“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell didn't just roll out of bed one morning and invent the world-changing device we now know as the telephone. While we're accustomed to the sort of constant communication that comes with carrying a phone in our pockets, there wasn't much respect for Bell's idea back in 1874. In fact, he spent two years honing the concept and developing the machinery that would first carry conversations down a wire. He spent even longer fighting for a patent as the sole inventor of the machine. After everything, though, he's still the man we know as the Inventor of the Telephone and the Father of Telecommunications.
He didn't stumble into success. He was simply ready when the time came.
Week 7 saw an unfortunate first in the 2016 season of Liga HEB: games were suspended due to poor field conditions after heavy rains on Tuesday. With only two weeks left before the Final, these games were meant to be the tone-setters for the Champions Cup. Indeed, for two clubs — Hurst's Raiders FC and Central's Spartans FC — these were pivotal matches that would have laid the groundwork for a potential berth in the climactic final match. Sitting 5 points out of the playoff conversation, those two sides needed to win out to have a shot at the cup. Either Atlético Central or FC Hurst would have needed to drop a game, as well: a virtual certainty as those teams were slated to play each other this week and Spartans were to have another shot at Hurst, who topped them 3-1 not long ago.
As it stands, the schedule has been pushed back and the matches set for Week 8 have been dropped. That leaves four teams on the outside looking in when it comes to the cup, and the league's top clubs set to advance regardless of their final result. Spartans and Raiders will effectively play an unofficial third place match next Wednesday, while their in-school counterparts get a chance to tune up for the final by playing each other. That gives them an excellent opportunity to prepare.
In their previous meeting this season, Atlético jumped on FC Hurst early and controlled the match for the duration. Hurst has been sliding lately, recording their only loss in Week 4 and struggling to put away a winless Stallions FC last week. The creative brilliance and unselfish play that put them in the drivers' seat at the start of the year has faded as their more talented stars seek to make a mark on the league; a trend that needs to be reversed before the Final. Atlético, on the other hand, have recovered from a tough loss in Week 1 to sweep the back end of the schedule. A win next Wednesday would let them swagger into the Champions Cup Match with confidence.
The final week of the regular season, despite the anticlimax caused by the standings and the rain, will feature the highest stakes yet. Stallions desperately want a win to close out an otherwise disappointing season, but Real Euless will look to sweep their rivals and end the year on a high note. Expect a tight match from Spartans and Raiders, as well: the clubs tied in their only previous meeting and will look to end up on the top half of the league standings by winning next week. As for FC Hurst and their rivals in white… Week 8 will be a chance to scout, adjust, and stake a claim as legitimate contenders. They need to give Atlético something to be nervous about before they meet at Pennington Field on March 9th. They need to prepare themselves.
After all, only one team gets to be the first club on the cup.