Oct. 7, 2013
The following is the fifth installment of a biweekly blog that senior Madeline (Maddy) Barker is penning for the Georgia soccer team during the 2013 season. Her blogs will be published exclusively on Georgiadogs.com.
By Maddy Barker
Soccer is a game defined by moments.
There are moments of brilliance, moments of weakness, moments of greatness, and moments that will help shape the way you remember the game for the rest of your life. There are split-second moments in the middle of the game where you must decide if you are going to dig a little bit deeper and track your man who is making a sprint towards your goal. You may be exhausted, but in that moment, can you make the decision to be tougher than your opponent? There are moments when you see the perfect seam open up. Your eyes light up because you know your teammate on the ball sees it as well, and you are about to get the chance to take on the keeper 1-v-1. This season has been filled with moments that have brought tears of joy to my eyes, and also tears of frustration.
I guess that’s the result of possessing the X chromosome. Tears are how I celebrate, how I deal with anger, how I grieve, and sometimes, it’s my response if I think something is extra humorous. This weekend was a whirlwind of moments bringing very different emotions, and it started with our game last Friday night against Alabama. The rollercoaster of emotions began when my roommate and very dear friend, Nicole Locandro, scored a beautiful header goal off a cross from Rachel Garcia that tied the game 1-1 with Alabama. An abundance of emotion – gratitude, thankfulness, and joy – consumed me in that moment. But the joy was short-lived, and was replaced by a moment of defeat when Alabama took another lead on us later in that half. I was hopeful we would come back, and certain our team would find a way. With the help of Emma Sonnett and Laura Eddy, we did find a way. I somehow managed to find the back of the net, and I promise you, I will never forget that moment. Turning around, I saw my own teammates’ eyes filled with tears and a renewed sense of purpose – that is something I have rarely experienced. The emotion I felt, hugging the girls that I love the most, was unlike anything I have ever been a part of. I am confident that a moment like that will not come often, and I will cherish it forever.
Soccer is a cruel game, and sometimes the games that you deserve to win are the ones that you lose. Conversely, imagine how lucky you feel if you happen to steal a win in a game that you are predicted to lose. Like I said, soccer is a game of moments. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, and that can be either beneficial or detrimental. We were on a nine-game winning streak after we beat Missouri, and in an instant, we were down a goal to Kentucky and our streak ended when we couldn’t recover. The last three games have taken their emotional toll, but that is part of the game that competitors like our team have to accept. Passionate people live their lives for the thrill of victory, but we suffer the sting of defeat more deeply than those who aren’t as invested.
Our team is now faced with a challenge. We are faced with adversity and we are given the choice of how to respond. If I know my teammates like I think I do, a leader like Laura Eddy is not going to lie down and give up. An All-American like Torri Allen is not going to lose hope. An SEC defensive player of the week, Caitlin Woody, is not going to allow our season to slip into oblivion. Canadian National Team player Nikki Hill has had her back up against the wall before and emerged stronger for it. No, we will not quit working. Our team is stronger than that. We will take this opportunity, this moment, and seize it, making the decision right now as a unit to find a way to get better and win. We must find a way to bounce back from this. This is the most talented group of girls I have ever had the privilege of playing with, and probably the most passionate for the game as well. We will respond, and we will do so with authority. I love this team and this program, and our season is far from over; with that being said, as a program we must make the most of the moments that have yet to come. We head to Auburn to take on the Tigers on Friday night, and we know that the start of a new streak will begin there.