UW Health Sports Medicine 

The sweetest thing

By Michele Dalton, women's soccer goalkeeper

The sweetest, most satisfying feeling in the world HAS to be a hard fought victory! Certainly the game Monday night was nothing less than a battle. Northwestern, in my opinion, was the game with the greatest amount of energy we've experienced all season. It was nothing less than electric. During an injury in the second half, I took a deep breath and had a minute to collect my thoughts. I looked to my right and both benches we're on their feet incessantly encouraging us to stay in it. I looked up and realized how dark the sky had become and how bright the lights were. I closed my eyes and realized how loud the crowd was yelling. Perhaps the stats didn't reflect the energy. Two and three saves respectively for the goalkeepers isn't a very impressive statistic, but that doesn't mean both sides didn't have solid chances. Luckily, we were the team that used the energy the most to our advantage.

The best part of this season, in my opinion, was demonstrated Monday night... our ability to keep fighting and come out victorious. We've known all along what it would take to be successful this season. Furthermore, we've known that we have all the right tools to be successful. But actually being able to implement our talent and our inexperience was seen as weakness by competitors. I think we used this to our advantage and took teams by surprise, but more importantly, demonstrated that our success wasn't by accident. We consistently battled through every game, regardless if we had gone behind early or not. Losing only one game (that was determined by a PK in overtime) in the Big Ten is clear evidence that our success and talent is not by chance, rather it is proof that we've arrived as a team and as a program.

The 30 second bus ride to the locker room was the best 30 seconds ever! The adrenaline from the win hadn't worn off yet. People were yelling, crying, hugging, high-fiving, and dancing in the aisle (and on the seats). I turned around and looked at the seniors who couldn't stop smiling. With a smile I said to Whit (Owusu), "We did it," and it hit me what had actually happened that night. Finishing in the top half of the Big Ten and an NCAA berth were two of the goals we had set at the beginning of the season. With that win, we locked in third place in the conference and gave ourselves an excellent shot at making the NCAA Tournament. What we had dreamed about, talked about, and thought about for so many months was actually a reality in that moment. We had something to show to everyone else, but more importantly to ourselves for our months of preparation.

Living in that moment is something I've returned to frequently every day since the game, and I smile every time I do. The best part about winning is that the feeling never goes away. The satisfaction of winning never dies and I can return to it at any time. Thirty years from now when everyone is in another chapter of their lives, we can still return to that moment, that victory, that memory. It's something we will share forever and I'm proud to say I'm a part of it, but we're not done making memories. The season is far from over. There's still work to be done. The moments we share these next few days, regardless how we finish overall, will be the best to date.