On Friday, March 2, the CUA women's soccer team departed Washington for Portugal where the Cardinals spent their spring break. During their time overseas, the Cardinals submitted a series of blog entries to keep family, friends and fans updated on their travels.
March 10 – Wrapping up a terrific trip
Last night we played our third and final game against 1 Dezembro, the best women's club team in all of Portugal. Kickoff didn't start until a little after 9:15 pm. We were anxious and a little nervous at first, so we weren't quite on top of our game. We were very hesitant and a step behind the play so unfortunately they scored a couple of early goals to put them ahead. After 30 minutes of play, most of their reserves came on and they were still just as good as the senior players who started.
We made a few adjustments at halftime and as the game progressed we stepped up and started to play smarter, and even scored an excellent goal by Tricia off a corner kick taken by Annie. The goalkeeper for their U18 team played for us and gave up a few more goals but it didn't matter. Although the final result wasn't what we hoped for it was an amazing experience and we could take a lot from this game. They play quick and their first touch is on point. We learned that no matter what happens we always need to keep our heads up, and no matter who we are playing, we need to play Catholic soccer like we know how.
This morning we woke up and had our final breakfast as a team at the hotel, and by breakfast I mean A LOT of bread and croissants. I feel that is all I ate this entire trip! We got on the bus and headed to the airport in Lisbon where we said our final goodbyes to our favorite tour guide Filipe and our two study abroad teammates, Caitlin and Katie. It was sad that this week came to an end so quickly but we still had a long journey ahead of us to get back to DC.
Our first flight from Portugal to Paris was short and sweet, only a mere two-and-a-half hours and we all passed out for the entire flight. After a short layover in Paris we headed back on the plane for the 8-hour flight back to DC, finally landing at Dulles Airport at 7:15 pm (mind you it was after midnight Portugal time). We were all exhausted from a full day of flying and still had a 45 minute bus ride back to CUA.
What we thought would be the easiest part of the trip home turned out to be the worst as we got on the bus and it wouldn't start -- at this point we knew it was going to be a long ride to campus. We slowly made it into the district then the bus began to stall at every traffic light. What should have taken only 10 minutes through the city took about 30. Thankfully, we finally pulled into the Duf at 10 o'clock sharp.
All in all, this trip to Portugal was truly an experience I will never forget. I'm so grateful to have had an opportunity like this. From all the sightseeing to playing soccer every day, our days were busy and we were tired but we wouldn't have changed anything. We grew as a team and came closer every day. I am eager to see what the 2012 season has in store for us.
-- Lauren Cadott #13
March 9 – Our time in Portugal is coming to an end
For the last two days we have spent our time amongst the people and lifestyles of Portugal. Yesterday morning, we started off by taking the metro over to Benfica's stadium where we were able to enjoy it without the massive crowds of people. The game on Tuesday night was great but the main reason we went was to shop in the Benfica Megastore.
From there we went across the street to the biggest mall in the Iberian Peninsula called Colombo where we had lunch and free time to look around and shop. After that, we hopped on the bus for our second practice with Nuno and David at the Jamor National Sport Center.
It was a calm practice since we've been pushing hard all week and our legs needed a break. We worked on improving our passing, thinking off the ball, and 4 v 4 situations. All in all, everyone agreed that practice was much needed and we each walked away with something new to bring to our style of play.
After dinner, we had some time to rest before taking on the Lisbon nightlife and celebrating Haley's birthday. We had the chance to see where the university students enjoy their time away from studies.
This morning, we had an opportunity to sleep past 8 o'clock for once, which is exactly the amount of sleep everyone needed. Around noon, we went to the city center for some lunch and a few hours of shopping. We all picked up gifts for our family members and friends. While doing this, it was clear that Portuguese fashion is much different than back in the States.
We are now back in our hotel rooms resting before our biggest match of the week against a club called 1 Dezembro. They are the eleven-time national champions of Portugal. Although nervous, we're very anxious to play them and see what we can take away from the game.
It is hard to believe this trip is coming to an end. We have been able to grow closer as a team, make endless memories, and see a new style of soccer that we can take back with us to CUA. We are sure that this experience will help us as we prepare for next fall.
March 7 – Game number-two
Today was a very eventful day in Lisbon. We started off by missing breakfast, but grabbed some food to go before heading off on our walking tour. Filipe showed us all of the cool parts of the city with great views. Our favorite view was probably the one over looking part of the city with the river in the background. Luckily for us, there was a local Portuguese man playing guitar while we took our panoramic pictures of the city.
