An unusual Wednesday night, in the far away Nivelles, the Ladies II of FC Irelande confronted R.S.C Nivelles – a postponed game. Was it the infrastructural labyrinth of changing rooms? The different circumstances of the strategic briefing or the warm-up before the game? Or just a general rather tired squad in the mid-week? Who knows?
The game started off strong however, only in the 7th minute the assist of Magda (thank you for helping us out) created a beautiful chance for Francesca, and yes, she scored. The whole team was so happy, but also knew they had to keep concentrated. A substantial proportion of bad luck caused us trouble. Two minutes after our goal, the attack of R.S.C. Nivelles arrived in the penalty area on our side of the pitch, provoked a hand ball, and it was a penalty. The goal keeper of R.S.C. Nivelles took the penalty cleanly, it was 1-1. For the remaining time of the first half, R.S.C. Nivelles rarely constructed a game, but neither did we, even though we had a solid formation in the defense, middle and attack. The classic trap of ‘playing our own game against a not-so-strong-opponent’ actually affected us. We lacked strength in duels, building and playing together, the will to score.
After an inspiring pep talk of coach Diego, we started the second half of the football game. It has to be mentioned that the referee was not so favourable to us this time either. We always seemed to have our feet off the ground when we threw the ball from the sideline of the field. A couple of aggressive duels and confrontations of the opponent that sometimes remained unnoticed. This impacted the pace and rhythm of the game. A couple of strong and dangerous occasions from our squad made it still dangerous and exciting, was a win in the air? A strong kick from Sephora literally made it almost possible, albeit for a very short time: it was ambiguous whether the ball actually went in the goal – but no.
In the end the game finished 1-1, but it felt like a defeat. But let’s keep our heads up Ladies II, we still have the return match to play, and let’s bring that victory home next time!
On Tuesday, 1 November, FC Irlande Ladies III faced R.C.S. Nivellois A in its first cup match in an away game.
[R.C.S. Nivellois 0 (2) – 0 (3) FC Irlande Ladies III – Ade, AJ, Alex]
From the first few minutes, the match gives us many emotions. Amina has the chance to shoot at the goal from the penalty area; unfortunately, she has the ball on her weaker foot, so for the opponent’s goalkeeper was easier to block the shot with a dramatic save. After a few minutes, Dakota receives a ball in the face, and due to the strong impact, she has to leave the pitch and go to the hospital to check her jaw condition. FCI has another excellent opportunity to score thanks to Sanda’s run on the left-hand side of the pitch, which puts the ball in the middle of the area, but just for some inches, Amina does not reach the ball. The first half finishes 0-0, with FCI showing defensive solidity and offensive initiative.
The second half starts with R.C.S. Nivellois attacking, putting good pressure on FCI’s defence but not creating clear goalscoring opportunities. The rest of the second half is mostly dominated by FCI, with two excellent scoring chances for Sanda and Ade, who, wreaking havoc on the left and right wings, find themselves in the opponent’s box but cannot convert their shots into goals. Marianne also can score thanks to a free-kick from the edge of the box, but her shot ends slightly to the side. In the match’s last minutes, it is again R.C.S. Nivellois to attack, obtaining some corners but not scratching FCI’s defensive wall. The game finishes 0-0, and we go to the penalties lottery.
FCI starts the penalty shootout. The first to take the responsibility to shoot is Antonia. Unfortunately, her shot ends on the side. R.C.S. Nivellois’s goalkeeper takes responsibility for her team’s first penalty, her terrific shot crowds out Olatz, that can do nothing to block it. 1-0 for R.C.S. Nivellois. Ade is the second FCI’s penalty taker and scores without any difficulty. The second opponent’s penalty is kicked too central, and Olatz sends it over the crossbar. 1-1. The third penalty is entrusted to AJ, shot and goal, but the referee has not whistled, and she has to retake the penalty… same calm, same side, same result. FCI is now leading, but R.S.C. Nivellois has to take its third penalty. Olatz touches the ball that goes on the post and finishes in the net. We remain on an even score, 2-2. Marianne goes for the penalty, but her shot goes over the crossbar. Now R.C.S. Nivellois has the chance to lead again, but Olatz stretches on her left and blocks the shot. We remain 2-2. The fifth player to go for the penalty for FCI is Alex, our match’s captain, who perfectly coverts the penalty. Fifth penalty for R.C.S. Nivellois, Olatz hypnotises the opponent who sends the ball high over the crossbar. The match finishes 3-2 for FCI, who obtains its first victory of the season.
What a week for FCI; after our beloved training ball has returned home, we can celebrate our first victory and continue our path in the Coupe De Brabant. It was an epic game with lots of fights, changes and emotions that we managed to control and lead to the hoped results.
This was probably our best match of the season, not only for the final result but because it was the first match in which we created more goalscoring changes than the opponent, using in multiple occasions our wings, we had more control over the circulation of the ball, and we did not concede any significant offensive occasion to the other team. This was our first victory, and, for sure, it will not be the last. We keep on improving every week, and the results are starting to come. This match will be an excellent bust for our next games and an incredible motivation to train and work even harder.
A huge thank you to L1 and L2 players (Olatz, Marianne, AJ and Ade), who were fundamental for the victory and took the responsibility to shoot the penalties.
This victory is especially for Dakota, who has to go to the hospital after being hit by the ball. Fortunately, nothing’s broken, so we will see her soon on the pitch.