“It’s been kind of crazy but I’ve known that I was going to be doing this for a while now, so I guess I was kind of prepared…but when it was announced on twitter…that’s when it hit me.
After a professional career that spanned seven years and across two continents, Boston Breakers midfielder Amanda DaCosta knew that her final game was going to be coming sooner rather than later.
For the past two falls, she had been taking classes towards a Masters Degree at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY, located right outside of New York City. In addition to the degree, she accepted a job as an Admissions Recruiter for the college, which will pay for her education, plus receive a salary and benefits. With the academic school year beginning in a few weeks, she knew that the time to announce her retirement had to come soon.
So after working with the Breakers organisation, they settled on their most recent home game to be her farewell match. But you have to go all the way back to the end of last year, where at the time she was with the Chicago Red Stars, when she started to realise that this year was going to be the last.
“Knowing the way that things were going with Portugal last fall, I knew it wouldn’t seem right to stop playing [at the end of last season]. I knew the EUROs were going to be coming in the future and I was really pushing to be there, that was kind of like my finish line. It all kind of made sense that this year was going to be it.”
It’s never easy for any player to play their last match, no matter the circumstance. After a long summer that DaCosta has experienced, both handling the rigours of the National Women’s Soccer League as well as the training, travel and experience of playing in the EUROs, the moment could have been completely overwhelming.
“It was just a surreal moment to be honest. We had that 4 o’clock match, so the game just came by so fast and I don’t know, it was just such a weird day filled with emotion that when I look back at it, it was all kind of a blur.”
And she would start her final match watching from the bench that afternoon and was brought on as a sub in the 76th minute, just after Alex Morgan scored her second of the day to give the Orlando Pride a two-goal advantage.
But as any true professional would handle that situation, the last thing that was on her mind was that this would be her last few minutes in her career. She wanted to put everything on the line to get her team a result. The only time that focus was altered was in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time when, still trailing by a pair of goals, Boston’s Adriana Leon was fouled inside the box and earned her team a penalty kick. At the moment, DaCosta knew this was probably her last opportunity to impact the game, so why not jump in and take the penalty kick.
“I asked Tash [Natasha Dowie] if I could take [the penalty] because she was going to take it, but I was like, okay this is definitely my moment, I’m going to take the kick.”
However, the irony of the moment was that DaCosta was not one of the traditional set piece takers and the last time she thought she took a penalty kick was in college, and missed. Not too much pressure, right?
“I remember looking back at Angela [Salem] and asking, ‘do you know which way Ashlyn [Harris] goes to for PKs or does she read it’ and she was like, ‘I have no idea.’ So I was like, ‘all right, I’m just going to smash it’.”
So she picked her spot to Harris’ right and buried it, recording her first goal in the NWSL since her days with the Washington Spirit, where she scored three goals in the 2015 season.
FULL TIME: Breakers 1-2 Pride.
— Women's Soccer Zone (@WoSoZone) August 19, 2017
Looking back on the events of the day and how it all transpired, there was a trend -peace and calmness – and DaCosta believes that because she knows her journey ahead is planned, she felt that she was in a good place to step aside from the game. However, while she won’t be lacing up her boots for a match any time soon, she will still be running her personal training business in working with young players to develop their skill set.
“I have a plan for my future that I am really excited about. So knowing that I am ending one chapter, but fully prepared to start another, I have had such amazing support from my teammates, my family, friends, that I just felt totally sure about everything that I’ve done in my career, and now moving on with that towards my new career.”
As that new path will take her away from competitive soccer, she stated that she has “done everything I’ve ever wanted to do in soccer and even doing things that I didn’t even dream I’d be able to do.” That is why she has obtained this certain peace and tranquility about her decision.
For now, DaCosta will continue her personal training business, but the memories of playing will certainly last her a lifetime. And she will carry the lasting impression that she was part of a time where the support in the women’s game has grown to new heights.
“The game has grown exponentially over the past couple of years. Not just in the US, but all over the world. I went to the FAWSL (in 2013) when it was just starting to grow. Even over the course of two years, I saw an incredible change in fans that we got, media support that we got, and I was able to see the same shift in the US, too. So I think the game has really continued to grow and while there is still work to be done, the changes have been great to see.”