Tuesday, September 25, 2012

“The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”

Two weekends ago Brooke I decided to take a last minute trip to Edinburgh, Scotland for our weekend off. The Astrom’s were nice enough to let us borrow the car and we were off. Since we booked a discount flight with Ryanair we had to drive 4 hours to the airport they fly out of. We managed to find our way there without any problems. Edinburgh is a beautiful city with a breathtaking landscape. We were only there 3 days but we were able to squeeze in as much as we could. When we first arrived we checked into our hostel. Brooke and I had never stayed in one so we were a bit unsure of what to expect. We stayed in an all girl’s room with ten other people and had no problems. I was impressed with my hostel experience and would definitely stay in one again.

We decided to waste no time and ventured out to see what was around. We quickly realized Edinburgh was a pretty small city and we were able to navigate around quite easily. We took a tour of Edinburgh Castle, walked the Royal Mile, climbed the 287 steps of the Scott Monument, visited St. Giles Cathedral, Museum of Scotland, Gallery of Scotland, Holyrood Palace, House of Parliament, the Royal Botanic garden and hiked Arthur’s seat. The hike was pretty neat and only took us about 35 minutes to the top. You had a panoramic view of the city and it was incredible. We were able to enjoy ourselves and get our minds off Kokkola for a few days, but come Monday we were focused and eager to continue our season.

Saturday we traveled to Vantaa by train to play against VJS. It’s a team we hadn’t seen yet this season but we were ready for the match. The field was in pretty bad condition as it had been raining quite a bit. We started the game out strong and scored already in the 2nd minute. Jonna played Tess through on a breakaway that she finished. Ten minutes later Jonna beat her player wide and lofted the ball far post over the keepers reach. Right before the half Tess was able to score her 2nd of the match to put us up 3-0 going into the locker rooms.
In the second half VJS got a little stronger but we were able to hold them off well. We created chances and finished the game 5-0 off two goals from Brooke. We now sit in first place but are trailed by Merilappi who are only 3 points behind and have 1 more game to play than us. We need to continue to take it one day at a time and we will become closer and closer to our goal. We have this weekend off due the Finnish cup Finals and we continue play on October 6th, when we travel to Jyvaskyla to play JYPK.  Everyone is focused and continues to work hard day in and day out. Our time here in Finland is coming quickly to an end and while I will miss the time here I am excited to get back to see all of my family and friends at home!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's about being better than you were the day before..

Yesterday we played a home game against Kuusysi. They finished in first place in the southern division and it was our first time playing them this season. We were well prepared for the game and knew the circumstances. There is only 3 games left of the series and we needed the 3 points in order to continue to be in control of our future. We came away with a 3-0 victory and are back at the top the table. 
The game started off with Kuusysi controlling the play for the first few minutes. Only about five minutes in we regained our composure and took control of the game. The turf was very slippery and some great balls ran a little further than they would have, but we were creating some good chances and making the runs. About 30 minutes in Tess headed home a corner kick from Olga. We went into halftime leading 1-0. We knew Kuusysi was going to come out hard and we needed to be ready to raise our level. In the second half we controlled most of the play. We created a few chances that we were unable to capitalize on. In the 65th minute we had another corner kick. Olga played it short to Linda who found Tess wide open on the back post. She tapped it in off the post for us to lead 2-0. Kuusysi put a bit more pressure forward and our defense did a good job to keep them from creating any real dangerous situations. 3-0 came in the 85th minute when Jenni played Brooke in free off a long throw in. Brooke beat the keeper and then a defender to slot home. We pressured well all over the field and defensively our communication improved. We now have 2 weeks off of games before traveling to Helsinki to play VJS. In training we will focus on our next game and continue to work towards reaching our goal. There are only three games remaining and we have just 36 days left in Kokkola (if anyone was counting). It’s crazy how fast the time has gone and I look forward to our last few games.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Taking it one day, one game at a time..

