Wallonia Club Sibret A
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Going into our first home game, the FCI ladies were pumped and ready after an effervescent talk from the coaches and an efficient warmup. Our opponents hailed from Wallonia, and they seemed to mean business despite the questionably bright warmup T’s. Pitch conditions were exceedingly pleasant; a bit of sunshine, but not too intense thankfully. As spectators and players alike began wondering if the match would ever start, we were joined by a bombastic ref who basically delivered a sermon about a clean, no-nonsense game. Cue the start of the match!
Opening minutes against Sibret were very rough-and-tumble; it became clear it would be a fight from start to finish. Olatz made several saves early on, which she continued to do with dogged persistence throughout. A stellar performance from Michelle in the back, outrunning and outsmarting almost every attacker with incredible composure and dare I say elegance? Sarah and Caro flanked the wings as we tried our best to pull wide and avoid the opponent’s annoyingly persistent preference for long balls.
Fast-forward a few plays and things started to get a bit more heated. More fouls were called, several against our captain Sophia, who did an excellent job of shutting them down in the midfield. Louise kept up the pressure as well, relentlessly attacking Sibret in the middle and taking a couple of nasty spills in the process. With Juliette leading up top and ducking back to create opportunities for our midfield, we tried to press and hold our shape.
Coming in strong from the back, Isabel and Caro had a few chances down the left side that ended with the ball hovering around the opponent’s box. Sadly, we were unable to put it away, squandering some well-timed passes and through balls. To add salt to the wound, we let one in near the end of the half, bringing the score to 0-1 at halftime.
Intermission! Some strong words of encouragement from our coaches, lots of hydration, and a bit of banana to add fuel to the fire. A few changes were made for the second half, and we returned to the pitch.
Right back at it went the ladies in green, trying to keep up the energy on our home field. Sibret didn’t give an inch, becoming increasingly aggressive in tackles and in the air. Some amazing interceptions and passes from Sarah down the right wing shifted more of the plays into the opponent’s half.
Looking to even things up, the entire team pushed forward altogether which allowed Isabel to launch a perfectly timed throw to Mel down the left side. She managed to get it over to Sarah blazing in from the right. The result? A penalty kick in the box due to a defensive handball.
After a perfect penalty thanks to Sophia’s calm-under-pressure precision, the score was even, 1-1. Sara continued hustling their attackers in defense, and Clelia gave it her all before Marriane came on at right back. She immediately stole a pass from a rather dumbfounded attacker, and FCI took back the momentum momentarily. Rebecca rushed on to add some much-needed intensity and muddled their offense for good measure.
Not to be outdone, Sibret unfortunately acquired a series of well-paced attacks resulting in another goal for the opposition in grey. Even so, Olatz was all over their shots, even when the opposing striker came too close for comfort, legs flailing dangerously close to her face. Michelle kept up the pressure in the back, stopping several dangerous runs in a row. Cintia added some strong support on the left, looking for those through balls up to our offense. So, the opposing forces had been a “tad rough” as they say, and a few ladies in green decided enough was enough. Pretty sure Louise took three tackles in a row along the left sideline…
Done with the borderline hostility and not-so-lady-like shoving, our captain Sophia decided to lead by example by adding some extra weight around the hips of her player as she tried to turn. Some may call it grabbing, but we all know it was entirely accidental; a mere graze. The eagle-eyed ref was quick to gift her the first (official) yellow card of the season.
Even though Sibret snuck in another putting us at 1-3, we tried to keep up our energy and look for open spaces and opportunities. With only a few minutes to spare, FCI attempted several plays down both sides, trying to hit Cintia or Sarah down the line. Isabel got off some beautiful passes, but with everyone’s energy dipping, it proved difficult to secure another goal before the final whistle blew. Final score, 1-3. With heads held high, the ladies in green will be back on the pitch after some rest (and funky beers!) to train for the next game and fight for those points!
*** Note: if you return to check the first letter of each paragraph, you may become privy to a particularly encouraging message.