Monday, July 8th, probably won’t go down in history for the events that unfolded on the Westmount Park fields between 6:30 and 8:30 PM; but, it will go down as a first for Westmount Soccer Club. Let’s start at the beginning…
The day started like any other Monday would for the coaches: wake up and check the weather. Let’s make sure we are prepared for Montreal’s emotional skies; luckily, Zeus was not scheduled for an appearance. Team Managers get the “go” from their coaches and begin sending the reminders for arrival: “Good Morning, remember to be at the field 30 minutes before kick-off to warm up” and “Please remember to check the snack schedule to know if you are in charge of half-time snacks today” and “Some parents need someone to pick up their daughters, can we get a volunteer carpool?” Without them, no one arrives on time or at all. Our players start the morning with a nutritious breakfast, pack their bags, and off to camp. Their only task during the 28-degree day? Hydrate. Parents start off checking the Team Stuff app to make sure the game is still a “go” and begin communicating with the Team Managers, all the while making that nutritious breakfast we spoke about and packing the bottles of water in their daughter’s bags to ensure they are ready for the evening game. Let the day begin.
6:00 PM: our under eleven (U11) team is arriving to the field. Their coach, dressed in black (always) is preparing the game sheet and logging into TSI Sports to get the player cards ready. 7 players are there on time out of the12 expected. Her heart begins to race; we need substitutes on this hot day. She calls her team in, gets them paired up and begins their warm-up routine: “Focus ladies, first to the ball, communicate, and mark up!” 5 more players trickle in by 6:10.
6:10 PM: The corner flags are in, the retreat line identified, and the parents have already started: “Focus ladies, let’s go Westmount!” Their hearts begin to race, but none as fast as the coach.
6:20 PM: a text from the under thirteen (U13) coach to the U11 coach: “We had one more player available to play tonight, we are starting with 11; you can send the call-ups before our first half ends at 7:30.” Relief. What you didn’t know is that our U13 girls team is scheduled to play at 7:00 PM on the main field, and they were going to be short-handed with 10 players. The coaches had decided to send one of the U11 girls before their first half was done to join the U13 team. Then another player was going to go before the U13 first half ended. Leaving the U11 team with one substitute for the last ten minutes of their game.
6:25 PM: “CAPTAINS” – Olivia goes to represent Westmount. We start with the ball and the sun is at our backs.
6:30 PM: The whistle blows. And so it begins.
At the same time, the U13 team is arriving to the main field, beginning their warm-up for 7:00 PM kick-off. The girls are having fun: “What did you do today?” “How was camp?” “Have we played this team?” “Coach can I go forward today?” It is all fun and games, but there has to be some give, the coaches start their warm-up: “Focus ladies, it is a hot one today and we are starting with no substitutes” – hearts are racing. At 6:55 PM Cheering is heard in the distance, someone scored in the U11 game, but who? Home or Away? Reality hits, “CAPTAINS!” And so it begins on the main field.
6:55 PM: The coaches are yelling, the parents are yelling, and the girls are playing: “First to the ball Westmount” – “Keep it up Emily!” – “Ladies, look at your positioning!” – “REF WATCH THE ELBOWS” – “Move to the right Lara” – it is all over the map, the coaches are discussing how at half-time they need to remind the girls to play their positions, the transition from the small field to the big field for the girls this year has been tough for them and for the coaches, but they are always improving. The ball goes in the net…our net. The U11 girls are regrouping after that goal against them. From half they get into their positions again and begin: a solid give and go from Keri to Lorena, and Marley is in the mix, she gets the ball, she kicks it up; Lola is there. With speed and intensity, she runs toward the ball, passes their midfield, then their forward, it is her and the net and 1 minute left in the half. The whistle blows: someone scored on the U13 field.
7:00 PM: It’s half time on the U11 field; and it is 1-1. In case you missed it, Lola scored. The coaches come together over the oranges and apples provided by Lara’s family: “Girls, our positioning needs to be prioritized for second half, when we yell “regroup” become aware of where you are on the field and adjust.” Smiles is all you find on their faces; they don’t care about the score. They are just playing their game and having fun while doing it – the coaches remember to reel their competitive nature back in, “Ladies, you are playing really well out there, great passing, and awesome hustle; keep it up.” Stefania and Lola are preparing to be taken off the field by 7:30 to go to the U13 team as a call up, nervous, but excited.
