It’s hard to win a championship. Just ask the New York Mets.
By now, you all know the story of the 2015 Amazins. They apparently arrived on the world’s biggest baseball stage a year too early. The team dominated the Washington Nationals, an early World Series favorite, in the regular season and easily won the National League East. The organization made win-now moves, none bigger than acquiring slugger Yoenis Cespedes; that surprised everyone.
They fought hard and outlasted the Dodgers in a dramatic five-game National League Division Series. They dominated in the National League Championship Series against the Cubs, sweeping Chicago in four games.
Then came the World Series. It seemed like the Mets couldn’t lose. It had to be 1986 all over again. Wrong.
The ending was less than storybook as the Royals ended the Mets’ spectacular season in just five games without even bringing the series back to Kansas City. The Mets lack of a bullpen came through on the biggest stage and a few costly defensive mistakes doomed them. The script didn’t end the way it seemed like it should for New Yorkers.
There was a certain buzz in the tri-state area that’s been absent for quite some time but was certainly exciting to experience. However, I dare ask, “Would it have been better if the Mets didn’t even make the playoffs as opposed to losing in the World Series?”
Was this great run of joy followed by the depths of despair all worth it, or would you have rather just gone about your life calmly without baseball in October?
This is an interesting question and there’s no definite answer to it. I will say one thing: There are many ways to get to a championship, but losing once you’ve gotten there hurts all the same.
No one expected Fordham Women’s Soccer to make the Atlantic 10 Championship and come just a couple of bounces away from a NCAA Tournament appearance. A team picked to finish 11th should not finish first on paper, critics would say. But that’s why they play the game and why sports are so entertaining.
With a mix of youth and veteran leadership, the team turned in an exceptional regular season, finishing 12-6-1 and 6-3-1 in the Atlantic 10. With a four match winning streak early in the season, the squad earned the fifth overall seed of eight teams at last week’s conference tournament.
Paired with VCU in their first match of postseason competition, Fordham needed to overcome an early conference season loss to the team on a neutral field in Davidson, North Carolina. They did just that on Brooke Salmon’s first career goal and advanced to take on George Mason the very next day.
Both teams, coming off of thrilling victories, battled to a 1-1 tie through regulation and additional time was needed to determine a winner. Twenty minutes of overtime didn’t do the trick, and it was time for penalty kicks.
It was either win the shootout or go home and have your season come to an end. To make matters even more interesting, penalty shootouts are not done in the regular season. The only similar instances are individual penalty shots as a result of a defensive foul in the attacking 18-yd box. The Rams took care of business in the shootout and moved to the conference final.
It seemed like Fordham had to win. The team was playing its best, or close to its best, soccer of the year and they had all the momentum.
But in the end, the finish fell just short. A 77th minute goal for championship opponent Duquesne put the team down late, and an 85th minute long distance strike doomed the squad. They were outdone by the Dukes, predicted to finish 12th in the conference during the preseason.
The hardest thing of all is to hold your head up high when you find yourself in situations like these, in sports or otherwise.
It’s not easy to get back, but when the Mets and Fordham Women’s Soccer do, the experience of previously having played in a championship atmosphere will surely help. Expect the desire and fire from their championship losses to ignite the Mets and Fordham Women’s Soccer to the same or greater peak next season.
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