#9: The Desert Sun and Shadows

The desert sun hangs low on the horizon and glistens upon the sweat on the brow of a center forward. A shadow is cast upon her number 9, but a blinding light is stirring inside this girl and her unquenchable thirst for the game. Eyes scan the field expertly, knee bandaged to support the medial crucial ligament, seam of the right boot becoming unhinged from the pressure of the game. Built form and mental fortitude working in tandem to provide fleeting moments of magical play, just as the sun and shadows function to illuminate and contrast daily life. She has the impeccable built form of 5’10’’, 166 lbs. of rippling muscle that enable the jumping, sprinting, tackling, sliding, cutting, explosive effort, strength and endurance the game demands for 90 minutes of performance. In the case of exceptional players, a prerequisite is the rare parallelism of the tactical fortitude and technical skills to create greatness. The mentality to execute with precision and thoughts to compel the body to the brink of capacity enables the physical performance. She is the first to arrive at practice, the one to spearhead equipment set up, sweat the most, lead the huddle and see the broadest, and yet, the one you hear the least.

The monotonous sound of the fans, coaches and teammates blur together to form a safe-place for creative thoughts and patterns to unfold. A simple hand raising in the air to signal the impending exploitation of the back line. Contested space on the ball, occupied space off the ball and open space ever looming in front of the ball. She has this ability to envision future plays develop prior to their actual occurrence coupled with the heart rate, aerobic, anaerobic and strength capacity to execute her wildest desires. A give and go wall pass off of the outside wings and an explosive outside run to the opposite side of the field. A simple nod of approval as the ball rivals the sun for space in the sky as it is crossed, with pressure enclosing upon her like a hand squeezing. Flawless touch and she is off again at a blistering pass towards the goal.   One defender remains for Dooley to slip through the fingers of her opposition.   A forceful cut and an off-balanced falter by the defender leaves their weight falling in the wrong direction, as the shadow of the desert sun races to keep up with “Dooley” inscription over the number 9. She strikes the ball 22 yards out, purely and across the goalkeeper, blazing toward the upper “V” of the goal. She turns before the result is final. She knows her objective has been achieved. Jogging back to her teammate who originated the play, she thanks them for their efforts, forever self-deprecating, and gives ownership to the goal to another. This is Michaela Dooley. She is a rare specimen of football genius and is redefining the game of soccer as she grows her career from the past glory as Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year and 3 time-state champion, current Kentucky Wildcat player and potential future Irish National Team member.

mac and gal

Henry, Dan. “Chattanoog Football Club women shut out at home.” June 13th, 2015. Accessed February 9th, 2016. www.timefreepress.com

 The UK women's soccer team defeats Morehead State 3-0 on Sunday, September 7, 2014 at the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex. Photo by Britney Howard | UK Athletics

Howard, Britney. “UK women’s soccer team defeats Morehead State 3-0.” September, 7, 2014. Accessed February 18th, 2016. www.ukathletics.com