There are good things and bad things to say about our game against Velby today. We started the half off poorly. The defense was strung out, disorganized and unable to figure out the runs of Velby's only crafty forward. Our inability to stay compact in the first half caused several breakaways and allowed Velby to get a few shots off. Fortunately Velby's attack was unsuccessful in that respect. They scored however twenty-five minutes into the game off a corner kick. After going down a goal the defense figure out how to stay compact and organized. Once we made those changes, Velby's chances on goal were significantly reduced, but still went into half time down a goal.
The second half was completely different. Whatever the coach said at half time inspired the team to play better and we scored a beautiful goal 1 minute into the second half. My roommate did a rainbow over one of their defenders and made a spectacular pass to our other forward. The forward was able to blast a shot far post, just out of reach of the keeper to score. We also had several close chances on goal throughout the next 45 minutes and were able to capitalize once again fifteen minutes later. This was in part due to better organization in the defense. We figured out how to connect passes in the backfield around Velby's sole forward, which enabled us to generate an attack from the back.
After 94 minutes of play, the game ended 2-1 in our favor. The team was excited about the win, but disappointed in our first half performance. As I have been saying for a few months now, my team really needs to focus on the mental aspect of the game. We have to learn how to show up ready to play every game!
On another note, life has been exciting off the pitch. I met some American athletes living in Odense and we have spent much of last week and this week touring Denmark. We took a trip to the Odense Zoo and played with the baby goats, visited an "old Danish farming town" still completely maintained the same way it was hundreds of years ago, and took a trip to Germany. I must admit that it's been nice to hang out with fellow Americans after spending three and a half months completely immersed in Danish culture.
Lastly, my dad is coming to visit next week and he will get a chance to see one of my games. I am really looking forward to his trip and hope I can get a few days off to do some traveling with him!
More soon. Ve sis,
We had a huge match in Copenhagen on Wednesday night against #5, Skovlunde. The morning before the match, my roommate, Ndidi, and one of the starting center backs found out she had sit the match out because of too many yellow cards. In Denmark a player never really knows if she is going to sit out after two or three yellows, because the referee determines how severe the foul was and give the player a certain amount of points. Throughout a 9 month season, if your points add up to 16, you must sit the following match. Needless to say it came as a pretty big shock to her and the rest of the team.
Nerves were high as we stepped onto the field that night, but after my roommate, Shola, scored in the first few minutes we settled in and started to play with more confidence. However, the back line struggled to adjust to the new line-up in the first half and I had to make several big saves. Fortunately we scored first and held the lead 2-0 going into half time. The start of the second half was amazing. We came out on fire and my roommate, Shola, scored 3 goals!! With the help of the combination play in the midfield and the communication in the attack we we completely destroyed Skovlunde's defense. Despite Skovlunde's defensive breakdown, the attack never gave up. I was forced to make several more big saves in the second half and was kept busy until the final whistle. The game ended 7-0 in our favor with two individual hat tricks and a brilliant last minute goal from our center midfielder. Overall it was a fantastic match and boosted our confidence going into Friday's match.
Friday afternoon we hopped in the club van's and headed an hour west to play Vejle. This game was extremely important for us and determined who would go to the elite round of playoffs. Typically we play in women's stadiums or the men's second division stadium, but Vejle scheduled the match on their men's pro field, which was an awesome experience for us. The match however was not as exciting for my team. We started the game off poorly and gave up a goal in the first few minutes of play. Ten minutes after that they scored again off a set play which could have been easily avoided. Furthermore, there was such a huge disconnect between the midfield and defense that we were completely unable to create any sort of opportunity up top. We went into half time down two goals and came off the field with a defeated attitude.
The second half was better, but not by much. We got a few more shots off the second half, but most of them were wide or high. Vejle's did not generate too much of an attack in the second half, which took a lot of pressure off our backs and allowed us to play more in the midfield. Three minutes into injury time we scored off a header goal off a cross from the outside, but the match ended 30 seconds later with a 2-1 victory for Vejle. This was an extremely disappointing loss and put us in 5th place, out of the elite round of playoffs even though we were only one point away from the #3 and #4 teams. In many ways I wish that we worked more on the psychological aspect of the game because many of our losses have been a result of poor mental preparation on the team's part as a whole.