7:05 PM: The game is back on and one thing is clear: The U11 girls are hustling today: Caili up the wing, Keri cutting in, awesome give and go, Lola and Riley hustling, Stefania strong on defence, Emily & Lara are titans on the wings, Leni lets nothing go through and Olivia cannot be stopped. It happens so quickly: Our keeper Romy kicks the ball up, a winger takes it up, give, go, give, go, cross to the middle, Riley is there… “Coach!” – Stefania is calling her coaches: “don’t forget to sub me on time to go play in the U13 game!” – “Focus on the game you are in Stefania!” – her heart in the perfect place, between playing with her team and wanting to grow as a player and play with the older girls; they both laugh, “don’t worry Stefania, we will get you there on time.” Riley shoots, Riley Scores. The crowd goes wild.
7:25 PM: The visitor are in our end for ten minutes straight and our goal keeper, who recently came back from Europe is jet lagged, so it feels like midnight for her and has also played tennis for five hours today, but is playing the game of her life. They shoot, she saves. They shoot. She saves. She kicks, we run, we are tired, they shoot, she saves. She calms the game with every save, her players start to pick up the pace, their hearts more motivated with every save Romy makes. “REF SUB” – Stefania is taken off the field. “Great game Stefania, go to the U13 game, we will be over later to watch.”
7:30 PM: The whistle has blown five times over on the U13 field. The girls are tired on both teams, each team with only 11 players, but they are each holding their own, digging deep, making it a game. It’s 3-1 Westmount, Julia, Isobel and Natalia each with a goal. It’s a passing game today, not a running one; this is how soccer players adapt to the heat: strategy and positioning. It is working on both fields today.
They see Stefania approach the field: Relief. The coaches make their first substitute of the game. Stefania is back on the field, it is bigger and it is taller, but she is centre defence and that can’t matter to her. 5 minutes after, in the distance they hear “REF SUB – LOLA.” Relief. Another one is on the way.
7:37 PM: The whistle blows. U11 has won their first game of the season. The crowd goes wild. They run to their goalie, line up to shake hands, and then the real magic happens. Parents line up and the girls from both teams go to high-five their spectators, and as our visitors approach the bench, they hear a faint sound that gets louder and louder: “MRO, MRO, MRO, MRO” Our girls make a tunnel of sportsmanship and our visitors run through, make their own tunnel, and begin their chant: “WESTMOUNT, WESTMOUNT, WESTMOUNT” – and it is there where the magic is clear: no one cares about the score, they had fun, and both teams leave smiling.
It is all quick at this point: “Great work ladies, get your popsicles, and let’s go cheer on our U13 girls on the main field.”
7:40 PM: Stefania and Lola are both on the field, it is the second half and everyone is tired. Visitors take a shot on net, instinctively our players cover their chests: hand ball. Penalty kick visitors. She shoots, she scores. 3-2.
Then it becomes a blur, the ball is at half, Isobel to Eden, Eden to Angel, Julia kicks it up, one touch, two touch, Ella with the epic pass up the wing and then there is cheering. Lola scores. 2 goals. 2 separate games.
7:45 PM: Player down. She goes off the field. Spectators worry, players regroup, and coaches now have one substitute. “Ice, do we have ice?” Luckily, a first aid kit is found, ice pack procured, and it is confirmed: “her hand got stepped on, it is swollen, but no broken bones, she is okay!” Relief all around.
7:55 PM: She shoots, she scores again. Julia with her second goal of the game. 5-2 Westmount.
8:05 PM: “Has this ever happened before? Where both girls team win in one night, both home games?” Asks a parent. Never.
8:15 PM: The whistle blows.
July 8th, 2019: it won’t be remembered for long and it won’t get its own Wikipedia page, but on July 8th, parents cheered, players smiled, and our community came together; as far as we are concerned, that is a win, no matter the score.