Tulsa Union High School proved to be one Tulsa too many for the Grissom Tigers. We lost a body-bruising 2-1 tussle in the final of the Island Cup Invitational tonight. Union, ranked #1 in the state of Oklahoma, was by far the best squad that we’ve played this year. It took us a while to adjust to a team that was just as quick or even quicker to the ball than we were, and in the beginning they were winning most of the 50-50 balls and pinning our defense on their heels with their aggressive, pressing attack.
But by midway through the first half, we had found our legs and launched a few dangerous forays of our own. We were 0-0 at the half, and we welcomed the chance to catch our breath against a very fit and athletic team. About 5 minutes into the second half, we drew first blood, as defensive midfielder Adam Segewitz finally created a sliver of space near the 18, just enough to slot the ball past a lunging Union keeper.
It is a well-known fact of soccer that one of the most dangerous times in a match are the first few moments after a team has scored; there is always the danger of enjoying the goal a little too much and easing off defensively. The Union strikers proved that old axiom to be true as they took the kickoff and drove the ball straight down the middle, combining nicely inside the box for the equalizer before we even had a chance to relish our score.
The two teams then traded possessions and attacks until the Union attacking midfielder launched a wicked topspin shot from 25 yards out that arched over our keeper’s outstretched fingertips and then dived beneath the crossbar for what would prove to be the winning score.
All in all, it was a hard fought physical affair that will hopefully serve us well as we seek to improve our decision-making under the fire and pressure of quality squads and move toward the state tournament in May. Congratulations to a fine Union team for a match well-played. The series now stands at 1-1. Perhaps next year, the two teams can both return for the rubber match.
Fine soccer, great seafood, white sand, the soothing rhythm of ocean surf and a room with a view; believe me, there are worse ways to spend a weekend.