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LIF Season 3.0 Game 2

This game was one to remember. For many reasons. It was hot. Yep, hot here in Ljusdal. I’m sure that 10 years ago when I played in this type of heat regularly, I would’ve felt fine. But this game got me. It’s official. My California sunshine self is becoming a Swede and the heat done for me in this game.

We played against a team that I again have a lot of history with. This team has always been a huge fight for us and these past 3 times we have met them, it was a fight to the last second. This game was no different. The first half felt like it would never end. Did I mention it was hot? And we play on artificial grass which raises the temperature for our poor feet. The first half started rough for me. Kind of ended that way too. They attacked and attacked my side with long balls and there was no choice but to run them down to help my outside back. Quick side note. That outside back is only 17 and has impressed me so much already this season. She is amazing one on one and I can’t believe how tough she is. I’m privileged to play in front of her. She saves me most of the time. So that’s what she did all first half. She did her job and part of mine too.
At half time I was at my wits end. I felt so defeated. I felt embarrassed. This was our first home game and I was playing with such fear and my body was so heavy. I could give you a bunch of excuses as to why this might be, but the reality is, I wasn’t playing to my potential and I felt so beaten down. And we still had another half to go. My coaches might have saved this game for me. I had been playing outside midfield the first half and they moved me to forward. I instantly felt conflicting feelings. First I was relieved. Then Mr Negativity showed I can’t hide from him even in a tiny town of Ljusdal, Sweden and I started to feel insecure. I felt that they were moving me because I was doing such a horrible job outside. Oh hush Mr Negativity. No one likes you. 

But ref I didn’t touch her!

But this was perfect. Playing up there felt like home. I felt strong and wasn’t as tired. Well, I didn’t have to run as much, but either way, it started to feel better. As my confidence grew, I took all those “me me me” bad thoughts and started to look around and realize how well my real was doing. Our center kids were winning all these balls in the middle. Our back line was winning huge tackles. Our keeper (didn’t actually have to use her hands much second half) was playing amazing balls from the back. Our outside mids were attacking and getting around their backs and giving us goal scoring opportunities. It was impressive. And it gave me confidence up the whazzu!
Then it happened. I realized that they were getting a little nonchalant in the back with the ball. Passing between the keeper and the backs and the midfielders like we were of no threat to them. So I pounced on a midfielder and rattled her a little. Then as they were starting to get a rhythm in the back, I saw their goalkeeper take a bad touch and I sprang into action and before I know it, a childhood dream had come true. 

You see. Sam and goalkeepers go way back. Both of my sisters are keepers. Most of my closest friends on any team I’ve played on have been goal keepers. They’re wacky and fun and usually really tall and what short person doesn’t want a tall friend to reach high stuff for them? The keeper we were playing against is actually a really good friend of mine. I lived with her here in Sweden on my first Swedish pro team. So that makes what I’m about to tell you a little bitter sweet. More sweet than bitter for sure. As she made a bad touch, I lunged forward and poked the ball from her. Poked again and got it and passed it in. I don’t even remember looking at the goal! But it went in! We won 1-0! Whaaatttt!? 

This team <3

And we had so many more moments after that. Before that too. Back line had bone crushing tackles! My center mids had long runs and shots on goal. We made them worrrkkk. And we worked for each other. And I want to take a moment to say, there are about 18 players on our team. That’s 18 mornings, 18 nights, 18 weeks that all are happening that have to come together on that field for one common goal. Some of us are having family problems, relationship problems, money problems, school problems, or just plain sad for no reason. But we come, we get together, we play. We get to play. It might be the only 90 minutes all week where we aren’t worried or scared or over thinking things. What a beautiful thing that is. Very thankful I have that in my life. 

Can’t wait to do it again next week!

First Days in Indiana Training Camp

Yesterday was my first day with the team. Boy have I missed them. They all came to pick us up for training. Every time I see them again after being away, it’s like a scene straight out of a movie. There’s a whole lot of laughing, smiling and unnecessarily  long jogging sequences that end in warm embraces where I’m usually lifted off the ground a couple times. If you don’t have an image yet, just watch the last scene of “Love Actually” where everyone is meeting their loved ones in an airport. I never feel as welcome as when I’m welcomed by my Haiti girls.

Although that was exciting, I should’ve saved more energy for practice, or should I say my two practices. The morning practice shouldn’t have been hard at all, but after traveling, a lot of simple tasks seem taxing. Waking up was one of those tough but necessary tasks I speak of. The second practice, we had a game. Yes. A game. Against men. Again, you read correctly, men. I was beat after the warm up, so you know that I was not in the best of predicament in the game. I was also  unaware that I am able to hold a grown man on my back as we both fell to the ground until yesterday‘s game. I should have told him that I charge a quarter for piggy back rides. I guess I’ll add it to my new coach’s tab. Either way, we played very well. We scored an amazing goal and stayed disciplined in the final 20 minutes and played some of the best soccer I’ve seen this team play. All in all, the day was long, but so glad to be back with my family.

Today, the simple task of getting up was not so simple. But I triumphed. We walked over to IHOP and I had a large stack of chocolate chip pancakes. Then we walked around WAL MART looking at sales we couldn’t participate in. Then we had a fun and short practice. But, throughout the day, I realized there’s a universal difference between what a coach thinks is an easy practice and what us players think is an easy practice. Someday I’ll crack that code.

I did recognize something, though. I’ve come in at the end of this season for these girls. Sometimes, when we get comfortable with our staff, we forget how amazing they are. So, to the FC Indiana staff, you’re amazing.  I appreciate everything you’ve done for these girls. And to my Breezy staff, I miss you dearly!!!

See you soon!

Travel Day to Play Australia

Today was a long day of travel. Yes, folks, I am traveling yet again. I left this afternoon to head to play with the Haiti National team in Indiana. We will play Australia on September 13, 2012. I am beyond excited to see my team tomorrow. I have missed them and wasn’t expecting to see them for quite some time.

As you can imagine, this has been quite the turn around for me. I got back from Europe on

the 27th and just moved into a new apartment yesterday. So, life has been busy busy busy these past two weeks leading up to coming here. But isn’t that what makes the life of a woman’s pro athlete worth while? One second we could be moving into a new apartment, and in an instant you could be in Indiana at 2am writing a blog to all of your adoring fans. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love this sport and the experiences it brings to my life.

I wasn’t sure if I would make it here today. I didn’t get much information about this trip

 

 

until a couple days ago. I also was very uneasy about leaving so soon after coming back from a pretty taxing trip. I’ve actually been complaining about that fact. “I just got back….I just moved into a new place…My back hurts from picking up way heavier than me furniture….” and so on and so forth. But when I sit back, here in the bathroom (because my roommate is sleeping), and think about what I am about to do tomorrow, I can’t help but feel like this is all a dream. I can’t help but kick myself for how ungrateful I can be sometimes. Do you ever just sit back and count all the good in your life? I know I count the bad all too much.

Well, today I am counting the good. I am here, in Indiana, where I will meet a team that has always changed my life. I get to play soccer with Haiti’s finest tomorrow. I get to play soccer, period.  Excited? No. Ecstatic! Complaining? No more. Now I will wake up, and, as Alena’s dad always says, “Seize the day!!!”