stanford, I took an art class with Nicole, who was a goalie for the Stanford soccer team. After graduation, she had gone off to play professionally and on the national team, as well as being an assistant coach to the Stanford team. In fact on Saturday, the national team just won 1-0 against Italy, meaning Team USA gets to go to the Women’s World Cup next year in Germany!
Seeing that Friday was the last game of the season to be played at Stanford, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch. We bought the tickets online, went early to Stanford to visit the Art Museum and the Rodin Sculpture Garden, and waiting in line for 45 minutes before getting some great seats at midfield. Unlike the Men’s Football or Basketball, tickets to other collegiate sporting events are very affordable. We saw many parents with their children and seniors at the event. There were some students, but certainly not as many as you would see at a basketball or football game. The Tree was nowhere to be found either.
Part of me is sad about this. When I was a student, I rarely attended any sporting events. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t do this. Was it because there were other events to go to? Homework to do or papers to write? General laziness and apathy? I kick myself today thinking of all the excitement and drama that I missed in my undergraduate days. I guess there’s nothing like making up for lost time, eh?
As for the actual game, it was tense for the first 30 minutes. Stanford played on the Florida State side of the field for the majority of the game, narrowly missing two goals with shots deflecting off the posts in the first few minutes. When we got our first goal in the 31st minute, the crowd jumped up excitedly to cheer the goal, but also let out a sigh of relief. Our team is ranked number one in the nation, but there’s always that possibility for an upset. With the second, third, fourth, and fifth goals of the game in the second period, I started to think we should save these goals for the semifinals and (hopefully) the finals.
After a long period away from home — with our travels to Australia, Canada and Texas, it’s good to be back home. That said, it’s also good to keep the new experiences coming; it’s easy to get back into the same old routine at home. Going to the game fulfilled one of the promises that I made to Nicole many years ago to attend a soccer game; it also got us out the house to see something new and be with my fellow Stanford compatriots (even Rae, a Cal grad cheered for Stanford). Keep pressing and keep it up! Go Cardinal!