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No Time to ReLAX – 2.21.13

Feb 21, 2013, 3:12 PM EDT

photo by Mike Bennett

Irish senior Emily Conner returns to the blog with her third “No Time to ReLAX” post of the season. This latest entry looks back at the team’s season opener in Palo Alto, Calif.

It ain’t over till it’s over. – Yogi Berra

“This isn’t the way things are supposed to go,” I thought to myself. We were down 7-2 at halftime in our season opener at Stanford. Shots we normally make weren’t falling. Slides we usually had weren’t quite there. And to make matters worse, we could not seem to come up with the draw – arguably the most crucial element of the game. It was not the same team that had seemed so solid during the entire preseason.

When we ran into the locker room at half, we all knew it was a crucial moment for our team. If we went in feeling defeated, we had no shot at a comeback. If we took the perspective of baseball legend Yogi Berra, we still had a chance to come out of this game with a W. Luckily, the whole team seemed to understand the importance of attitude, and when we walked back out after halftime, we had confidence. I heard someone say, “Smile! We’ve got this!” It wasn’t what I’d expected to hear after the way we’d been playing, but it was exactly what we all needed to hear. “We’ve got this…”

As the second half began, there was no question in my mind that we were going to leave California with a victory. The whole team seemed to have the same mindset, and everyone went to work. The bench was loud, our defense was disruptive and our offense started to, in Chris [Halfpenny]’s words, “rip twine.” We saw eight different scoring threats and some key plays from our freshmen. Everyone came together and did their part, and it made all the difference.

Every time the ball was down on offense, I kept thinking of the lyrics to Aaliyah’s hit, “Try Again” (side note: I have a ‘90s playlist continuously going on in my head). In this case, the lyrics were actually relevant: “If at first you don’t succeed, then dust yourself off and try again.” We made the necessary adjustments and just kept trying, over and over again. We missed some shots, but every time we got the ball back and went at it. Everybody’s combined effort paid off, and we walked away with a 12-10 victory over a very strong Stanford team.

After the game, some parents complained about us giving them high blood pressure with all the close games we’ve had over the years (though personally I think they should be blaming the buffalo chicken dip that gets devoured at every tailgate – thanks Mrs. Shawhan!). While I wish we could blow out every team and let our coaches and parents rest easy, the close games are what distinguish each season. They test us as individuals and ultimately define us as a team.

This all goes back to a point that our coach harped on for the five weeks of preseason; with so many strong personalities, it’s almost impossible to summarize a group of 31 individuals. Still, what sets good teams apart is their ability to define themselves as a unit. So while we struggled for weeks trying to determine our team identity, it only took one 30-minute half to figure out who exactly we are together. What’s more, it was only the first game of the season: The rest of our opponents had better watch out.

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