Even though we did not qualify for the top round of playoffs we still have to play 5 matches in a second bracket. We must forget the loss to Vejle and get ready for next week's match against Velby.
Spring has finally arrived which means all the teams in the league are trying to cram all of their make-up games into one week! Like many teams in the league we have three games this week in order to decide who will compete in the elite round of playoffs in two weeks. We kicked off our week of games on Friday, May 1st, also known as the Labor Holiday here in Denmark. Many people get the day off of work, so we played in front of a huge crowd! The game was against Sønderjyske, the #4 ranked team in the league. I will add that they are also 1 point ahead of us in the standings and only 4 teams make the elite round of playoffs. Needless to say this was a big game for us!
There was a special feeling stepping out onto the field last Friday night. The sun was still hung high in the sky and the air smelled sweet from the recent onset of spring and blooming flowers. The temperature was a perfect 70 degrees and the grass on our home pitch was finally groomed to our satisfaction. Throughout the warmup you could hear the crowd getting larger and you could smell the bbq coming from the concession stand. All in all it was a perfect setting for a great night of soccer.
The game started off in our favor because we won the toss and I didn't have to look into the setting sun! Defensively we were pretty tight the first half. I only had to make one big save in the first few minutes of the game, but aside from that my defense kept it clean! We scored fairly early in the game after several unsuccessful chances on goal. The offense looked great of Friday night and appeared to be communicating and playing off of each other very well. Our second goal came when one of our attackers was fouled in the box. My roommate, Shola, stepped up to take the PK and blasted in the back of the net, securing our 2-0 lead going into the second half.
The second half started out a bit different. Sønderjyske came out strong because they knew the significance of the game. Fortunately, the defense played well and Sønderjyske was only able to slip a few balls behind our back line for me to clear! Offensively we easily had another 4-5 solid chances on goal, but were unable to capitalize, which made the defense a little nervous the last 15 minutes of the game. My defense played with a lot of heart on and did everything they could to deny Sønderjyske the opportunity to shoot. Although the last few minutes of the game was not pretty, we managed to keep a clean sheet and win the game 2-0!
It was a huge win for us and put us 2 points ahead of Sønderjyske. We have two other games coming up this week against the #5 and #9 teams. These are dangerous games for us because the #5 team wants to take our place and the #9 team has nothing to loose and will throw everything they have at us. We need to stay focused and maintain a positive attitude going into these games in order to give ourselves the best chance of success!
Outside of soccer:
I have recently started coaching some young goalkeepers in my free time. It is fun to coach again, but slightly challenging with the language barrier. Most of these girls can speak English, but do not know "soccer words." Regardless I have a great time coaching them and enjoy watching them grow as players.
Also, now that it has warmed up, I have started going for drives to the beach and other villages on the island. I have included some photographs of the sea and of the beautiful mustard seed fields that have seemed to overtake the countryside. Denmark in the spring is truly a spectacular place!
That's all for now...more later.
OB captured the win and the shutout this weekend!! On a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon we played Kolding on our home pitch. It was a perfect day for a game, just the right temperature and not a cloud in the sky. It was also nice to finally play at home.
The game started off a little slow, but after ten minutes or so we settled in and began to play our game. We had control of the game throughout much of the half despite several quick transitional attacks from Kolding. The only major threat from Kolding was a former OB striker who is known for her quick first time shots. My center backs had been preparing to face her all week and did an excellent job of denying her an opportunity to shoot. On offense, we had several shots on goal, but we couldn't seem to get one in the back of the net.
In the second half the team came alive. About fifteen minutes into the half we got a free kick about 25yrds out and to the left of the goal. One of our center mids blasted a shot on goal over the keepers head. The ball hit the upper right side of the goal, deflected to the other post and finally went it. My coach Bjarne, described the goal as "a lucky punch," but it was exciting to watch nonetheless. The other two goals came quickly after. Many teams crumble after the go down 3 goals, but Kolding kept fighting. They are one of the only Danish teams I've seen to play aggressively for 90 minutes. My defense handled their intensity very well which made my job pretty easy in the second half. After 98 minutes of play (8 minutes of injury time), we finished the game with a 3-0 victory!
If we have won a game, we have a ritual in the lockerroom when the coaches walk in where everyone stands on the benches, claps and shouts something like out of a scene of Braveheart. It usually ends with our Nigerian players dancing around in a circle and one or two Danish players doing the "Twist." It is kind of an odd tradition, but it feels good to celebrate the win!
