I'm kind of shocked when I think about how much soccer I've had on the brain on any given day for the last four years or so. I've written about the FIFA scandals and the World Cup and the Women's World Cup for CNN pretty extensively. My daughter made a travel team last year, which has meant soccer four days a week, fall and spring, with futsal in between. (She scored on Sunday -- did I mention that? A feisty fabulous goal.) I have lived and breathed Lewiston Blue Devils' soccer while writing ONE GOAL.
And then there's Max.
My nephew Max is a junior at Stonington High School and plays soccer for the Stonington Bears. He has worked crazy hard to crawl his way onto the varsity roster of this very competitive team in Connecticut. And last night, in the second round of the state championship tournament, he scored the winning goal.
Max and I talk about soccer a lot. A. Lot. We didn't used to. It was his thing, not mine. On the family vacation in August, he would work on ball-handling skills on the beach while we all sunned and chatted and read; go for long runs to stay in shape while we ate breakfast; and watch EPL games while the rest of us packed our beach bags and made plans for the day. But as I dove deeper into ONE GOAL, Max became my right-hand guy -- my soccer guru. I'd show him game clips to get his reaction to Lewiston's own mad skills, pester him with questions about particular moves, and ask his opinion about different players. He was (mostly) patient with my learning curve.
Earlier this season, I took my daughter to one of Max's games, a long drive that was worth it when he scored his first goal of the season. It was as much fun watching Max as it was watching my sister cheer for him. At last night's game in the state tournament, she took it to the next level.
That's her. Holding a giant photo of Max's head on a stick.
It's been a big soccer week. Lewiston wins states (again). My daughter scores a goal (and calls Max before anyone else to share the news). And now Max scores the winning goal to lift the Stonington Bears 2-0 over Tolland. They face Ellington next. I hear they're good. But I'm not worried.
"Train keeps rolling," Max texted me last night.