Filipe took us to a great traditional Portuguese place for lunch, people ordered dishes with seafood, meat, and even a slice of pizza. Personally, I think the best dish was mine (meaning Katie's) and Cait Conroy's; we ordered the Chef's choice dish, which was seafood rice. We were waiting for our dish to come because everybody else's had already arrived and out comes this huge pot that was filled with an assortment of seafood and rice in this delicious red sauce. Somehow we ate all of the seafood and shared with the table.
After taking a nap, laying low and eating dinner we made our way to play Clube Futebol Benfica. They play in Portugal's First Division of women's soccer and made it to the Portuguese Cup final last season. While the stadium was in a kind of shady area outside of town, you could clearly tell that the club had a tradition of greatness.
As we stepped onto the field at "Fofo" (the club's nickname) we had it in our minds that we just needed to keep progressing and make today's game better than Monday. Fortunately, the other team had three goalies, so we actually got to play with a Portuguese player on our side! Fofo was extremely skilled and some of their outside players were really fast! We came out pretty hard in the first half, but fell down into a 1-0 hole after a strong counterattack, that may or may not have been onsides.
In the second half we made a few adjustments and played even better. The ball was in our half less and we had more offensive opportunities all the way up to the last couple of minutes. It was a really great experience to get to play against such a skilled team that played such a different style of soccer than we are used to. Final score was 1-0, but we feel good about it.
Overall the past few days have been great - we are playing soccer, seeing a beautiful city and even reuniting with our teammates that are abroad – not a horrible way to spend a spring break!
-- Katie Donatelli #2 and Noelle Arcomano #18
March 6 - Greetings from Lisbon!
Today has been a long day. After a crazy night with the team we played against in Porto, running on limited sleep made us a group of cranky girls. We traveled three and a half hours to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Again, we slept most of the way. When we were not sleeping, looking out the window was entertaining. There were cows, horses and goats roaming around with farmers.
When we reached the city we began our panoramic bus tour. We traveled up and down the famous avenues and boulevards in this ancient city. We then stopped at an amazing monastery on the river and saw the 25th of April bridge which is very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Soon after, we were forced to eat the quickest lunches of our lives in order to make it to our afternoon practice session on time. We even had the luxurious experience of changing into our practice clothes on the bus.
We all really had to go to the bathroom, but they wouldn't let us go because we hadn't bought anything from the store; consequently we had to hold it for the entire practice. Our practice was led by the former coach of the Portugal women's national team, a man named Nuno Cristovao and his friend named David Caetano. They were both great coaches and they gave us a lot of insight on the game and by the end of our practice, we completely forgot about our urge to use the bathroom.
When we got back to the hotel, we were given our room assignments and had to speeeeeeeeeed through showers and get ready for the UEFA Champions League game at Benfica's famous Estadio da Luz.
The game was nothing like any of us have ever experienced before; the whole atmosphere was so intense and so crazy, the players even got into a pushing match on the field. It was 10x bigger than the Super Bowl and the World Series combined. There were Portuguese people screaming in our ears and the AWESOME smell of cigarette smoke constantly surrounding us. Benfica won 2-0 and the crowd was in a great mood.
The walk back to the metro was a loud and crowded one with people still chanting "BENFICA!!!" and still cheering for their victorious team. The metro was a completely different story; the word "packed" is a complete understatement to how crowded this metro was. One could say that the experience has brought us A LOT closer. Overall today has definitely been a long, but a fun and eventful day in Lisbon.
-- Mara Yanni #19, Carolyn Girandola #16, and Jenna Carlen #20
March 5 – Game Time!
Today we started the day off with breakfast at the hotel and then headed to downtown Porto. We took a nice walk to the Metro and experienced public transportation. Then, when we arrived at our destination we had the perfect view of the Porto riverfront from very high up so we could see all of the city.
Once we arrived we walked down a long cobble stone road with many hills until we arrived at a wine cellar for a tour and tasting. We went to the Calem Cellars and saw how all of the different Port wines were aged over time in the different barrels. The tour was very cool and interesting because they had many different wines, the barrels seemed like they went on forever and many of them were 60 thousand liters! We all had a great time.
After the tour at Calem we walked over one of Porto's famous bridges and in the middle of it was an awesome view. When we crossed the bridge we took a tramcar that brought us up the side of a mountain and was like nothing any of us had experienced before. Once we got to the top it brought us to the city center area with many shops and restaurants, which was very busy. We were allowed free time to walk around and shop which we all took full advantage of and enjoyed thoroughly.