We have a long, hard week of training because our game this coming weekend has been moved to next Wednesday. Our coaches were nice enough to give us the weekend off, so I might take a trip to Germany on Saturday and head to Sweden on Sunday to watch the Swedish National team play the Brazilian National team in Malmö! It should be an exciting weekend.
Good luck to the Wildcats this weekend, have fun playing at Soldier Field :)
This past weekend we played #2 Brøndby and got blown out, 5-1. Unfortunately we are still having trouble showing up for big games. Although Brøndby is a good team and has some excellent Danish national team forwards, we still managed to give up some preventable goals. Our team plays a zone defense which is like many teams in the US, but unlike in the US we do not man-to-man mark in the box. We can get away playing that system against average teams, but we just could not compete with Brøndby's attackers using zone defense. I think was a wake up call for many girls on the team. This week we have reflected on game, identified some major issues and have been working hard at practice to make sure we are ready for this Sunday's game against Kolding.
On a more positive note, last week 5 of my teammates were called up to the U23 national team and 2 were called up from the U17 national team to the U19 team! These girls have been working really hard at practice and it has paid off. All but two of these girls are attackers, so it has been fun at practice taking shots from them! At morning shooting practice we always have some sort of a competition to see if they can get more goals past me than the saves I make :) It is a unique experience to train with these girls day in and day out and watch them develop.
Aside from soccer, I have had the opportunity to do a little more traveling. After the Brøndby game I took a 30 minute train ride to Sweden where I met up with an old friend I used to go to high school with. My friend Max is studying in Lund, near Malmö and was kind enough to show me around the city and take me to a Swedish bbq. We had a great time and it was really nice to catch up with an old friend.
Just a quick recap of last weekend's game. We played Skjold on Sunday afternoon at home. This is a team that is ranked below us in the league, but apparently OB has struggled to win against the previous three matches. Fortunately, Skjold's winning streak was crushed this weekend when we put 6 goals in their net and managed to keep the shutout! The first half was fairly exciting and I had to make a few saves from point blank shots. We only scored 2 of the 6 goals in the first half, so Skjold still fought pretty hard. After we put the third goal away, the goals just kept on coming. Our outside mids had some brilliant crosses to our forwards who finished with their heads. All of the goals were beautiful and were much need after being shut out by Fortuna two weeks ago.
On Thursday we have another match in Copenhagen against now #2 Brøndby. This team is know for their veteran players and have been quite successful the past two seasons. Despite Brøndby's reputation, my team appears to be eager and ready for the match. The past couple of days of training have been tough and productive, so I'm really looking forward to seeing if our preparation will pay off on Thursday.
I have added a few more pictures from Leigh's visit as well as a few from the game against Fortuna. Enjoy!
A visit from a current Wildcat and a lesson in the Danish school of soccer:
The reason for lack of updates these past two weeks is in part because of a visit from a member of NU's current team, Leigh Jakes. Leigh was kind enough to make the long journey across the Atlantic Ocean to Denmark for her spring break. Leigh and I crammed a lot of sightseeing into one week and I would venture to say that Leigh is now somewhat of an expert in Danish geography. She visited all three major land masses that make up Denmark, as well as some small islands off the coast of Fyn (the island that I live on). We also toured Copenhagen, numerous seaside villages and spent a day in Germany! Leigh even got to see what it was like to be a real professional when she joined us on a 4 hour bus ride (each way) to play Fortuna in north Jutland! All in all it was very exciting to see my former teammate and show her my new life in Denmark!
As I stated in my previous blogs, we had some very important upcoming games. Unfortunately the game against Malmö was cancelled and we lost the other two matches. Our first match against #2 Skovbakken was an exciting game until the very end. We led most of the game, but had trouble keeping the lead in the last 15 minutes. The mental game is not something that is stressed here as much as it is in the States which became most evident in both the Skovbakken and Fortuna games. The Skovbakken game was disappointing simply because it was a game we failed to play the full 90 minutes and had we, I think the result would have been different. The Fortuna game resemble the same lack of psychological training because many of the girls took themselves out of the game before it even started simply because many of Fortuna's players are on the Danish national team. I do however think the team learned some valuable lessons from these two games and are more prepared and eager going into this weekend's game.
