A rainy, muddy, ugly weekend …

That pretty much sums it up. When it wasn’t raining and gloomy, it was muddy and ugly.

So, as the earlier posts hint at, late Friday night after a week of thinking we had a full travel side for our game in Minneapolis Saturday, we had a flurry of last-minute bail outs that knocked our roster down to 11. That plus a young college player (Thanks Erinn Lund!) who thankfully just finished her finals and moved back home to Madison for the summer to give us 12. 12 as you might know is not 15.

We easily could’ve called up and said, sorry, we’re not driving up for a spring friendly match five hours away with only 12 players. It would’ve been very easy to do so and it was suggested more than once. But we don’t roll like that. 12 is one of those cusp numbers … not enough to play but just enough to not cancel. So we made some calls to some friends and former teammates for possible extra players and crossed our fingers, then got up early for the long drive northwest on I-94.

We made it all the way to the Twin Cities still down to just 12, then found out our pals on the Valkyries had two players for us right before we got to the field (Thanks Kate Turpin!). Up to 14. And that is what we got ready to play with. 14. So things we’re okay. 14 is always better than 12. And the Valk players were great. Mike, a scrappy flanker that dug in and helped out a lot, and a nice fullback with good hands, speed and a nice stiff arm (Sorry, I never caught your name fullback). And the sun was actually out. And the field didn’t look half bad. And we had a few friends on the sidelines. Including this cute guy I made out with once (Hi Mike!), but let’s leave that off the blog …

So we line up for kickoff … and the rain begins as the whistle blows. A few drops at first. Not horribly cold rain. But a full and steady rain that would stop and start as the game played on. And helps you get nice and muddy and slide all over. And the mud began to ooze into my shoes, socks, shorts, sports bra and let’s not forget the mud I found in my eyes, ears, hair and mouthguard. Yum.

Ahh … but this is no big deal. For we have played down a player and we have played in the rain and we have played after five hours of driving. And I was finally going to be a scrumhalf and that wasn’t even in my head too much. To quote a new favorite movie of mine, Wedding Crashers, “No Excuses! Play Like A Champion!”.

So, we did. Well, we tried. We got out there and kept playing and kept coming back. Our team collectively just didn’t do very well. Individual players did well. There were several bright spots. But bright spots do not a big bright game make.

And we got scored on. And the other team took advantage of their overload and kicked a lot (correction – kicked all the time) and scored some more. That poor Valkyrie fullback ran her ass off. But no excuses.

I could blather on about all the things we could’ve, should’ve, would’ve done. Or talk about the frustration we had at traveling all the way up there despite being short on players for a non-league friendly to see the other team have six subs or more on the sideline. But then we should have a larger roster, so in the end, there’s no point. No excuses.

After our game, we all walked up to a park shelter, attempted to clean up and get the mud off. I had gotten pretty bruised and battered in the game (bum shoulder, some nice cleat marks, pretty bruises and a badly sprained thumb that happened in the first five minutes (I think it just got completely bent backwards) but thankfully did not break!). We watched the Menagerie play the Valks and although most of us wanted to drive home right then, we all stuck around and went to the third half. Which ended up being great to see some old friends like Ham, Kate, Mary McNeil and an old college friend Trie. And my favorite cereal is Lucky Charms. And I was a bizzo and went up for seconds on the pasta and bread. I was starving though and it would’ve been nice if there was some more food. Okay, I actually had thirds on the bread, but since I shared with Goose and Ham, again don’t care. 🙂

Oh and Ham, thank you for the very funny stories which are completely not bloggable. “This one time … “

So, yeah, I can talk about my own game though … I thought about it this morning and I would give myself a C-plus as a scrumhalf for Saturday. Just slightly better than adequate.

The curse of being a utility player like I have become is that you can play almost every position, but I’m not sure I’m getting good at one specific position. So I knew what a scrumhalf was supposed to do and I know where I’m supposed to stand (except one scrumdown … I was on the wrong side and then had to run around) and I can definitely catch and pass the ball. And I understand the calls and I mostly remember to stay out of the rucks and the mauls and tell the forwards standing around watching to get in the rucks and mauls … but in the end, it was still my first game playing scrumhalf since some very clueless attempts in college. My saving grace is that I know the game overall. After 11 years, I would hope so.

At points, I was told to play more like a forward and get in there. Other times, I was told to stop getting in there so much because if I was in, nobody was grabbing ball (we have some hesitant forwards). At the end, I stopped listening and thinking and just played. But I think I figured it out a little more by the end (can you stop thinking and just be?). And I might have another shot this Saturday. I actually do like the position a little. Although I do miss the rucks in the forwards and I did like some of the open runs again in the backline. But I got a few of each of those this weekend, so yeah.

I’m pretty sure (okay, I am sure) I need to be more of a forward when it’s just me and Pinkie running a No. 8 pick or on really loose run & gun play, like we tend to do with Pinkie and Goose all a blaze on the run. But then I need to be the communicator, or just stop being such a ditz and just dig the damn ball out. So one game for spring left this weekend at home. And I need to also stop being lazy and tackling high. It took me a good half of the game to drop where I was supposed to be. Again … just stop thinking and play the game.

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