Commentary: The Litter Box; Capital soccer exemplifies High School Sports!

paulb

5/6/16

Larry

 

“The Litter Box” Scott Neuville is the reason for sports in High School

 

Larry the SportsCat

(Katlama, WA) The Capital Cougars had an extremely important match to play on Thursday night against Lincoln. If they won they would clinch the Narrows 3A League Title over their nemesis Central Kitsap, if they lost or even tied CK would take the top spot. By the way with that Championship comes an automatic birth to the State Tournament, their District games are for seeding purposes only. Plus it was Senior night and when you have a team with 13 Seniors this was going to be a special night.

So if you are a Senior and have never turned out for soccer before and there is a boat load of experienced Seniors who intend to make a run not only at league glory but put a dent in the State Tournament as well you realize your playing time and contribution on the field will be minimal. This is the story of Capital soccer player Scott Neuville.

Coach Andrew Lopez told us after the match that Scott turned out only after the urging of his classmates. He says they got him to turn out for soccer last summer and talked him to trying out for the Cougars. Lopez said honestly his skills were limited but he was good enough to play on the JV team and Lopez recognized that Scott had something else and that was the huge support of all his now teammates.

There is no doubt that the Cougars have extremely skilled players such as Nigel El-Soakkary, Riley Potkanjak and several more. A team like this can go 2 ways they can be jealous of one another and feud with each other splitting the team or they can pull together and understand each other’s role and understand the big vision and that is to win Championships. This Cougar team clearly is example #2 and there was no clearer vision of that than late in last night’s match.

After blowing open a close 2-1 match at the half with 2 goals within the 1st 5 minutes of the 2nd half, then 2 more about 15 minutes later this allowed Coach Lopez to substitute liberally. Everyone got in except Scott. The large crowd was chanting “we want Scott”, players were looking to the bench at Coach Lopez, players volunteering to come out so Scott could get in when he finally made his entrance onto the field.

With about 10 minutes to play and a 6-1 lead the Abes would score their 2nd goal making it 6-2. The expectation was to simply play good defense and run out the clock and everyone would have played and they would qualify directly to State and it would top off a joyous evening. Little did we know there would be quite a finish for the Senior JV player making his 1st appearance in a Varsity game.

Scott Neuville lines up his PK
Scott Neuville lines up his PK

In the 74th minute Capital’s Gabriel Mozipo was on a run and taken down in the box giving the Cougs an unneeded PK but they got it anyway. The 1st thing Mozipo did was put the ball on the PK mark and pointed to Neuville to come take the kick. The entire team, sideline and crowd encouraged Scott to step up, even in the Press Box you could hear Cougar JV players filming the game say “oh my God, Scott’s gonna take the shot”! Now for a little more background, Lopez told us after the game that Neuville had taken a PK once earlier this season in a match. He said he didn’t even look to see if he was supposed to take it, he was fouled stepped up and kicked it. Oh and it was against the same keeper he was about to face, Freshman sensation Gabe Foster was on the JV squad when they first played Lincoln and Foster smothered his shot.

This time magic was in the air as Neuville approached he booted it to the left post, the right of Foster, Foster dove for the ball but it was just out of reach and it caught the inside of the post and rolled in for the goal. The Cougar team exploded, Keeper Sam Bigelow sprinted from his end of the field to get in on the celebration. The sideline and crowd erupted. The sheer joy and happiness Neuville’s teammates and Cougar fans had for him made it truly a moment in time that many will forever remember. It will be one of those things that these players will think of when they are having a hard day and need a smile or good thought. You just think of this moment and can’t help but smile.

Cougs celebrate PK goal
Cougs celebrate PK goal

Logically, it was the 7th goal of a match out of reach in the 74th minute, but emotionally this was one of the biggest lifts I’ve seen a team receive. It won’t surprise me to see this moment propel the Cougs to make a big run through Districts and State.

You know we have been barraged with crappy news surrounding High School sports, ESN works hard to focus on the players and the outcomes and the performances. So in the midst of the Bellevue football scandal, parents complaining, coaches either being asked to leave or fired because of outside pressure this moment is so refreshing. This is what High School sports is about. You can complain about not every kid is getting their ribbon or fair recognition, not every team gets to play in a big stadium or travel or stay in a hotel and eat in a restaurant. For some reason many people believe these are the memories and moments kids are wanting. Guess what? You’re DEAD WRONG!!!! Last night on the regular season field in a regular league game finale, playing a regular season opponent magic was made and the reaction by every single one of the Cougars can never be bought with a team meal at Denney’s.

If the Cougs go on to win the State Championship certainly more memories will be made on this journey they are about to take but this moment with their teammate achieving the unbelievable will not be overshadowed. 25 years from now at their class reunion these guys will gather to talk about this season and regardless of where they finish, the phrase “how about when Neuville scored his goal?” will b e brought up and there will be smiles from ear-to-ear thinking back on a rather normal Thursday night in May of 2016.

There is one other side to this story and that is the Lincoln Abes. It should not go unnoticed how hard they played through the whole game and in fact scored their 3rd goal after Neuville’s PK and they never gave up. Yes, they experienced the disappointment of a loss but they also got to be part of a special moment that they likely won’t forget either. The Abes have a good core of players returning and this very well could lay the groundwork for their own resurgence. These are the reasons why sports are important and why they should always be part of our kids’ educational experience.

Congrats Cougars and good luck in the play-offs and Abes we expect to see you guys make a big run next season. Ok, gang that’s it this time for the SportsCat, get ready for a month of craziness and great performances still to come and ESN with the SportsCat will be there for the ride. Til next time remember, Hugs not Drugs, SportsCat out!

 

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