London was an amazing trip! Brooke, Monica, Krista and I were able to go to London for the Olympics. When we first got there we headed out to look for somewhere to watch the US Canada Women’s semifinals soccer game. We ended up at a pub in Camden Town. The game was crazy and we were freaking out, since we already had tickets to the finals and were hoping the US would be in it. They ended up winning the game in a dramatic fashion. The next day we got up and went to do some sightseeing around the city. We saw the normal touristy stuff.. Big Ben, London Eye, Tower Bridge, and Buckingham Palace, and I had my first taste of the infamous fish and chips. Wednesday we headed down to Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus to do some shopping and just walk around taking everything in. Wednesday night we went to one of the Olympic viewing parties to catch a few of the events on the big screens.

Thursday was game day. We got up early in hopes to go walk around the Olympic Park before the game started. Unfortunately we were unable to get in since our venue (Wembley) was not inside the Park. Instead we went and met up with Ruben, a friend of mine from college who was representing Cape Verde in Athletics at the Olympics. Since he hadn’t been able to explore London at all yet we took him to Camden Town. I would refer to Camden Town as a mini New York City, all little vendors and food stands. We settled for some pizza and just relaxed. It was starting to get late so we parted ways and Brooke Krista and I headed towards Wembley. We got there pretty early and were able to watch the warm ups from the first row behind the US. It was pretty neat to see what they did and how they prepared for the game. When the game started the crowd was indescribable, over 80,000 fans, an Olympic women’s soccer record, going crazy. Our seats were behind the corner flag about 20 rows up and we had a good view of the field. The game was back and forth and hats off to Japan who at times looked even better then the US. Both teams created chances and it was an exciting game to watch. Although I’m not a huge Hope Solo fan (like Krista) I think she showed that she is the best GK in the world. After the game we stuck around for a little while in hopes for Krista to get Solo’s autograph. We ended up waiting at the wrong gate. A security man was yelling to us saying the bus was waiting and he could take us. We just thought he was being nice and started running off with him. It wasn’t until we were almost there that he walkie talkied to the bus saying he had 3 of the players and we would be there in a minute for the bus to stay. Brooke and I got nervous and babied out before we actually got put on the bus. It would have been pretty funny to see people’s reactions as us three walked on the bus. We got to see a couple of the players get on the bus but we missed the chance for autographs. All in all it was an amazing experience and we had a great time.

Our first game of our seven game playoff was against F.C  Sport. We were familiar with the way they play as they came from our series and we faced them two times already. We were able to get the three points in a hard fought match which we were able to come from behind twice to win 3-2. The nerves were visible and it was something we talked about moving forward.

The second game we traveled to Turku to play against a new side TuWe. We took the train and it was about a 5 hour travel. The game started and we created many quality chances. TuWe was also able to put on some pressure but our defense did a great job containing them. In the first half we were able to convert a penalty kick to put us up 1-0. In the second half TuWe scored to tie it up and the game finished 1-1. We were unable to convert many chances but that sometimes that’s the game.

Yesterday we had a game against Merilappi. We knew it wouldn’t be an easy game as it was our third time playing against them this season. We are both in the same position in the table and are ultimately striving to reach the same goal. The game started off with both teams applying pressure. It was a physical game with many individual battles throughout. We got on the scoreboard first in the 15th minute. Linda played a perfect ball through to Tess and she was able to place the ball by the keeper. Going into the half we were leading 1-0. The second half started and we were able to put more pressure on their end. Merilappi tied the score at 1 off a missed clearance. I went to play a back pass and the forward deflected it towards goal. A runner came through and slotted it in to tie. Immediately we went ahead 2-1. Brooke and her infamous half field shot came in clutch. For the second time this season she scored off the kick off. Roomies always got my back! With about 15 minutes left to play Merilappi tied it again at 2 off a cross. Their midfielder slotted a ball across the box. We were caught watching with 2 unmarked players in the box. The game finished 2-2. The tie keeps us in a good position in the standings and we still are able to control our future. I felt that in yesterday’s game we played a little better then we have been and we can still continue to improve. Merilappi is a good side and playing a team three times is never easy. I look forward to the final 4 games and I think the team is ready to keep working hard for the remainder of the season. Check back next week for a new blog, I promise not to keep all you readers on edge like that again!