The journey to making history
When you appreciate the journey, the milestones along the way feel that much more special. This past weekend, my teamates with KIF Örebro in Sweden and I accomplished something that no one would have predicted. Before the season started, we were picked to finish fifth or sixth in the league. This past Sunday, we won a silver medal, which is the clubs first ever medal in the Swedish Damallsvenskan, and we also secured a spot to play in the UEFA Champions League for 2015/2016. Looking back at how we got here is quite remarkable. In 2012, we struggled, alot. Throughout the year we battled with injuries, suspensions, tough results, and a financial crisis which almost forced us to drop out of the league. We fought to stay above the relegation line (every year the bottom two teams get sent down to division 1), and finished the season 3 points above the line, hanging on by a thread. Last year, 2013, we brought in a few more players to strengthen the squad, and put alot of focus into our team defense. We drastically decreased the amount of goals against, and began to see more positive results. We still battled with some injuries and suspensions, but found a way to produce more results. At the end of the year a medal was in sight, but we just couldnt find a way to get the three points when we really needed it. We finished sixth, with a hard feeling in our guts. We knew we were better than that, and we were determined to prove it. From last fall, we set our minds on something bigger. This spring of 2014 started out tough. We had some big losses in preseason before the whole team was back from winter break, but we knew it was part of the journey. We had our first game with everyone back together in March, it was the Swedish Cup quarter final, vs last years season champions, Malmö, away. The cards were stacked against us of course. Having most of our internationals flying in just days before this game, we traveled south to prepare. Long story short, we went, we conquered, we left. We all knew after winning that game, away, vs the reigning league champions, that it was the start of something amazing. We started the league with two losses and a win, and you could tell there was something about this team that would never give up. We then went on a 9-game winning streak, eventually losing to Rosengård (Malmö), 1-0, in what felt like a series final. We felt the disappointment for the next week as we went away and lost another game, but we were determined to keep fighting. For the remaining games, we fought for the second spot with two other teams, and moved around from second to fourth weekly. One week second place was in our hands, the next it wasnt. We stayed focus, and as we did all year, we kept our focus off the standings table, and on the immediate task in front of us. With one game remaining, thanks to an upset of another team, second place was in our control. Any positive result (win or tie) would secure it for us. The final week was an emotional one with a lot of excitement, nerves, and anticipation, but we pulled through, went up 2-0 and played the longest final twenty minutes of my career! The final whistle blew, and we had done it. We won a silver medal and qualified for Champions League. Knowing the journey we had been through as a team, it felt that much better, and brought up so many emotions. Even when no one outside of the team believed in us, we knew and believed in ourselves more than enough to make up for that. I have never been a part of such a close knit team, who genuinely would give anything for one another, and where everyone played their part on the team to their absolute best ability. As coach said all year, "the team wins the game" and this could never be more true.