Sunday, March 10, 2013

Day 9

     We had no training so it was a very easy day. After lunch, we went to a market, where they sold clothes, bags, and other random stuff. They didn't accept traveling cards and I didn't feel like exchanging any money so I didn't get anything, but a lot of girls got some bags and clothes to bring home. 

     After the market, we went to the  Mediterranean Sea. It was so pretty, but despite it being a warm day, the water was really cold. We took some pictures and were there for about a half hour before we decided to head back on the bus to our hotel. I took a nap and then we had dinner, which was the same surprise! 
     At 9:00, we had a short meeting to go over Sweden's style of play since they were our next opponent. We were told they were going to run down every ball over played over our defense and that they are very compact. They would be playing a very flat 4-4-2. We didn't end up going over film of the Germany game, so it was only a fifteen minute meeting. We went back to our rooms and I got a head start on packing. Then we hit the hay to rest up for our game

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Day 8

     Our game was at noon so we ate breakfast at nine and then had our pre game  meeting at 10:45. The coaches reiterated Germany's playing style and our best bet at beating them. We left for the game at 11:00 looking good, wearing all white.       

     We warmed up for a half hour and then starters walked out on the field for the national anthems. It was such a great moment. The game was tough though. Germany came out strong and we got scored on in the first five minutes. They were annoying to play against. It seemed like they would cry over every little foul. And, when they got a foul called on them, they would either kick the ball away or dribble the ball away and shield it from you when you tried to grab it. 

     Midway through the first half they scored again, making it 2-0 and I was pushed back to defensive center mid because one of our defensive mids got hurt and an attacking mid subbed in for her. Towards the end of the first half, there was a miscommunication with the defense and a German got a break away. Our center back, in attempts to stop her, fouled her from behind in the box and got a red card. So, at half, we were down a man and now losing 3-0 because Germany made the Pk. 

     The second half was all defensive for us. The coaches moved to a 4-4-1 soon after the start of the second half and it was very tiring. The other center mid and I had to cover more ground since there was only one forward due to being down a man  Props to our defense because Germany didn't score the second half. It was another game to learn from.  But, like our coach said, I'm done with learning experiences, I want to win now. 

     We had a late lunch after the game and then dinner a couple hours later. At dinner, the coaches left our game on the projector so some of us stayed and watched it afterwards. Then, I went up to my room and did a little bit of homework, which made me pretty tired so I fell asleep pretty easily after that night.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Day 7

     I did the usual morning routine followed by training. The training was very lite, but challenging at the same time in terms of the mental side of the game. The coaches had to let us recover, but they also wanted to prepare us for the next game. We had to wear our heart rate straps during the practice, but I accidentally lost my strap so I couldn't wear mine. Another girl had lost hers too so I wasn't the only one who made that mistake. I might get billed for it, but I'm not sure. So, sorry in advance to my parents who might have to pay for it... 

     Training began with a light warmup with and without the ball, led by Janet Rayfield. Then Frenchie set up a little juggling competition, which got very intense. After that, center backs and goalies split up and the rest of us worked on patterns. It was harder than is sounds. It really challenged your soccer IQ. We called it quits after that. 

     Since it was a beautiful day, after lunch a lot of people layed outside for a bit and did homework. I knew I wouldn't be able to handle the sun for long so I decided to stay in. I considered doing homework, but then in the end I just took a nap instead. It was a good nap too. 
    We had dinner at 6:30, and yet again we had pasta, potatoes, and some kind of meat. It gets a bit old after the first five days. We had an hour and a half meeting at 8:30. We went over film of our game against Norway. I love going over film and watching games I played. You can learn a lot from it. We also went over strategies for the game against Germany. We were told they were going to be quick to counter, good in the air, and high intensity. Then we were given the starting line up and sent to bed to rest up for the big game. I was very excited and anxious because I was getting to start. It took me a while to fall asleep, but eventually I was able to. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day 6


Today, we were given the option to wake up between 8-9 for breakfast or sleep in and just go to lunch instead. My roommate and I had all the intentions of going to breakfast, but when our alarms went off, we couldn't get ourselves out of bed. On the plus side, we got a solid 10+ hours of sleep.  

After lunch, we hung out until we had to get ready for our game. When the time came, we got our uniforms. I was given the number 10, which I was pleased with. We headed to our pre game meeting and then we were off to the game.  