Then we took a long walk to a traditional Portuguese cafe which had very good food that we all loved! This time the waiter spoke English so that was a great help because we actually knew what we were ordering. The food was delicious and it was the second most popular cafe in Porto so it was a good experience. Next, we took a long walk back to the hotel to take a rest because we had a long night ahead of us with our first game.
After we rested up we had dinner at the hotel again which was pretty good! Then we headed to our first game against a club called Salgeiros and none of us knew what to expect at all because they play in the Portuguese women's league Second Division, so we were all a little nervous.
Within the first three minutes of the game we realized we could keep up with them and it would be a good game. They scored an early header goal off of a corner and we went into halftime down 1-0. The second half was much better for us as we controlled the ball and had several scoring chances. Annie scored an awesome goal with her left foot from about 30 yards out that was perfectly placed which made the game 1-1.
That was the final score and when we shook hands at the end we began to attempt to communicate to the Portuguese players and started to have a great time with them. It was an experience like none of us have ever had before and every time we both understood a word everyone would cheer. Then we ended the game in an agreement to hang out with them at night and it was a great time!!!
-- Courtney Orgill #9
March 4 - We have arrived!
I am happy to report that our team made it to Portugal alive! I've never experienced traveling like that. The first seven-hour flight to Paris was nothing. So easy and relaxing it was great, but I got no sleep on that one. When we got to Paris, we had NO time in between flights and were running through the entire, endless airport, all matching and looking like idiots. We finally made it to the plane (at this point, it's 7:35 am in France, 2:35 am in our minds). So we got on the plane for three more hours and I was absolutely exhausted but unfortunately I was seated next to an old man with apparently an overactive bladder who consistently kept asking me to get up so he could get up. Literally every time I started to doze off, he would get up. But anyway, we made it to Portugal, then walked right off the plane in Lisbon onto a nice big bus, and drove three hours north to the city of Porto. We all got some sleep here, thank goodness.
When we finally got to Porto, we were so beyond exhausted. I've never experienced a feeling like that. Then we went on a tour to the FC Porto stadium, which was really awesome. Being on the field was surreal. Fun fact: the grass within the lines of the field is imported from Holland and the grass outside the lines is from Portugal. Weird. Looked no different to me!
Anyway, our hotel is very nice. Very modern. The food is alriiiight. I ordered a fish here at the hotel yesterday, grilled grouper. It was like a steak, rather than a filet and the SCALES WERE STILL ON. But it's fine. I paid 9 euros for it so I ate it (gross though). Then we had practice at 8:00 pm, and we all had a very, very good practice despite the exhaustion.
We woke up at 8:00 am, ate breakfast that consisted of bread, croissants, other pastries, cereal, cold cuts, and fruit. I'm getting kinda nervous because I'm heavily relying on bread to fill me up, mostly because of my experience with the fish. Bread is the only thing I trust now, and the bread at the hotel is sooo good.
We went on the tour of Porto after breakfast and it was absolutely beautiful. It's exactly what you picture when you think of Portugal. Although it was rainy, we had a lot of fun. We went into a Cathedral that is 800 years old! It's tough because things like that don't impress us as much as they should because we're so used to the Basilica at CUA.
The sun is out now, and we have practice at 4:00 pm, then "free social time" which won't be very social because our tour guide, Filipe told us that everything shuts down on Sundays soooo...we don't know what we're gonna do. But we're looking forward to the rest of the trip!
- Annie Langley #17
March 1 - Our bags are packed!
The time has come for another international trip for CUA Women's Soccer! After visiting England four years ago, this spring break trip in 2012 will see the Cardinals travel across the Atlantic to Portugal for a week full of futebol and sightseeing. Fourteen players, along with three already studying abroad in Europe, will spend three days in Porto and four days in Lisbon.
The team will train with guest Portuguese coaches, play three friendly matches, and visit FC Porto's Estadio do Dragao and the Sporting Soccer Club and Stadium Complex at Lisbon, home of the Sporting Clube de Portugal. The group is already predicting one of the highlights of the trip to be its attendance at the UEFA Champions League match between Benfica vs. Zenit St. Petersburg at Benfica's home stadium in Lisbon, the Estadio da Luz, on Tuesday, March 6!
Off the field, the team will have the opportunity to visit the various sights in both Porto and Lisbon including the cathedrals and the gardens of the Crystal Palace, as well as enjoy the flavors of Portuguese food and drink.
Please return to check out our blog throughout the trip from March 2 through March 10.
- Deanna Keil, Assistant Coach