Monday, June 28, 2010

National Championships and National Team 2010

The past couple weeks have been crazy!! I got to spend a week at home training with the South team in preparations for National Championships which took place this past week in Virginia Beach. It was really nice to be at home and see my family because I hadn't seen them since April. Always nice to have a little time at home with loved ones! :)

Virginia Beach was a lot of fun though. We arrived Saturday (19th) for practice. It was quite hot, but team South was used to the heat and humidity since we had been practicing in it for months. The first game saw us head to head with Boston on Sunday. We were ready to start the tournament well and make a statement that the South was there to win. Although it wasn't the smoothest game, we got a solid 3-1 win and the 3 points we were looking for. There was no time for celebrating though because we had to turn around and play California at 9am the next morning. The South was ready for the challenge, with another 3-1 win.

Game 3 and the last game of pool play again Mid-Atlantic wasn't until Wednesday at 8pm. We had close to 3 days off. Needless to say, our team spent some nice time relaxing at the beach. Some of the parents were renting a beach house and they so graciously took care of us, including a CRAB FEAST on Tuesday evening! Wednesday morning was the USA soccer game vs. Algeria which was a must win to advance in the pool (we could relate). Roz Ellis, Caroline Blaum, and I watched intently as the minutes continued to pass without a goal in the game. As stoppage time approached, we all became very nervous and fidgety. As we all know, Landon Donovan came through with the late goal in stoppage time, and we all proceeded to celebrate like little kids in a candy store! Jumping up and down, running around the room, screaming, we felt as though we ourselves had scored!

Still pumped from the US game, we were ready to score our own Donovan-esque heroic style goal! We knew we were leading the pool, and needed a strong effort against Mid-Atlantic to keep our number one spot (they were right behind us at number 2 in the pool). In what seemed to be routine for the South, we went out and won the game 3-1 once again. In my opinion, that was our best performance of the tournament, even though we had a 2 hour lightning delay!! Our team was on the same page that night and it was not only fun to play, but fun to watch. It's amazing what you can do when everyone plays together.

After winning the pool, we were set up in the semi-finals against Pennsylvania on Friday who finished 2nd in the other pool. Unfortunately we didn't play quite as well as we had the previous game, and although it was a hard fought, close game, we ended up on the losing end. This was frustrating for our team because our goal was to win the whole tournament and we really wanted a shot at playing New Jersey who had won the other pool. But like true competitors, we showed up Saturday morning determined to go out with a win. We were facing Mid-Atlantic again and we knew they wanted a little revenge. Both teams fought through the exhaustion of a tough week, but we reigned victorious with a 5-2 win!

The best part of the day was that we finished early (of course with a win), but that we would be able to enjoy the whole US soccer game vs. Ghana! We meet at BW3 for some wings and soccer and a great atmosphere for the game. Although we yelled at the television and jumped up and down, unfortunately the US could not pull out another miracle goal to win the game. We still love their effort!

Finally, after all the games had concluded (including the final where New Jersey won a battle with PA 1-0) we had a banquet to honor all the teams, a retirement, and to announce the new National Squad for the upcoming year. First, I must mention that the one and only Melissa Leonetti retired from the team. She had an amazing career representing her country and will be greatly missed. I consider her a good friend and I will definitely miss playing with her! Best of luck to you in everything you do in the future Mel!! At last, the National Team was named. Although I have been on the team a few years, I still got the chills as soon as I heard my name called. It is such an amazing honor to play for the National Team and I am thankful for every opportunity that I get. On that note, there were a few new players named to the team, and I want to say a special welcome and congrats to those girls: Mel Brill, Jackie Kintzer, Melissa Gonzalez, Julia Reinprecht, Michelle Vitesse, and Paige Selenski.

Next up for the team: Training back in San Diego for a Tour to Spain and England at the end of July!! Keep following and supporting us!

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