Along for the ride in a crazy playoff season

It hit me as I roamed the sidelines last Wednesday night covering the WLC/Lisbon girls soccer playoff game. The Warriors were down 2-1 when Tesa Simpson lined up for a penalty kick. She scored, the crowd and players went wild, and something happened to me, too. I was all in.

I’ve never experienced the thrills of a high school postseason run before; most of my athletic accomplishments have been in the form of participation trophies, fantasy football pots and Xbox achievements. But, by the time Chelsea Barnes headed in a Jenna Bragdon corner kick to give WLC the win in double overtime, I was just as invested in the results as anyone not directly affiliated with either team could be.

That good, good feeling continued through the next day; not even a cold, rainy day at ConVal could dampen my spirits, and when the Cougars’ Ian Szep scored a game-winning goal in overtime to beat Trinity, it seemed like the magic would never end.

Indeed, the thrill kept up as WLC and ConVal moved on into their quarterfinal games; both teams drew rivals that had blown them out early in the season and then beat them again 1-0, and both the Warriors and Cougars jumped out to leads against those rivals. And when both teams had those leads ripped away in the final moments of their games, I found out about the other end off the playoff emotional spectrum – the heartbreak.

I’d only started covering these teams mere weeks before and I was getting choked up at their playoff losses. How must these kids, who have dedicated much of their young lives building to these moments, feel after such tough losses? What will it be like to actually follow a team for their whole season, or watch a player move from sport to sport, season to season?

With all eight of the high school playoff teams in the Ledger-Transcript’s coverage area eliminated, I’ll have to wait for the winter sports season to find out.

Can’t wait!

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