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The Seconds Before the Champions Emerge By Rachel Tievy

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The Seconds Before the Champions Emerge

By Rachel Tievy

Rachel Tievy soccerPenalty kicks go by in slow motion; the crowd is on their toes, the players feel the pressure on their shoulders, and the goalkeepers tracking the slightest movement to try to save their team.

Both teams are tired after two full halves and over time. The players haven’t had much rest and the tension is already growing. Championships are on the line, and everybody knows that one team will emerge victorious, and the other will walk out, cleats in hand, sweat dripping down their necks, and tears running from their eyes, as they know their best was simply not good enough.

The time has come for the PKs to begin. Each team lines up their top five players and the goalkeepers make their way to the goal. A soccer ball is placed on the penalty dot, and the crowd goes dead silent. Nobody dares to breathe as the first player steps back, planning his shot. The goalkeeper stands on the goal line, bouncing on his toes, ready to explode. Then, the shooter sprints forward and strikes the ball. The goalkeeper dives as far right as he can, launching himself with all the strength he can, trying to cut off the ball as it hurtles towards the goal. His left arm grazes the green grass while his right arm pulls over his head, trying to stop the raging ball from hitting the net. A soft grunt escapes the goalkeeper’s mouth as he hits the ground, and the ball beams ever so slightly to his left, hitting the back corner of the net with a soft swoosh, the sound that brings delight to every field player’s mind.

The shot, the goal, the glory, all happening within a few seconds, yet the blink of an eye, or a fraction-of-a-second hesitation, could be the difference between being a victor and a loser.

I did it! The shooter thinks as he leaps into the air with a mighty thrust of his fist.

No. I let my team down. They are winning, not us; the keeper thinks, disheartened, as he pushes himself off the ground and sighs.

The shot, the goal, the glory, all happening within a few seconds, yet the blink of an eye, or a fraction-of-a-second hesitation, could be the difference between being a victor and a loser.

With every shot, the pressure increases, the champion’s title on the line. First goes in. Second doesn’t. Third does. Fourth goes in as well. Then the final shot, the shooter whips his leg back and the ball races towards the goal. As the ball sails through the air, the goalkeeper leaps into the air, but he doesn’t need to. The ball glides slightly over the cross bar, only for the shooter to collapse to his knees, head in hands, as the opposite team rushes forward to celebrate.

Losing is never fun, but especially when you have worked so hard; all of those sweaty, long, harsh practices, every fighting glory in the season’s games, seems to have all been for nothing in that instant when your opponents erupt in cheers as they thrust their new golden trophy in the air. Silently, the tears stream down your face as you walk off the field to pick up your gear and go home.

Winning however, is fun, extremely fun. Finally, it seems all of those long trainings and practices have been worth it and that everything has paid off, and the trophy goes to show for it.

Seventh grader Rachel Tievy, John Poole Middle School, loves playing goalie on her soccer team.