Real-life: From CHAMPION to runner-up

My club soccer team, ZNK Teleing GMT Beltinci, was the reigning women’s soccer club in Slovenia for 5 consecutive years with each 1st place title in the league and Women’s cup title, winning pretty much everything there was to win – all of which ended May 28th, 2017 when we lost the final and deciding game of the season and conceded goal in the last minute of the game, taking away everything we worked for all season, seconds before the referee blew the final whistle. Let me tell you what happened:
I usually don’t like to blame the refs for a game’s outcome, but this time they REALLY played an enormous role. Of course, the fact that we lost is our mostly fault and we can always something that could have been done differently that might have changed the outcome. For example, we as a team could have tried harder and been smarter, more effective on goal, fought less with the refs (which led to a red card leaving us with a player down and 20 more minutes of game left)… and maybe we should have shown more desire to take that 1st place trophy home. All of this could have changed the outcome – which we realized as that last ball rolled slowly into our net in the last seconds of the game. Maybe our coaches could have done a better job and reacted better in that unpredictable situation when our midfielder got a red card and was ejected from the field. Maybe we weren’t tactically synchronized or maybe we were unlucky.

The referee, however, made certain conscious decisions that also largely affected the outcome of the game. He called many, many fouls which ruined the continuity of the game over and over again (most of which were not in our favor) and pulled out yellow cards like they were dollar bills in a bar. All of this I would normally accept, but at the end of the game I realized that we played a full 98 minutes, which means he awarded 8 minutes of stoppage time when we were a man down giving the other team almost 30 minutes of game time with an advantage which they used to score 3 goals for a final score of 3-2. 8 MINUTES OF STOPAGE TIME???! Not even in men’s professional soccer do they add on 8 minutes of stoppage time…30 seconds for each substitute for a total of 3 minutes with 2 minutes for injuries and cards leads to a maximum of 5 minutes! And we played 8! Keep in mind that the score was 2-2 until the 97th minute…so we were already well over time and once they scored the game was over. THIS IS THE ONLY THING I CANNOT ACCEPT. This was where the referee had a big impact on the result, and only god knows what his reasons were for those 8 minutes of extra time.

This sounds very dramatic, and honestly, it was pretty dramatic for both the new 2016/2017 season winner and us, a team that is not used to losing.
It was a bumpy soccer season for us this year, ending in the worst possibly way. However, I like to believe that everything happens for a reason and as one door closes (such as the opportunity to play UEFA Women’s Champions League that just slipped through our fingers) then another one will open. Life goes on and there is no time to fret or stress. That is how I think and like to deal with these kinds of emotionally difficult situations. The life lesson taught by sports competition: through difficult situations you have to pick your head up and keep pushing forward!
Have you ever gone through this situation? Losing a game in the final seconds, losing focus of the prize, losing hope and confidence? Or maybe you were on the other end of the spectrum and won everything that you desired?