The game fields were at the same place we trained. After we warmed up, the starters lined up to go on the field for the playing of the national anthem. I didn't start, so I was on the sideline.  Still, it was such a great feeling listening to our national anthem and realizing I'm here representing our country. After the national anthem, the game kicked off.   On the bench, we stayed involved in the game by cheering everybody on.  It was a bit difficult for us to adjust to Norway's style of play. Norway didn't pressure very high at the beginning and they were very flat. Despite being the better team, it was 0-0 at half.  

I started  and played the whole second half.  It was my first time playing an international game for the US, so needless to say I was very nervous! In the second half, we came out stronger and had a lot more opportunities. We were winning 1-0 in the 89:59 minute with no stoppage when Norway scored. It was only their second or third shot of the whole game. It was one of those ties that felt like a loss. We should have won, but we just didn't put away enough opportunities.  

After the game, I got to meet the parents of two girls I know who play on the Netherlands u-20 team.  I met the girls on a trip with the ODP Region II Team a few years ago.  I also got to see one of my former regional coaches too!   Overall, even though we only came out with a tie, it was an amazing first game experience for me.

We were treated to Luigi's after the game, which is a good Spanish restaurant. They served us salad, pizza, pasta, and ice cream. Then we headed back to the hotel and were done for the night.

When I got back I read an email from Paula Wilkins (my college coach to-be).  She told me I needed to spice up my blog... I'm trying here.

I also watched some soccer and looked at the snapshots my mom sent me of my dog, Wilma.  I miss Wilma the most and I can't wait to see her and her cute little bulldog face when I get back!! After a very eventful day, I went to bed, unfortunately without Benadryl this time.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 5

I woke at the regular time, 9 o'clock. I had my typical frosted flakes with warm milk. I guess the workers here don't find it necessary to have cold milk.  

After breakfast, we had an easy training and were introduced to our assistant coach, Janet Rayfield, who had just arrived the night before. We did some easy passing drills to begin with and then worked on defending set pieces for our game the next day. I had to put on a penny, and no surprise to me, it smelled terrible. 
Afterwards, we had lunch followed by a ton of down time. It was only 1:00 and we didn't have anything again until dinner time, which was at 6:30.

The first hour and a half, some of us walked to a little shopping area and bought some souvenirs. After which I went back and did some homework and watched a little TV. Then around 4:15, I decided to take a half hour nap, which  accidentally turned into an hour and a half nap.  I'm not complaining though, it was a great nap.  

Dinner was next, followed by an 8:30 meeting where we would go over things we needed to know for the game the next day. Coaches went over offensive set pieces and told us where we would be during set pieces. They also gave us some tips on how to handle Norway.  

After the meeting, I got Benadryl from the trainer. I figured after that long nap, I wouldn't be able to get to sleep that night on my own. It worked wonders for me. I didn't wake up once for the first night since I've been here. I'm going to need to get some more of those when I get back.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day 4

Day four started with the usual routine. I woke up and ate breakfast at nine, which was then followed by training.

At training, we played some small sided and full field games and tried to focus on defending again. To finish the practice, we played 2v2. It started raining towards the end, so afternoon practice wasn't looking good. We ate lunch and then had time to hang out from 1-5:00.

At 5:30, we went over film of the u20s game against UCLA while they were at camp last month. We looked at some offensive and defensive clips.

Dinner was right after that and they surprisingly served burgers. We also got some cake because a girl on the team was celebrating her birthday. It was rich chocolate cake, which nobody could pass up!

Since afternoon training was cancelled again, we had another stretch session. This time we did some yoga and had some people rub out our muscles. It was painful to say the least. That topped off our day. So, we went to our rooms after that to rest up for our last training sessions before our first game.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Day 3

After a rough night of sleep, I woke up and had to go to breakfast at nine. Breakfast was followed by practice in the chilly weather.

At practice, forwards and midfielders trained together and then defenders worked on their own. I was in the forward/midfielder group and we worked on defending in a triangle like how we would if we were playing a 4-3-3. Then at the end we came together and scrimmaged a little bit, still trying to focus on the defensive side of the game.

After practice, we walked over to the u23s game against England. We didn't get to watch the whole game, but the US won 2-1.  So they won their four nations tournament with that victory.

We went straight to lunch from there, where they served fish yet again.

After working a little bit on homework, I had my individual meeting with Michelle French, who we all call Frenchie. Unlike most of my meetings with coaches, she wasn't focusing on soccer. She was focusing on trying to get to know me as a person, which I really liked. Our afternoon training session was cancelled due to rain, so after dinner we had a stretch session in the hotel instead. After all that, we were done for the day. I stayed up pretty late, reading and listening to music, regardless it was my best night of sleep so far.