Wednesday, February 17, 2021

AFTER our previous win on Wednesday, recovery was our main concern. It is key if you want to consistently play at a high level. When you are training every day except one rest day, you have to treat your body with care. I spent the following day getting very light touches on the ball for about 30 minutes, then went inside to foam roll and get my muscles massaged.

Ahead of our game on Sunday against the University of South Alabama (Seven-time Sun Belt Conference winners), we were eager to get on the field again. We had some trouble with some positive cases of COVID-19 during the week, knocking out three players that were eligible to play (including two of our starting centre backs) from the team sheet. A situation like this means that other players on our team had to step up to the challenge. This meant that training was competitive and, at such quality, I had yet to see before this week.

Blessing Kingsley and Southern Miss enjoyed a hard fought 1-0 win over University of South Alabama last week

My day began at 8am (much later than the usual 5.30am). We had our team meal at 10.30am, where the atmosphere was relaxed then we headed to our home pitch to spend some time getting ready in the dressing room. Teams like South Alabama are frequently given too much respect in their conference. They notably are not used to teams going head-to-head with them, but little did they know that we were going to do just that!

It was a cold and slightly windy start, but that did not faze both teams. I was on the starting line-up, playing right-wing. We started very strong, whipping in multiple crosses on the right side. They were not expecting the pressure as we started on the front foot. During the beginning of the half, I was moved from the right-wing to the attacking midfield, playing in the 10. I have had very little experience playing in this position but, I was sure that if my team communicated to me well, and I focused on being creative on the ball while keeping it simple, then I would be just fine. In the 35th minute, a beautiful team goal was produced, working the ball from one end to the other. A very technical midfielder, Jenny Caracheo, was the goal scorer. We were now 1-0 up. As the half progressed, it was pretty level pegging, with both teams ending with 50% possession.

The second half dragged on like you could expect any game would when you’re 1-0 up. Our opponents tried and tried to get in the game, but we kept pushing them back at every opportunity, thus slowing down their momentum. Near the end, there was a goal-line scramble in our box, luckily, we cleared it away. Finishing the game with a 1-0-win, a result that was well deserved.

This week, our team showed character, courage and accountability. Even though we had a bump in the road with missing out on two of our starting players, we all stepped up to the mark. Some of us (including me) had to play in positions we’ve never professionally played in before. During the game, we attacked and most importantly, defended, with our whole hearts. We left everything on the field. When you play with that much passion, it doesn’t matter if you are playing a team that has won their conference seven times or a team that can’t string a pass together, you’re destined to win.

By Blessing Kingsley

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