Own Goal

If you are a soccer fan you know the meaning of the term “own goal.”
You also know why I am writing about it today.
If not, allow me to explain.
Occasionally in a soccer match a player will inadvertently knock the ball into his own team’s goal. It’s called an “own goal” and it counts as a goal for the opposing team.
Since soccer matches typically are low scoring affairs, an “own goal” can be devastating.
Like on July 1 when England’s Laura Bassett scored an “own goal” for Japan to cost her team a victory and a trip to the Women’s World Cup, eventually won by the United States on Sunday.
If you saw the replays of Bassett’s emotional breakdown following that loss, you got an idea how horrible and lonely an experience an “own goal” can be. Bassett will think about that goal the rest of her life.
The stakes certainly were not as high but the feeling was just as horrible 20 years ago when a 9-year-old on the U-10 soccer team I was coaching did the same thing. Chris Police, one of our best players, put the ball in our own net and cost us a game. England’s recent disaster caused me to think of Chris and that heart-wrenching Sunday morning on a soccer field in South Abington Township in the fall of 1995 and I had to track him down.
I had been meaning to call Chris Police, anyway, ever since his named turned up last summer under different circumstances. I had not seen him in all these 20 years but, believe it or not, I had his cell phone number. How and why I did I will get to in a minute.
I called it Tuesday evening and much to my surprise Chris remembered me and our soccer team, which came close to making it to the county championships that year. He was a little fuzzy on the own goal, however, and I felt kinda bad for bringing it up.
I reminded him that in the evening of the day we lost that game I went to his house and he and I sat on his front steps and talked the whole thing out. That did a ring a bell, he said. My son was on the team, often playing goal keeper, and I told Chris I had said to Michael, “I have see Chris tonight. I can’t let him go to bed worried about that goal.”
Chris said he continued to play soccer through his sophomore year at Abington Heights but then got into mountain biking, which he pursues to this day.
He earned a degree in architecture from Philadelphia University and is currently studying for his licensing exam. He is affiliated with Highland Associates in Clarks Summit where he interned. There he works alongside a couple of my old friends, Pittston guys Charlie Consagra and Carlo Romaldini.
But that’s just a tiny part of his Pittston connection.
Last summer, Chris wed Marietta Pesotini, daughter of Len and Deb Pesotini of West Pittston. I’ve known them both for years and wrote about Lenny back when I was a sports writer and he was an All Scholastic football player at Pittston Area and later an All American at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
It was from Len that I got Chris’s phone number.
Photos of Chris’s and Marietta’s wedding appeared in the June 14 issue of Greater Pittston Progress and, to me, Chris looks the way he did 20 years ago.
On the phone Tuesday Chris graciously said whatever I told him on those steps when he was 9 must have done the trick because his life has gone well.
I laughed and said since he seems like such a well-adjusted young man I am going to take the credit.
He laughed, too, and told me to go right ahead.

Ed Ackerman