Player Journal: Megan Nicita (Match Fit) chronicles the ECNL RL Playoffs
Match Fit Academy 2004 player Megan Nicita competed in the ECNL Regional League Playoffs over the weekend in New Jersey, where the best teams from the Northeast Regional League gathered to crown their champions. Nicita chronicled her team’s run throughout the event with a Player Journal, providing an inside look at the competition from the perspective of a player laying it all out on their field for their team.
See below for Nicita’s daily journal from the ECNL Regional League Playoffs:
Friday, June 11, 2021
There is something special about the feeling of walking onto a freshly cut grass field in the morning. This was the first day of the ECNL Regional League Playoffs, and my teammates and I stepped on the field ready to play. The early morning energy is sometimes hard to muster, but we had it from the start. All the excitement took over my body as I made my way to find the field. I head to our team’s bench and immediately start passing with the girls as we all get ready to put everything we have into this first game. Before we start warming up, I make sure to stretch what I need to, and before I knew it, warmups were over and we were ready to take on the Scorpions.
The whistle is blown, and we kickoff. Within the first 18 seconds we score to make it a 1-0 game. The momentum gained was incredible and we started scoring one goal after another to finish the game with a win. Unfortunately, late in the second half I was taken out of the game with an ankle sprain. I didn’t know how to react in the moment, but we left the game and started to make our way to the doctor’s, I became more upset and angrier towards the situation. I grew disappointed that I could no longer help my team through the playoffs, but I was certain that they could make it through and prove to everyone what an amazing team we are. Every player has a role on the team – on the field and on the sidelines and we need to rally and support one another. I kept my head up for myself and my teammates. Afterwards, I went home and rested up for the next day of the ECNL RL Playoffs.
Saturday, June 12, 2021
Day two was going to be a challenge and we all knew that. As I walked over to the bench to watch my teammates warm up and get ready for the game, the energy was even higher than it was compared to our first game. My team warmed up and we looked great, connecting passes and playing all of the right plays, I knew we were ready. The whistle blew for day two and we had everything set up the way we wanted. At half time our coach explained that we were doing all the right things and we just needed to focus to make this game ours. We started the second half with the ball at our feet and made the perfect set ups and plays, unfortunately we could not put the ball in the back of the net to secure our spot. One small mistake and we gave up a goal, and ultimately, the game. Although discouraged, the girls didn’t stop working until the final whistle blew.
I saw how hard these girls wanted it and how much it meant to every single one of them. The time came and we ended our second day with a 1-0 loss that took us out of the running for winning the ECNL RL Playoffs. Knowing that we couldn’t go back and change the game, we kept our heads up and talked through it. We have been practicing and preparing for this chance since the beginning of our season. Every league game and practice led up to this weekend. Sitting on the bench, unable to do anything to change the outcome is the hardest thing to do. But I knew we still had a fight left in us for one more day.
Sunday, June 13, 2021
Our last and final day, we still had a chance to end it all in third place. Knowing these girls, I knew they weren’t thinking about yesterday’s game and only about today. Early in the morning, my teammate picked me up and we headed to the game together. Today we were both sitting on the bench to cheer on our team as we took home third place. Sad that we were both out of the game, we still were excited for our last day at the ECNL RL Playoffs. Our opponent was PDA South and we knew that we had to take home this win. Every match up we have had with this team all season has been even, but today was the day for us to step up.
We secured our first goal off of a penalty kick inside the box. One v one with the goalie, my teammate walked up confident to take the responsibility. Without thought, she put it away in the back of the net to leave us with a 1-0 lead. We used this momentum to bring us what we needed to win this. Before the first half ended, my team was dominating which led us to striking another goal against PDA South. It was 2-0 at halftime. The other team was able to make a one goal comeback with a penalty kick against our goalie, but we quickly responded with one more goal, with a perfectly set play leaving the end score at 3-1. Although it was a tiring and tough weekend, we were still able to make the best of it. I know that other teams would walk away looking at our final placement in the tournament, but my team and I walked away with the experience and the growth. That’s what makes Match Fit Academy’s 2004 ECNL RL team different from all the rest.