Monday, November 23, 2009

Roar Women Dodging a Hubristic Bullet (BR v AU 2:2)

Hubris: excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

What the definition doesn't say is, "eventually it gets you." Many times as I'd marveled admiringly at how well the Brisbane Roar women have done for so long, a little voice - the classically trained part of my brain I guess - said, "It's only a matter of time." The principle isn't just that success can't last forever, which of course it can't. It's that with continuing success, eventually, inevitably, there comes a time when you let your guard down, when you take your success for granted, when, however unconsciously, you assume that you are inherently better, and that your superiority exists regardless of vigilant training, effort and concentration.

I heard that little voice at various times during the week. I realised I was guilty myself! How could the champions lose against a bottom-of-the table team who haven't won a game all season and have only scored three goals in seven games? Impossible! A friend of the team noted that this might be the Roar's chance to beat the W-League scoreline record of 6:0! In the language of hubris, that is very dangerous talk, but how could I disagree?

So how could they be down by two goals after 25 minutes?

Clearly they thought they had the game in the bag and dropped their guard. Brooke Spence, such an experienced, tough and hard-working part of the Roar's formidable defense, was out with a broken foot. Sure there's depth to replace her (in Pam Bignold as it happened), but any adjustment can have teething problems, and the coach apparently decided to throw even more caution to the wind by giving the second keeper, who to my knowledge has never played a game at this level, a chance. Now I mean no disrespect to Kate Stewart, but especially in the disastrous first period she was showing her inexperience and I daresay Casey would have stopped the first goal. Her distribution also took some time to get confident. I can't blame her. What could anyone expect?

Up front the ever-present Beutel was also left off the squad. I could be wrong but it looks like the coach thought he'd 'try some things out' against the easy-to-beat team.

But that's not all. In the first half the spectators were treated to a mess, especially compared to the purring machine we have seen before. I suspect the girls wouldn't mind me saying this because they must know it's true. There were mistakes all over the park, desperate long forward kicks to nowhere, easy dispossessions, air-kicks. I have a nasty theory.

Half these girls live on the Gold Coast. Their average age is about 19 or 20. Schoolies week started on... Saturday night. My imagination has a conversation running something like this...

"One more drink eh?"
"No way. We have a game tomorrow night."
"Ha! It's Adelaide. We'll be right."


Full credits to the come back. First a glorious individual effort from Tameka Butt, cutting straight through the middle of Adelaide's defense to slot past the keeper one-on-one. In the second half we started seeing the lovely passing again, the complex combinations and the skill. Claire Polkinghorne deserves special mention for her constant work, often single handedly ending an Adelaide attack and then making a play in the same sequence. She is fantastic to watch.

It was the rallying come-back, showing buckets of discipline and mental strength, that dodged the bullet. The Brisbane Roar girls remain undefeated, but only just. Possibly it's a lesson at the perfect time, with two road games to go and then the finals rounds.

The two games away to come, against Perth and Newcastle, are easy on paper. I don't doubt for a second the Roar can win both of them, but not if they think they can't lose.

After all that, I must say I had a great evening as usual, and to top it off, I asked Casey Dumont to sign my W-League shirt. She did much better and brought it around to the whole team. Thanks so much girls. I'll treasure it and, risking hubris myself, hope to be wearing it to the grand final.




Blogger john said...

It is only because you watch so many A-L games Hamish. I expect the Roar women to win every week.

November 23, 2009 8:20 pm  

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