I went to the UNT-UTSA game on Sunday. It was hot. My knees got three shades darker. There were dragonflies and wasps flying around me. It was a good time.
The Mean Green scored in the second minute on Jackie Moreau’s header off Karla Piñeda’s corner. Despite the rough play from UTSA and a smattering of yellow cards handed out1, UNT managed to keep their conference clean sheet streak alive. Karla Piñeda even managed to double the lead later on a free kick from just outside the area. UTSA’s keeper was called for a back pass after handling a pass from her teammate.
It is always fun to go to a soccer game if only for the perspective it provides. UTSA’s Park West complex is new and nice, with tall bleachers overlooking a pristine field. I overheard one or two UNT parents mention that it is a bit nicer than the Mean Green Village. I’d say it’s comparable. What stood out to me as I ate my ice cream at half time under the bleachers, trying to find respite from the sun, was that just over to my left was our team. They were seated in chairs around a table underneath the same bleachers. I was surprised that there wasn’t a locker room anywhere. It’s kind of weird. Or maybe it isn’t. I’m not well versed in CUSA-level soccer so I have no idea. A former player in the stands mentioned that the UNT soccer teams of the early 2000s used to play in a field by the Peterbilt factory in Denton. So there’s more perspective.
I probably sound naive or whatever. It just struck me as odd. I imagined the same scene at a basketball game where, like Jordan Williams is getting a half time talk from Tony Benford while I’m in line for some popcorn.
I suppose the extended media coverage, internet coverage and the SBNations of the world make college sports feel decidedly non-amateur. Having lived in that world it is odd to be struck in the face by the normalcy of college athletics experience. Football and basketball have a much different experience with “fans” than do soccer, volleyball, and the others do. It was a jolt of recognition of the strangeness of it all. There I was eating an ice-cream with my wife while the team was getting half time instructions from a former MLS guy under the same bleachers in the same sun at the same hard-to-find athletic complex off of Loop 1604.
Maybe it is just me. Maybe it was the sun?
I’ve been to a handful of UNT soccer games now, over a couple years. My first was against Baylor in Waco, the middle few were in Denton, and the most recent here in San Antonio. Whereas basketball games can have the feel of a neighborhood restaurant — you see the same people a lot and you pretty much know the place intimately, but you feel like you are out and about — soccer games are like sitting in the living room with your friends parents. I’ve never been one to really mingle with the parents of players — I know some of you do. I have nothing against it but I don’t really have anything to contribute to a good conversation. I mostly am at the games for very different reasons than they are. We have a common rooting interest but I’m dispassionate about player performance. They, for obvious reasons, aren’t. I want to give them space to support their kids in the way they want, with like-minded people. I’m there for the entertainment.2
Part of the fun of going to a game is loudly commenting on it. Talking about it. “Great pass.” “Terrible shot.” “Good hustle.”
And so on.
It is weird when her mom can hear you. I’m not talking about our team’s moms. I mostly thinking of the other team’s moms.3 Nothing, I mean nothing, gets parents more irrationally angry than when you say something negative about their kid. My mom was that way when I had HS games. No doubt your mom is similar. So you see why it is weird if you cheer a poor play from the other team.
So it was kind of hilarious to hear the local crowd — the Roadrunner fans — react to the UNT fan’s reactions. UTSA’s Happy Orere-Amadu looked to be their best player4 and she was dangerous when she was on the ball. She was also doing some dangerous tackles, and diving very obviously.5 The coaches and the players both complained. The UTSA coaches complained about our coaches. The UTSA fans and parents complained about us complaining. There were reactionary groans.
It was a good time.
Karla Pineda was moved to advanced midfield and is balling. She probably is the most skilled with the ball at her feet and so can create for herself and teammates. Ya’ll should go watch.
- Five in all. ↩
- There are juicy tidbits to be had. No one follows the games as closely or has as much insight as as player parent. ↩
- Generally, you aren’t saying much bad about your own team unless they are terrible. You probably aren’t going to a women’s soccer game if they have a terrible team. Our squad is balling. ↩
- To my eyes really. I can’t say I’m any kind of familiar with the UTSA team. ↩
- I mean, to me and everyone else wearing green it was pretty obvious. ↩