Finally, I wanted to touch on some of the differences in the style of play here versus the systems I have played in the US. The Danish style is very technical with a high back line with balls played on the floor NOT in the air. This results in the defense constantly playing in high pressure situations with quick 1-2 passes up the field to relieve pressure instead of clearing the ball. This also means that I am playing 20 yards out of my box when we're in the offensive third to support my defense. For a majority of the game I play more as a sweeper keeper spending only a few minutes tending the goal box. It's so different, but good for developing passing accuracy and confidence with the ball at my feet.
More to come after this weekend's game verse SønderjyskE!
Today has been a beautiful sunny Sunday here in Odense! My roommate and I were out shopping all day and commented on how happy we were to finally see blue skies! Now that the sun has gone down, I thought I'd write a little recap of the week and the game. It has been a tough week at practice, fitness everyday and lots of high pressure drills. My coach, Erling, recently emphasized playing quick under pressure in the midfield. This means the rest of us were elected to be "defense dummies" - in some of the drills I felt like I was running around in circles hopelessly chasing the ball or my man! Aside from realizing how awful my defending is on the field, training has been rather productive. On Tuesday and Thursdays the other foreign players and I have morning training and then practice again in the evening with the rest of the team. On those days I get 2X the goalkeeper training and this week I got to introduce some American drills. The other keepers thought the drills were somewhat bizarre, but were really excited to learn something new. They were also amazed by how much I/American keepers attack the ball when diving. Kent, my keeper coach, had me demonstrate low ball dives for about 20mins. It has been interesting experience observing both the Finnish and Danish styles of goalkeeping; I'm learning that there are many ways to make the same save even though I am still partial to the American school!!!
As for the game yesterday, we were yet again successful and came out with a 4-3 win over Kolding! Despite the win however, it was an ugly match for both teams and I took a pretty bad hit to the face resulting in a bloody nose and black eye. As indicative of the score, there were many goals, most of which were preventable. To give my team some credit we were extremely tired from a week of fitness and we did not have any subs. I think we are all ready to move past this game and are looking forward to a lighter training week (we hope the fitness will taper) in preparation for the following week. In one weeks time we kick off the season with two important friendlies (Skovbakken and Malmö) and a league match against the #1 team, Fortuna!
More to Come!
Hi all! Here's a quick rundown of what I will be doing for the next few months and how I ended up back in Europe. As many of you know I played with Shannon Schneeman in Finland summer/last fall and then was asked to help out a Danish team for a couple of months. After that I spent a month with Chelsea in London, which was a fantastic experience! I returned home in December to spend the holidays with my family and in January, the Danish team asked me to join them for another season. So I found myself crossing the pond yet again in late February to return to, OB, in Odense...the home of Hans Christian Andersen (a fact one must know before stepping foot in the town). I will be spending the next five months playing "fodbold" in Denmark and trying to grasp yet another language!
Anyway, it's been almost two weeks since I arrived. We are in the thick of preseason and for any of those who have been through it, you can empathize with how sore, tired and excited I am to be playing soccer. All joking aside, it has been a great two weeks. We have played two games and won both! The first was quite challenging for a number of reasons. Firstly, the game took place two days after I arrived and I was suffering from severe jet lag. Secondly, the team, SønderjyskE, is ranked two ahead of us and there was an apparent rivalry between the teams. Thirdly, their offense was headed by two Danish national team players, so you can imagine when we gave away a PK in the first half I knew I was in for a difficult game. Fortunately, I stopped the PK and we were able to keep the lead the rest of the game! The second game we played was a friendly against our Juniors last Sunday. There's not too much to say about that game...we won 9-0; I think my roommate had 4 goals!
We have two or three weeks of preseason left, but we have some exciting scrimmages coming up. This weekend we play another Danish league team, Kolding and then Malmö FF on the 22nd. I am especially excited to play Malmö because they are one of the top clubs in Sweden and my former OB roommate and Brazilian national team player has just signed with them. It should be a good match and a great experience! We were supposed to start the season on the 22nd, but all of the league games have been postponed until April, I think it has something to do with the wonderful Danish weather ;)
For more information about OB you can visit http://www.ob-damer.dk/. To check the game schedule click on "Kampe og stillinger" in the left margin and then click 3F Ligaen.