Oct. 19, 2004
Welcome to BaylorBears.com's fourth entry of "The 91st Minute with April Robertson," a weekly journal throughout the soccer conference season by the senior midfielder. Join Robertson each week as she takes fans behind the scenes of the 2004 Baylor soccer team and shares her take on last week's game, this week's opponent and more.
Robertson, a senior from Round Rock, Texas, has played in every game for Baylor throughout her career and is a two-time academic all-conference selection. During her career, she has scored nine goals, three for game-winners and has also added seven assists.
Check back often on BaylorBears.com for all of the latest news and stats on Baylor soccer and look for "The 91st Minute with April Robertson."
COLORADO AND NEBRASKA
As I climbed onto the bus at 5:30 Thursday morning, I realized this weekend would be my last full, regular Big 12 Conference season road trip. It has been hard all season throughout all of the "lasts" that have come and gone: the last time we will have the feeling of finishing pre-season fitness, last time we will play certain teams, last time to start Big 12 season play...these lasts have caused me, (Kristin) Ruef, and Ginny (Rosario-Tull) to look back and remember the three years we experienced these moments previously. It's been a long road and this weekend had become one of the final forks.
We flew into Colorado with all the warm clothes we could find, checked into another hotel, and hit the practice field. After practice we had some lunch and tried to get some studying done. Friday morning was clear and crisp; however, as we ate our pre-game meal, the clouds began to roll in. As we pulled up to the field Friday afternoon the rain was coming down fairly steadily as the temperatures were dropping. I think that our team averaged about four layers of clothing during warm-up, which came off little-by-little, in order to acclimate so as to be prepared to play at full speed in shorts and short-sleeved jerseys by the time the whistle blew.
This was the fourth out of six weeks of Big 12 play, and we were coming down to the wire. Each team is scraping for points, the standings changing the rank of the teams every weekend. By the end of the first half we were up one goal, and we huddled excitedly beneath a tent in order to stay as warm as possible. Despite the weather, things were looking good until around the 75th minute of the game when CU was given a penalty kick to tie it up. We continued playing, knowing we needed another goal to pull out a win; but, in the end, they were able to score one more unanswered goal to win.
It was a long, cold, van ride back to the hotel through 5:00 p.m. Boulder traffic; but, as we returned to the hotel and warm showers, we knew that we could not dwell too long on the loss, for the next morning would bring another flight to another state, and another competitor.
Thankfully, Lincoln brought much nicer weather. Saturday was spent at the hotel. A group of us gathered in one room checking all the scores and standings from Friday and their implications on our post-season hopes. We calculated all the possible outcomes in order to figure out whether or not we still had a chance to make it to the Big 12 Tournament. The answer that we came up with was that we HAD to win our next three games, that's all there was to it.
Sunday morning I awoke with complete focus. I knew ahead of me lay the game that could potentially end my senior year short; or, extend my, and all of the senior's soccer careers, just a bit farther. These are the types of games that you live for. What kept running through my head was, "I don't want to go out this way."
At 1:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon the whistle began what was to be one of the longest games of my career. Nebraska is known for their aggressive, direct offensive style, and they lived up to that reputation. On full attack, we absorbed run after run at our defensive line. Perhaps it was nerves that left us a bit on our heels, but the Cornhuskers marked two goals in that first half.
However, Anna Shuch scored one goal before halftime that kept our hope alive. During halftime, I knew I and the other seniors could possibly be 45 minutes away from missing the Big 12 Tournament, a thought that made me physically sick. We looked into each others' eyes and saw what we believed was enough to win this game. We went into that second half to win. No longer on our heels we worked the ball through the midfield and began testing their keeper. Tiffany (Boshers) scored the tying goal, and the adrenaline began to surge. Every player on that field was fighting an individual battle in their position every minute of the game. Our spirit went up again as Tiffany (Boshers) scrambled for another great goal to put us ahead; the win in sight. Unfortunately, a Nebraska midfielder was able to spring through and mark one more to tie the game once again, 3-3.
A complete team effort was proven even further as Gentry Sharp came in off the bench to score our fourth goal of the game to put us ahead by one. As the clock began to wind down we continued saying to each other, "Find it within yourself! This is our game!" As if more drama was needed, with 1 minute and 23 seconds, Ginny (Rosario-Tull), my fellow senior, and one of our captains, went up in the air with the goalie in an attempt to score and came down screaming. The trainer came out first, and then the EMS, as the word was passed on that they thought that her leg was broken. It was gut wrenching to know that she was in so much pain, as well as the fact that she most likely wouldn't be able to finish out her senior year. As the stretcher and ambulance were brought onto the field, we brought the team together to look at that clock and the last minute and a half that was keeping us from this win. We were exhausted, but we had to get this win for Ginny.
Finally, after almost 10 minutes of nervous jogging and stretching, play resumed with Nebraska in possession of the ball. We marked tight, fought and scratched for every ball until those final seconds ticked off the clock.
An exhausted sigh of relief and overwhelming joy hit me as I ran to hug teammates. What a feeling! We knew that we had to pull this out and we had truly come together as one unit, everyone playing for each other, and beat a top 25 team on their home field. We were keeping our post-season hopes alive. The van ride was full of chatter as each teammate called family and friends to share the news. These are the games that I will remember long after my soccer career has ended. These are the feelings and experiences that make all of the hard work and sacrifices worth it.
We have an important weekend once again. Though a non-conference game on Friday, we will use the Northern Colorado game to prepare for another must-win game against Missouri on Sunday. We will miss Ginny, and appreciate and love her for giving all that she had on the field every game that she played.
We cannot wait to see all the fans there on Sunday (against Missouri) as we take the field for the last time at home, playing in one of the most important games of my career! Thanks for all of your support!