What a great accomplishment for our team! We have put in a lot of hard work, dedication, and grit to put ourselves in a good position to stand on top of that podium. After falling short in the last two Champions Challenge Finals, we weren't going to let that happen again. We fought through a lot of obstacles thrown in our way to come away with a gold.
The quarterfinal against India was a tough match. We have always had close matches with India in the past, and I think that is partially the way we match up with each other tactically and technically. We had a lot of the possession throughout the game, but it took til late in the second half to final find the back of the goal. In a must win game, that can be nerve-wracking. We stuck to our game plan and trusted our skill, resulting in a 1-0 win. After all the teams from our pool won the quarterfinal match ups, we knew exactly what to expect from there on out. We faced Spain in our semi-final game, and knew they had grown tremendously throughout the tournament and could not be taken lightly despite our 3-1 win in pool play. We came out with really high pressure and put Spain on their heels a bit in the first half. With a 3-0 lead at halftime, Spain had nothing to lose and definitely threw everything they had at us in the second half. We defended a fair bit, but weathered the storm, only conceding one goal to end the game with another 3-1 win over the Spanish. This set us up with an unexpected opponent of Ireland in the final. Although, we knew it was a possibility we could play them, they upset Korea (in the quarterfinal) and South Africa (in the semis) after finishing last in our pool. They definitely played with the Irish Spirit and left everything on the field. We knew if we didn't bring our A-game, we too were susceptible to being upset. We also knew exactly what to expect and we knew how badly we wanted that gold. After a fire alarm disrupted the playing of the anthems and delayed the start of the game, we knew it was going to be one of those days where you just had to be mentally strong, stay on task, and fight through all the bumps along the way. It was just that. Ireland came out hard and scored within minutes of the opening whistle. That was a hard way to start a final. But we stuck to what had made us successful the whole tournament: hard work, sticking to the game plan, and backing each other. And it worked. In the end, we got 3 goals back and won the game 3-1. I must give credit to the Irish though who didn't make it easy for us and who fought until the very last whistle. Amazing stuff from an underdog team who has grown tremendously since the last time we played them in international competition.
Anyways, we definitely enjoyed our moment in the spotlight celebrating a great team victory. By winning Champions Challenge, we automatically gain a spot into the 2016 Champions Trophy, which is absolutely massive for us. We haven't attended Champions Trophy in a long time (if ever?) and for me, this was the sweetest part about winning! Not to mention, it is good momentum going into the World Cup in just a few weeks!
But yes... we are back in America now, and already back to work. We have a lot we still need to improve on and adjust if we want to be successful at the World Cup. Just to give you an idea.... we won Champions Challenge on Sunday, flew back to America on Monday, then had lifting and conditioning on Tuesday. We hit the ground running! As our men's team says: No Days Off!
It has been quite a tough process physically and mentally preparing for the World Cup, but we are willing to put it all out there. We don't want to have any regrets. We want to put ourselves in the best position to win. Not just compete and say we participated, but we want to get results, or least know we did everything we could to be successful with the opportunities that are given to us. No matter where we finish, we know it is sports, where anything can happen. We can't predict outcomes based on how hard we work. Everyone knows you can dominate a game statistically (possession, shots, corners, etc.), but at the end of the day, you could still lose on the scoreboard. It is just a matter of being as prepared as possible for battle, then leaving everything you have on the field!
I hope you are as excited as I am about the World Cup! I hope you will be following me and my teammates as we try to make history and bring home some hardware to the USA!!!
Thanks again for everyone who supported us in Scotland, and who have supported us all along. We appreciate all the love and kind words, and hope that our efforts can inspire you to be great, as well!
Enjoy some pictures from our last few games/days in Scotland: