Growing Together

Recap of Games vs. New Zealand & Finland

Often you can learn as much from a loss as you can from a win. There are always lessons to be learned from sports that pertain to the game and to life. How hard can you push yourself, how do you respond to adversity or making a mistake, how deep can you dig, and what are you willing to sacrifice? Sports challenge us to face our inner critics and to push our mental and physical limits to be successful. And whether you win or lose, there is always something to be gained.

Of course, everyone prefers to learn from winning rather than losing.

Our two games in the past two days have taught us a lot about our strengths, areas for improvement, and how to grow as individuals and as a team. The first game we lost, but in many ways it felt like a win. The second game we won, but it definitely felt like a loss. It came down to execution and playing as a team for 60-minutes.

Our first game against New Zealand was physical and intense. New Zealand is a talented team with good size and speed. We seemed to get a bit rattled at the idea of playing New Zealand and came out tight, making rushed decisions to get rid of the ball. In terms of skill, the game felt much closer than the final score of 13-4. We played with them, causing them to have more turnovers than we did. However, our shots weren’t finding the back of net, which is the way it goes some days. The team hustled and worked until the final whistle. The girls left it all on the field. Even though the score didn’t end up the way we wanted, it was clear to see that with a few adjustments, both mental and tactical, we could take a great deal away from the match.

The Finland game was a slightly different story. We came out strong, taking the lead by eight goals early in the first half. Then we got comfortable. We still hustled and worked hard, but we did not play Ireland lacrosse. As Finland started a solid comeback, we became a bit frantic on the field, making small errors that resulted in big plays for Finland. The team was visibly frustrated, as was the coaching staff. We ended the game 13-9, and everyone appeared a bit dejected. As the team walked silently into the locker room, Meg, Jackie and I reflected on what can be gained from this type of game. How can we use this experience where we focused outwardly instead of inwardly to draw a new level out of the team? What is our learning moment from this win that feels like a loss?

Meg is a great motivator and student of the game. She sees it through different lenses and knows what buttons to push when needed. She is a true competitor and looks to draw that out in each player. We had an excellent team meeting tonight where we discussed facing challenges. Every person on the team shared her perspective, allowing the team to get on the same page and to understand what motivates each other. The mood over the loss to New Zealand and the win over Finland provided the perfect climate to discuss essential lessons that will help us be more successful as a team in the future. I walked away from the meeting excited for us to play tomorrow. I think the team realized that it doesn’t matter who we play as long as we bring our passion, fire, confidence, work ethic, trust in each other, and PRIDE to the field. If we do that, we will be successful no matter the final score.

We are 3-1 in our bracket, which puts us in second place behind New Zealand. Although the win over Finland felt bittersweet, Bernie, Caroline’s grandad, made the point that “an ugly win is better than a beautiful loss”. True enough. Our game tomorrow against Germany is a crossover game and will not affect our place in our bracket. That will not stop us from coming out strong from the first whistle and playing OUR game until the final whistle. I know that we can do it, and I’m excited to see us in action tomorrow morning.

We had a great trip to Niagara Falls today, as well as Irish night at Trinity Pub last night for our incredible supporters. We have the best fans any team could imagine. Thank you to our many supporters, friends, and family who are cheering us on in Canada and from afar! I will write more about our fun excursions tomorrow.

For now, I’m off to visualize coaching our team to a victory tomorrow.




Starting Strong

Games vs. Latvia & the Netherlands

Two days. Two wins. Two players of the game.

My, oh, my what a year can do. Our first two games were decisive wins over Latvia on Thursday and the Netherlands yesterday. In the 2012 European Championships we lost to the Netherlands by one goal. In the past two games we have won by eleven goals, beating both teams 16-5. What a great way to start our tournament.

We came out strong in both games, notching a goal within the first minute of play. We hunted the ground balls and worked in teams to come up with possession. There were great individual efforts by many different players all over the field. Many different players could have been selected as the player of the game. However, the team effort and spirit is what impressed me the most. Every person on our team contributed to the wins.

The FIL selected midfielders Claire Halliday and Caroline Peters for “Players of the Match” against Latvia and the Netherlands, respectively. It is a huge honor to be selected, both personally and for Ireland. They both deserved it for their tireless effort on both ends of the field.

I wish that I had time to chronicle every minute of the games because they were action-packed and exciting to watch. For more of the amazing photos, click here. If you want to watch the games live or download them for later, click here. You can purchase the games to watch there. For scores, you can “like” the 2013 Women’s Lacrosse World Cup page on Facebook. I will try to be better with updates, but my primary focus needs to be in the present moment to help Ireland be the best we can be.

We play New Zealand today at 2 pm EST. It should be a physical and intense game, as we are both coming in 2-0 with convincing wins over our opponents. We have done our best to be prepared, and the girls seem confident and collected. WISH US LUCK!!


Opening Ceremonies

You could see, hear, and feel the significance of tonight’s World Cup Opening Ceremony. Colorful flags painted the dimming sky with the vibrant colors of nineteen countries. Bursts of cheering broke the constant hum of people singing their nation’s anthem or talking amongst themselves. Pride exuded from each player as they held their heads high and entered the stadium, covered head to toe in team gear or their country’s traditional dress,

The following nineteen countries are participating in the 2013 World Cup:

Australia, Austria, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Haudenosaunee, Hong Kong, Ireland, Isreal, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden, United States, and Wales

Before the ceremony began the organizers brought all the teams into the field house to escape the heat. When the teams first arrived, most took team pictures and stayed together. Within a few minutes, people started drifting and players from different teams began mingling and taking pictures with new friends.

Amber Falcone with the team. Amber coached at Vanderbilt University and bonded with the team when Vanderbilt played Ireland in Rome this past June.

Team USA & Ireland

Everyone we met was friendly and as excited as we are about being here and getting started. This level of lacrosse demands an incredible work ethic, determination, dedication of time and energy, and a driving passion. Every team dreams of winning the gold medal and wants to represent their country in the best possible way. These common beliefs and understanding unite us, even though we are competing against each other and there are many different cultures present. They form a common thread for all of the nineteen teams to grasp. So while we may not all speak the same language, we understand each other as fellow athletes and competitors. And ultimately, win or lose, we will leave with new friends from all over that may be friends for life.

We followed Hong Kong out to the pitch where we were greeted by cheering fans, including my adorable girls from my club team at home called Scout. The ceremony procession led us in a circle, allowing us to watch the Haudenosaunee team perform a traditional song and dance. There was something special and unforgettable about standing in a circle with all the teams, their flags waving. The ceremony began with a blessing from a local elder of a nearby tribe. They went on to welcome the teams and thank the organizers for all of their hard work. Different people took oaths on behalf of the players, teams, and referees.

My eyes kept being drawn to the flags. I love watching them dance gracefully in the air telling a story of their country with just a piece of cloth. Rebecca did a fantastic job of holding the flag all day. Near the end of the ceremony her flag went rogue and was waving in all directions. She told me that all the other flags were “well-behaved” while her flag was being “naughty”. I almost lost it because it was very true. I looked around to find all the other flags waving gently in the wind while Ireland’s flag wouldn’t stop moving in every direction. True to form, Ireland cannot stand to be ordinary. Even our unruly flag.

Once it was over, we headed home after seeing friends and family. We are ready for our first game tomorrow against Latvia. We play at 10 am and we are excited! Everyone else is in bed, so I will sign off now so I can be sharp on the sidelines.

Thank you to all the Ireland supporters out there! Here we go, Ireland, here we go!!

Check out the great photos from Game Day of the opening ceremonies. I borrowed some of their photos here, and they are quite excellent. What a great way to start the tournament!





Exhibition Day

World Cup: Exhibition Game vs. Sweden

Yesterday was another great step for Ireland lacrosse. We have been eating, training, and sleeping at the Residence Inn at Durham College in Oshawa. Getting to the World Cup facilities and seeing life-size posters of players from different teams all over made this whole process feel real. All the practice and meetings were leading up to the biggest event in women’s lacrosse worldwide: the World Cup.

The lobby at the facility was bustling with girls donned head to toe in their team’s gear, clearly marking what country they represent. There was a buzz in the air as certain renowned players walked by, with conversations breaking out about whose who and what teams are the strongest. Teams seem to size each other up in passing, sometimes sharing waves or smiles while other times staring stonily forward.

We took our team picture and then headed to the pitch to prepare for Sweden. The girls passed around on one of the fields where we will be playing throughout the tournament. The feel of turf after a week of playing on thick grass fields was a great improvement.

Our opening game against Sweden was charged with high energy and anticipation. Although it was an exhibition game, the team came prepared to play their hardest. The Sweden game from the 2012 European Championships still had a residual sting. We lost in double overtime by one goal. That game was particularly frustrating because we had two of our best players, Caroline and Katelin, sidelined by yellow cards from previous games and then I went down with my knee injury. It felt like the win slipped through our fingers last year, and we wanted to avoid that happening again.

As the team took the pitch for the draw, I realized how excited I was to be able to coach this team. From the first draw it was evident that we had massively improved from 2012 Euros and from our first practice just a few days before. We won the first draw and went down to score a quick goal. Solid start. The team battled for every ground ball and came up with the ball or at least a call almost every time. We used to just go immediately for the check and be sent four meters behind. We made the change and the results were instant. If the girls continue to make the little adjustments that we emphasize, it will be a great week of games.

The play was a bit frantic in the beginning with most people passing to the first cutter, which often was guarded much more closely than the second. However, we got it sorted throughout the game. The hustle and heart was apparent all over the field. Girls were trusting each other with long passes instead of just running the ball themselves. Goals were scored off of unselfish cuts and passes. Mistakes were made and breakdowns in communication happened as well. That is normal for any sport. The importance is what happens after the mistake. Get frustrated and point fingers or move on and work harder. We worked harder.

We finished the game with a 9-1 win and a clearer picture of what is working and what needs work. Meg an incredible understanding of the game and how to get the best from each girl. I guess that is what happens after winning four National Championships at Maryland and coming off two consecutive National Championship wins at CW Post. It is great to learn from her and from Jackie. We each bring a slightly different coaching style or take on things, which seems to complement each other.

Celebrating the win over Sweden in style

When we returned the dorms, the team prepared for the epic battle for best version of Ireland’s National Anthem sung in Gaelic. Last year we had two stellar performances, though I’m happy to report my team won. :) Instead of doing two renditions the two teams surprised everyone by blending together to make an Ireland flag, very creative if you ask me. They said that we were one team and united together. Maybe a good excuse to get out of singing in a small group, but I love their rationale.

Action shot mid-anthem

After the cheers died down for their performance, Meg announced our 2013 World Cup captains: Katelin Billups, Rebecca Headon, Robyn Morris, and Devin O’Leary. Devin is an addition from the 2012 captain squad and brings a great deal of leadership, knowledge, and personality to the group. We were thrilled with who the team selected and know that the captains will do a tremendous job leading the team throughout this journey. The loud and the proud Rebecca Headon will have the honor of carrying the Irish flag. She, Orla, and Robyn were all part of the 2009 World Cup games (Orla carried the flag in 2009), and it is great for the program that they are all still here and major parts of this team.

We are getting ready to head out to the Opening Ceremonies. It will be the first time seeing all of the 19 teams in one place. I’m sure that I will have many rounds of goosebumps. To watch the opening ceremonies live and for free, click here! The ceremonies begin at 4:30 pm EST. It is a great chance to see what the World Cup is all about, so I hope you can watch and cheer when you see these girls in green!

Tomorrow we have our first match against Latvia at 10 am. One more sleep. We are ready. And all tatted up in pride.



Oh, Canada!

Day One & Two: World Cup Training Camp & Recap

World Cup 2013! Woohoo!

What an incredible experience to participate in the highest level of competition for women’s lacrosse and to get to share it with talented women from 19 countries worldwide. Teams have been arriving over the past two days to the campus where all the teams are housed, filling the hallways with different accents, country colors, and many familiar faces.

I have been meaning to write since arriving here on Saturday, July 6th. Between three practices a day, team meetings, coaches meetings, eating, and sleeping, I have found very little energy to do anything but plop on the nearest soft surface. And I’m not even playing!

It would be virtually impossible to capture all that has happened since my plane touched down three days ago. I feel like I have been here for at least a week, and I mean that in the absolute best way. As a staff we have been working hard to cram in as much conceptual material as possible without overworking the girls’ brains and bodies. Every girl on the team is like a sponge. They improve with each passing hour and are eager to learn and play. We have had five practices and one scrimmage in the past two days. Despite heat and inevitable soreness, the team is energetic and positive. I have come to expect nothing less from Ireland lacrosse.

In the hope of getting into a rhythm of writing about the World Cup, here is a recap of the past 48-hours.


A majority of the Ireland team arrived on Saturday at Toronto airport. Long flights, jetlag, and flight delays did not dampen anyone’s spirit. As I walked through the terminal looking for the team, I was dragging with fatigue. I got married in June and it has been a wonderful whirlwind of events leading up to my arrival in Canada. However, it has been non-stop for over a month and all I wanted was a nap.

All of my fatigue vanished as soon as I saw the Ireland girls. Their enthusiasm and excitement was contagious. I found myself immersed in conversations and laughing to the point of tears within minutes of my arrival. It felt like coming home.

In the midst of all the excitement of being reunited with women whom I had missed more than I realized, I had a pang of sadness. I realized that I would not be playing along with them, but standing on the sidelines coaching them. I worried that things would change, and I would struggle with my new role.

The fear disappeared as quickly as it arrived as I looked into the faces of the Ireland girls. They supported and encouraged me. Yes, things would change. They already had. But change is good. We have many new, talented, and wonderful players. We have a completely new coaching staff. We are ready for anything…and excited to begin.

Meg, our Head Coach, and Jackie, the other assistant, were some of the last to arrive. Not having met Meg before, I did not know what to expect. We have talked and emailed a great deal, but that is not the same as meeting someone. I knew Jackie and I were going to be thick as thieves based on our trip to Ireland in the Fall. As soon as I saw Meg, I relaxed. She greeted me with her easy smile and made me feel instantly comfortable. I knew that it was going to be a great partnership in the coaching staff, and it has proven to be even better than I expected.

After the last person exited the customs’ doors, greeted by cheering and waving teammates, we loaded up a school bus–a first for most English and Irish girls–and headed to our home for the next two weeks: Oshawa.


Meg started practice off with this quote at 8 am Sunday morning: “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” The girls seemed to absorb the words and their play reflected it. Girls were battling for balls, hustling to the end of every drill, and pushing themselves to be better with every play. By the end of the first practice I was so excited for the next session. This was a new team and a new year. Our year. As coaches we couldn’t wait to keep working with the girls and molding the team into what we wanted it to become.

The following four practices and the scrimmage against Scotland showed that we are heading in the right direction. We are feistier, faster, and fitter than we were at Euros. From last year to this year I have seen significant improvements and changes in the team. Many things are different now, but one aspect remains the same. PRIDE. Ireland pride runs deep to the core of every player, coach, manager, and director involved with Ireland lacrosse. It is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to represent Ireland.

We have been lucky to get great Ireland gear from Brine, Force5, Opro, and other companies. It feels like Christmas to receive all the goodies from Larry, our wonderful equipment manager. The custom Brine stick is already a hit with other teams, and I really appreciate my friend Kathleen Miller coming through for us with the sticks, goggles, and goalie gear. Every team needs a little swag.


Tomorrow the real fun begins. We have an exhibition match against Sweden in the morning, followed by a day packed with team pictures, facility tours, practices, and meetings. While it is a busy day, it also launches us into the reason we are all here…to compete in the World Cup. I can hear that team buzzing with excitement to suit up into their team uniforms for the first time and step on the field representing Ireland.

We ended tonight’s meeting with my favorite song, “Ireland’s Call”. Jackie and I both gets chills, or “goose pimples” as some girls would say, each and every time we hear the song. Talk about pride.

In two days the real games begin. We will continue to savor every moment of the next two weeks because this is a once in a lifetime event. In four years there will be new players and some returners. But all we can focus on is right now and making it everything we hoped it could be. I am confident it will be all that and even more.



World Cup Trials: Day One

It’s hard to believe that it has been over four months since the European Championships in Amsterdam. When we all met tonight in Dublin for trials to select the 2013 World Cup team, it felt like only a few days had passed since we were arm-in-arm singing “Ireland’s Call” at the top of our lungs to our loyal fans.

Most of the 2012 team came for tryouts, allowing a mini-reunion before getting on the pitch. Although email and Facebook allowed us to stay relatively connected, the internet cannot replace the hugs and laughs we share in person. Plenty of new faces were also in the crowd, including a girl who flew over from the states only to discover that she was not in fact eligible to play.

While my 2012 teammates shed layers to prepare for trials, I put on my hat and gloves. Instead of my stick, I picked up my whistle.

I crossed the line from player to coach.

My collision in our seventh game against Sweden left me with two fractures my leg and a much longer recovery process than desired. I just got off crutches three weeks ago, and the doctors said that I would be pushing it to be 100% by the World Cup. I was devastated. Playing with the Ireland team was a highlight in my lacrosse career and life.

When I received the offer to coach instead of play, I was torn between two great options. Grateful to have a choice at all, I went back and forth weighing all the issues. Either way, I knew that I would still be part of Ireland lacrosse, which has become more important to me than I ever imagined when I showed up for trials a year ago. Was it worth it to take a spot on the team and pass up an incredible opportunity to coach when I wasn’t sure I would be in a condition to play at my fullest?

No. Plain and simple.

I love coaching, and I’m grateful to start this new journey with the Ireland team. Fortunately, the team was really supportive, which made this transition easier. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from this group of girls.

We have a completely new coaching staff this year. Lauren had to step down as Head Coach because she just had her first child, Danny, and being away for long periods of time would be too difficult. Krista just had her son, Jaxon, three days ago, and Jackie had other commitments. We are all thrilled for Lauren and Krista and the two newest additions to the Ireland Lacrosse fan club!

Similar to the prior staff, all of the coaches have a history with the team. Jackie Coyne, the other assistant, played on the 2008 European Championships team and Meg McNamara, Head Coach of Ireland and CW Post, coached the 2009 World Cup team, as well as other years. Unfortunately, Meg couldn’t attend, but we have Julie Clark, 2008 and 2009 team player, and John Cavanaugh, head of Ireland Lacrosse, to help make selections for the 2013 team.

And we have some selections to make! I was really impressed by the overall level at trials tonight. Many players have improved and there were new players who brought a lot to the pitch. It is exciting to see how Ireland Lacrosse is growing stronger every year. After two hours of drills and scrimmaging, we knew that there would be some tough decisions to make. Luckily, we have two more days of great competition to figure it out.





Recap & Reflections

The roar of our fans was deafening. Flags were flying. People were singing, dancing, and cheering at the top of their lungs.

It was a celebration of celebrations.

No one would have ever known we just lost.

The men’s team lost 5-15 to the English team. But no one cared. We were so proud of the men for making it to the European Finals that we may have well won. We cheered long after the English fans grew weary of us drowning them out, causing them to grow silent and stare enviously at our party. We kept celebrating until the men got their medals and jumped into the stands to sing and dance with us. And the celebration continued all night long.

I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I felt part of something much bigger, swept up in the excitement and euphoria of Ireland lacrosse. Our pride and energy caused us to win the title of “Best Supporters” of the European Championships. Not a gold medal, but we will take it!

It has been three weeks since the final game. I promised myself to post updates every day, but the days blended together, making the championships feel like an alternate reality.

My knee is a daily reminder that the championships were not so long ago. I hyper-extended it in our game against Sweden, side-lining me for our final rematch against the Netherlands. Convinced it was a MCL tear, I chastised myself daily for babying my knee and limping about. I learned two days ago that I fractured my tibial plateau in the impact, which is why I was still in such pain when walking. No surgery, but I’m on crutches for the next three months. Quite a souvenir! However, I took so much more away from the experience than an injured knee…

I made great friends from all over the globe. I played midfield for the first time and fell in love with the ability to play both sides of the field. I loved being part of a team, especially a team that represents Ireland with such fierce pride. I learned to be gentle with myself when I’m injured, as I would be to others in that same situation. I experienced true camaraderie between the men’s and women’s teams that was unparalleled by any other team at the tournament or any other team I’ve been part of. I learned how to be a better coach by being a player again.

Our team did not end the tournament as we hoped. We tied one game and lost our last two games by one goal. The difference between 5th and 8th place. While it was disappointing to end in 8th place, we grew a lot as a team during our trip together. We all took away something different from the trip, but we will always share our time as the 2012 Ireland European Championship team.

I’m not sure what the future holds for me. I have to focus on healing my knee so I can get back to coaching full-time and training for our October trials. I don’t know if I will be ready for tryouts, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it. I can’t rush my bones to heal, though I wish that I could.

I know our 2012 Ireland team will never be the same again. I hope I’m part of the team, but we shall see. Either way, I’m honored to have been part of this team and to have had this incredible experience. Thank you to all the people who supported me. I am so appreciative for every text, post, email, call, and hug that I received.

Hope to see you in the 2013 World Cup. GO IRELAND!

Some fun pics…

Finishing Strong!

Day 7, Women’s: Ireland vs. Sweden, L 14-13, Double Overtime

Men: Ireland vs. Sweden, Semi-Final, W 13-8…On to the FINALS vs. England

“That’s what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose, how we’ve changed because of it, and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning.”   – Richard Bach

Losing a close game always feels much more devastating than getting blown out by a team. Especially if you knew that you were the better team. We were in it today until the final whistle, two overtimes later.

The sun beat down on us, zapping any lingering reserves of energy we had stored. Exhaustion was etched into every face. Sweat dripped generously from our brows. Bruised and tired, we fought until the end when we lost in sudden death.

At this stage of the tournament, so much comes down to legs. We were low on subs to begin with and getting into a footrace with two speedy Sweeds was out of the question today. In spite of everything, many people stepped up ad played their hearts out. Devon, our resident race horse, ran up and down the field like a gazelle, while I felt like an elephant with legs like lead.

Ironically, my leg feels the exact opposite now. More like jello. I went down early in the second half with what appears to be a MCL sprain from hyper-extending it. I went for an interception and a girl fell into me, causing my knee to go in an unnatural direction. I tried to come back into the game, but my knee gives out when I try to pivot, causing waves of nausea and pain. Hopefully it is just a sprain, but I will know more once the swelling goes down.

As a player, the tournament is over for me. As an avid Ireland supporter, I am getting into rare form. I’m disappointed about my knee because we face the Netherlands tomorrow, and I would like nothing more than to personally avenge our bogus tie with them. However, I will be talking it up on the sidelines as we vie for seventh place.

This is not the path that we had hoped for heading into the tournament. Obviously, we would like to be competing for a medal. Gold, preferably. However, we learned a great deal, came together as a team without much team training whereas every other team has been practicing for months, and we improved every match. Unfortunately, we didn’t win it all, but who knows what the future holds? This team is scrappy, athletic, and determined. A good combination for success.

Tomorrow is our last day together as a team. After this we will go our separate ways, always sharing the bond of the 2012 Euros. I can’t quite believe it is already over. In some ways it feels like we’ve been here forever, and others, like we’ve just begun. This team will change with some people leaving and some new ones coming. But tomorrow we will celebrate together. Even though we didn’t win a medal, we came a long way as a team. We have a lot to be proud of. And this is not the last you will hear of Ireland lacrosse.

Speaking of…THE MEN’S TEAM ARE IN THE FINALS TOMORROW! They take on England at 7 pm tomorrow night. It is so exciting for our program, and I am ecstatic for them. They are a great group of guys who were not anticipated to take the tournament by storm. Don’t sleep on the Irish! Our team will be there in full effect, cheering, screaming, singing, and waving our flag. The guys have supported us in a similar way for most of our matches, and it really makes a difference. There’s nothing quite like being on the pitch and hearing lots of people screaming your name and cheering you on. We will bring our A game for their game.

No matter what, the men’s team is doing Ireland proud. It’s great for our program and a testament to how hard the guys have worked. They played England during the tournament and lost by four. Small potatoes. We can do it. GO FOR THE GOLD, IRELAND!!! We believe in YOU!

Playing as a Team

Day 5: Ireland vs. Switzerland, W 20-5

Solid win over Switzerland. It was not our prettiest game, but we were still able to pull out twenty goals from many different shooters. My roommate Meabh, #7, and Aoife, #11, both scored their first international goals, and Aisling, #10, was tallying up the assists. I nearly went nuts when Meabh scored. I was out at the time, but otherwise I would be caught on film jumping all over the place.

With Aoife and Meabh celebrating their first international goals! Awesome job!

Vanessa, Caroline, and I all had four goals on the day and hope to repeat that trend again today against Wales. With the draw against the Netherlands, we were hoping that our goal differential would be better, placing us in third going into the Quarterfinals. Germany only beat the Netherlands by one, so we move on to take on the reigning European Champions today at 5 pm. More to come about that.

We had a rocky start to the game yesterday, our mood matching the overcast day. Luckily, we picked it up with some key saves by Amy in net and found more of a rhythm on attack. The refs are very conservative with calls, so we have had to be really disciplined when it comes to just about everything. Checking is pretty much out of the picture unless you want to end up four meters behind with annoyed coaches on the sidelines.

This check against England wasn’t called, but I am opting for body position from here on out.

The photographers are slacking on posting photos from our last three games. I hope that they put some up soon, so you can see us in action. Hopefully they will at least post some pictures from the men’s Quarterfinals against Germany. The men lost to Germany in regular play by one goal in triple overtime. Yesterday, they came out with fire, putting Germany on their heels and scoring relentlessly. The took the win and my voice. I was screaming and singing so loudly that my throat is raw. Our team supported them in full effect, including using a drum, flag, and even some face paint. That’s how we roll.

Getting ready to crush Germany!

Random fan celebrating the victory!

After the game, we came back to the hotel to prepare for our big game today. Luckily we have until 5 pm to prepare to be giant killers. The men’s game yesterday reminded us how heart, determination, and fire can be the perfect ingredients for success.

Wales is an excellent team. So are we. We just need to put sixty minutes of excellent play together and leave everything on the field. Then, no matter what happens, we will be proud of the outcome.

While I’m staying positive mentally, my body is betraying my hidden nerves. My stomach is all over the place and my dreams were filled with lacrosse. We need to play with the same defensive composure that we did against the Netherlands with the attacking prowess as we had against Austria and Switzerland.

I was honored to get the “player of the game” for marking out the Netherlands best player. Shifting to straight defense felt like coming home in a weird way since I played that for most of my career. However, I have to admit that notching some goals has been really fun as well. I can see how attackers love finding the back of the net. So far Laurie, Vanessa, Katelin and I have received player of the game, though there are many other players who are extremely deserving as well. Caroline and Devon both being prime examples for their play all over the field.

My hope for today is that the entire team receives the “player of the game” honor. Meaning we all play so well that it would be impossible to select an individual. It starts with the draw. Sixty minutes. Composure. Determination. Heart. And the will to win.



Day 4: Ireland vs the Netherlands, Tie 6-6

Today, I had my first draw since little league soccer. Our game was neck-and-neck, trading possessions, fouls, and goals with the Netherlands. We were evenly matched, and it was a fun game to play. It was the first time that we really looked like a cohesive unit all over the field.

We were up by three goals after a heroic effort by the attack, with Caroline leading the charge. A stick check call after a goal changed the momentum a bit, disallowing the third goal and opening the window for the Dutch. We allowed the Netherlands to get two quick goals to tie it up with less than a minute to play. With less than thirty seconds on the clock, I pulled a charge against the Dutch, much to my great relief. My girl was like a bowling ball on feet, with a fierce shot to boot.

When the whistle sounded both teams were fired up for overtime. We wanted to end it. Knowing for sure which team would claim third place in our bracket. Excited and energized, we ran to our huddle awaiting information about overtime.

But that was it. The end of the game. No winner or loser, just a draw. In the European Championships?!? Talk about a let down. We were at the boiling point and then we were taken off the burner, frustration brewing beneath the surface.

Tomorrow will be a day of truth. If the Netherlands lose to Germany, we will be tied in our bracket. This is assuming we win against Switzerland. If we win and they lose, then it comes down to point differential. We have the first game of the day, so we need to score, score, and score some more to put us in the best position possible to vie for third.

I played straight defense today to mark out their main scorer. It was fun to be on d, but I missed the action of attack. I have no clue where I will play tomorrow, but I will do anything the coaches want if that means we will win. I would be the water girl, play goalie, or dance the Macarena if needed. Actually, the Macerena would be an added benefit.

Our phrase today was “no fear”. We played fiercely, with much more control and composure than in prior games. We played with heart and pride, but we never gave up or let down, even when calls did not go our way. We dug deep, and I believe that we would have come out with another W if we were allowed to do overtime.

At the end of every game we sing “Ireland’s Call” to the fans. Even though I was frustrated with the tie and a sore hamstring, I am transformed by the song. We sing with so much soul, and the song in itself makes you bleed green pride for Ireland. I am trying to get a video of us belting out the words with our supporters joining in for the refrain of “Come the day and come the hour. Come the power and the glory. We’ve come to answer our country’s call, from the four proud provinces of Ireland. Ireland, Ireland, together standing tall. Shoulder to shoulder we’ll answer Ireland’s call!” Ahh, gives me chills just writing it. Such a powerful song.

And what supporters we have…

I’m off to bed. We have an early AND important match against Switzerland tomorrow. I cannot express my gratitude for all the support from the states, especially from my amazing boyfriend, family, clients, and friends. THANK YOU! It gives me so much energy and you are here with me in spirit. Keep sending those good vibes. We can use them!

GO IRELAND! And good luck to the men who play a BIG game against Germany tomorrow!