Time Out: October 16, 2013

I often joke that if I had a dollar for every high school sports game I’ve seen, I’d be a wealthy man. Year after year, season after season I watch high school games. As one year turns into another, the games and the scores and the excitement often seem like more of the same.
Yet, every so often the play of a team really catches my fancy. This fall that’s been the case with the Roxbury Rockets girls’ soccer team. I was on the sidelines for the first Rocket outing this fall. Although I tried to put a positive spin on the Rocket effort against Milford, I worried about the Rockets’ chances.
Those worries seemed to be for real when the Rockets lost the first three or four games out of the gate. Even more worrisome was the fact that Roxbury was struggling to score even a single goal.
But, something happened along the way as the season moved along. You could sense it by watching the girls play on the field. From an outsider’s perspective it seemed to have a lot to do with chemistry. For whatever the reason, midseason found the Lady Rockets coming together as one, trusting one another in a way I hadn’t seen in the early season, and playing some steady, consistent soccer.

Drawn to the team
I cover at least one game a week as my focus sport story during the fall season. With the girls’ and guys’ games played on the same day, that can be difficult. More and more this fall season, I found myself wanting to see the Lady Rockets.
Maybe that magnetic pull had something to do with watching a team working to maximize its available talent. It was fun to see this group of girls rally around one another, never complaining, just playing hard to make a memorable late season charge.
The Rockets can be compelling to watch. In Lisa Boyke Roxbury has an experienced defensive leader, an assertive force as a last line of defense. The athletic sophomore Jade Meehan dazzles on the field. Her work defensively challenging the best offensive players in the league is a “game within a game” and something I enjoy watching every time I see the Rockets play.

Old-time player
Shannon Sprague plays like a throwback, like a player from another era, when kids willingly moved wherever their coach asked and took on whatever challenge they were assigned and did it with an appreciation for why they were handed that chore and with enthusiasm.
But, even more than the individuals, it’s the collective nature of the evolution of the Roxbury game that has been impressive. This week, the Rockets were moving the ball from inside to outside and back again, trusting that whoever was there to receive a pass would play the ball. Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn’t. But, whatever the outcome, the Rockets continued to share the load.
I don’t know where Roxbury’s season will take them. I do know the Roxbury girls should be very proud about with the way they have coalesced as a unit, as a singular soccer force pursuing a singular goal. In doing so, a group of typical small school girls’ athletes have become a lot of fun to watch on the soccer field.