Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ups and Downs

Nothing in life is perfect. No matter where you are or what you are doing, there are going to be ups and downs. We like to believe that there will be more ups than downs, and that those ups are worth all of the downs. In order to be successful, it is inevitable you will encounter obstacles and roadblocks. These interruptions are opportunities to learn and grow if we allow them to be.

This 4 Nation tournament is the building blocks of what we hope to achieve by the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico in October of 2011. Early in our preparation, we have some new players, new systems, and still a lot to learn. That doesn't mean we can't be successful against some of the top teams in the world though- and we know this.

In our first match, we faced the reigning World Cup Champions in the home country of Argentina. In what proved to be a lively crowd for the home side, we were playing in an environment unfamiliar to many of us. We used their cheering as motivation, as if they are cheering for us, and enjoying the experience of a large enthusiastic following for our sport. Unfortunately, we broke down tactically a bit in our defense during the first half. We started strong and even had the first few chances of the game, but within a 20 minute period, the Argies found the back of the net 5 times. Trailing 5-0 coming out of the lockerroom, we were not pleased with our start and knew our attacking play matched that of the opposing side. We cleaned up some things and kept them off the scoreboard for the rest of the game, but were unable to capitalize ourselves on some positive chances of our own. A 5-0 score is disappointing no matter who you are playing, even if they are #1 in the world.

No doubt we learned some big lessons that game. And as we always do, we never have repeat poor performances. Knowing little and much about the Australians at the same time (our coach, Lee is Australian and knows them well, but most of us had never played them before...) we were ready for a new challenge (as apposed to Argentina who we know all too well). We came out firing against Australia, but again failed to find the back of the cage. Persistence is one quality our team possess though and we kept attacking. As momentum built in our favor, an Aussies forward found a ball that squeaked through our defense and capitalized on her 1v1 with our goalie, Jackie. We continued to push. We had chance after chance but couldn't finish the final skill. Time wound down and we saw the game end with the lone goal by Australia. To put this low into perspective, Lee reminded us that everything we did was right, we played well, and we dominated the stats. We need to get return for our efforts, but it will come. As an elite level athlete, you hate to lose though, and no matter how well you played, it is still a bit frustrating not to be atop the scoreboard.

Friday was a much needed day off (from games) and we had a fun practice to keep everyone positive. Since it was Friday, we still have our tradition of soccer warm up! My favorite day of the week because I love soccer and it is just fun to be competitive in a different arena. Plus, it's really funny to watch some people play! We played for almost half of practice, and the coaches and staff all joined in as well!

Saturday was another chance for us to take a step in the right direction. We had already made some big strides in the first two games, we were ready for the game against Germany to be our turning point. We knew the game plan and we came out strong. Germany was a tough opponent though and they wouldn't back down. They got on the board first with a reverse shot that threw Jackie off. Shortly after we responded though with our first goal of the tournament- a tip in on the far post from Pam (her first international goal!). The game went back and forth a bit, but Germany used 2 corner goals to add to their lead. We still struggled to finish and lost 3-1. With the frustration building, Lee again reminded us that our time is coming and we need to continue to take the good things out of the game.

With Argentina and Australia tying in the second game, we are pitted against Germany once again today in the final game of this part of the 4 Nation tournament. A rematch that we are excited about. We know we are capable of getting the results because we know we have the skills and knowledge to do so. It is all just a matter of putting it all together and keeping our composure the whole 70 minutes. I think we are ready.


No comments: