Wednesday, April 27, 2011

USA vs. Japan

It has been an exciting week back here in Chula Vista. I arrived back in sunny Southern California just over a week ago and haven't stopped since I touched down. I jumped right back into the team as we were finishing our final build up for our series against Japan. After spending the last couple months playing back in Holland, with HGC, I was excited to rejoin my US teammates and catch up on everything I had missed. Similarly, they were eager to learn of all my adventures and experiences abroad.

Saturday, game day, arrived in no time. To say that everyone was energetic and ready to get back to playing is an understatement. The team hadn't played a game together since mid-February down in Argentina and I could tell everyone was ready to see the results of practice and take on some new competition. After doing so well in Argentina against some of the world's best, we were confident in our chances against Japan, ranked #9 in the world, even though they are still ranked ahead of us. We came out strong gaining a 2 goal lead in the first half. Unfortunately, we gave up a goal at the end of the half and right after halftime to see the game tied once again. But, that didn't shake us. We picked up the intensity and continued to fight, as we always do. When the final whistle sounded, we saw ourselves on top 4-2. Definitely a good start to the series.

Easter Sunday was our second test against the Japanese. We knew they were going to come at us in the second match. Not only had we upset them in the first, they had more time to adjust to the jetlag and would be better physically prepared for the second duel. We absorbed their pressure, matched it, then pushed back harder. We found the back of the cage 3 times and kept a clean sheet in the back. A shutout in any international is always big positive.

Even though the game took up most of our day on Easter, many still found time to go to church and we still had a nice get-together for dinner. We did it potluck style, and all the dishes were delicious! We had everything from ham, green beans, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, to brownies and cake! We also got in a quick easter egg hunt and pin the tail on the bunny! haha... all and all it was a good evening!

Yesterday, we played our third match. This one was a bit different for us because we not only changed our structure (to practice another formation to see how Japan would react to it), but also because we had different personnel from the first two tests. We definitely had to work through some insecurities in the movement and structure of our new formation, but we persisted and ended the game even in a 1-1 tie. Shout out to Katelyn Smither on her first cap! And to the Navy SEAL Leap Frog team that parachuted onto our field before the game!

I am excited for today's game though. I know many of us were not happy with a tie yesterday after our first two performances, so I expect we will put out a strong performance today! Stay tuned!

Also, shout out to HGC Heren 1 for making it to the EHL final four!!