Postcards From Rio: Part 2
The UW women's soccer team is currently enjoying an off-season tour of Brazil. The Husky head coach, Lesle Gallimore reports on the UW's first game, which sounds like a thriller. Here's what the coach had to say, via email from Rio:
Brazil, Day 3
Tuesday, June 16th
It is shocking to all of us that this is only Day 3. We have crammed so much in so far that it really has seemed we have been here longer.
Today the group strolled into the lovely breakfast at the Ipanema Plaza between 7 and 9 a.m. Word on the street is that Jim Thomas and Tess Bartlett had already been for a run. Tess isn't allowed to fully participate yet, so Jim is aiding her in her road to fitness recovery and it is a tough task to get up and run on Ipanema Beach, but someone has to do it! Ah the life of a soccer coach.
We had a little bus "snag" so our departure for our tour of Rio was delayed from 9 to almost 10, but not to worry Andre and crew had it all under control and the abbreviated tour was still spectacular! Andre is a virtual Rio encyclopedia and we were all fascinated to hear about the different areas of Rio de Janeiro. The city actually got its name, which means River of January because the Portuguese in 1502 thought Guanabara Bay was a River and it happened to be January 1st when they arrived...so Rio de Janeiro made perfect sense.
It is extremely interesting to see the melding of classes and neighborhoods. Brazilian "favelas" or slums right next to areas much like Beverly Hills. Andre says that's "just how it is" and everyone lives fairly harmoniously. There really seems to be no middle class here which makes for an interesting dynamic; it really is intriguing.
We traveled south and learned more about the politics and cultural scene in Rio and when we turned to head north back towards Ipanema we took in more of the beautiful Rio coastline stopping for a photo op at Barra Da Tijuca and praia (beach) de Barra. Rio is famous for extreme sports and we watched some hang gliders land on the beach and Kate Deines was offered a deal to go hang gliding. I declined for her as I felt Mom and Dad Deines would like to see Kate again and I wasn't up for having that on my head...standard stick in the mud Head Coach. (It's official, I am old).
Once we made it back to the hotel the players did well to cram some lunch in them as we were pressed for time to get to our game. Off we headed for the first match of the trip, anticipation and excitement was very high. So high just about everyone fell asleep on the bus.
The oil and petroleum industry is huge here in Brazil and our first match was to be played against a team sponsored by one such company, CEPE. The team Cepe-Caxias (meaning women) was our opponent and we really had no idea what to expect other than they are Brazilian so we knew the skill factor would be high. We were not disappointed! It is so fun to watch the soft touch they all have and how easily they handle the ball and move to support. These women were mostly in their 20's and primarily older than our team, 24-27. Their experience showed and we were impressed with their athletic ability as well.
With that said we held our own and we went up on the board first with a lovely goal by Veronica Perez on a fantastic assist by McKenna Waitley in the 12th minute. We played on a grass field that by standards here was great; by American standards there wouldn't be one college team we play that has a field like this, but it is so great for our players to be challenged with different elements. For you novices the officials would also qualify as an "element".
Our friend in the center didn't disappoint. As Associate Head Coach Amy Griffin, who is our most experienced International coach and player knows, you are never going to get favorable treatment from officials when you are the visitor. It is just the way it goes and you better learn to deal with it. Our man today lulled us into believing he would be kind, but that waned as the game went on and it was if he was inhaling and exhaling with his whistle. I was personally entertained by it all. We asked the team to grade themselves on how they did on not letting the officiating affect them and they were in the C-D range; we will have this challenge again and we will see if we can get to a B during this trip and be at an A+ by fall!
The opponents were awarded a PK which by the markings on the field was about 9.5 yards from the goal, and they put it away. 1-1 was the score in the 18th minute.
There was more action to be had in the first half and I have to admit that neither team was defending that great and our opponents had a bit better possession. In the 28th minute, a good hard low serve in by them and a streaking near post run by one of their forwards to meet the ball and it's 2-1.
In the 38th minute, savvy Husky freshmen Sarah Martinez gets into the box on the left side and drives to commit a defender and the defender can do nothing but take her down. PK award to the Dawgs and VP converts on her second goal of the day to make it 2-2 at half. I couldn't see from where I was if it was a 9.5-yarder, I'll have to ask V tomorrow.
At half-time we spoke of possession and supporting the ball and there was some improvement in the second half, but the Brazilians were still the superior team in possession. A couple of quick passes, a shot, a deflection and our keeper, Kari Davidson is unable to keep it from bending in at the near post, 3-2 Cepe-Caxias.
The game begins to heat up a beat and our friend in middle continues to breathe in and out on his whistle and more often awards the ball to his countrywomen. It is almost funny ... actually more to us as coaches than to the players as it is all unfolding exactly as we knew it could.
But as she has done all year Veronica Perez is clutch and finishes an outstanding pass from Kate in the 72nd minute to knot it at 3-3 and that was all she wrote. Their coach gave me a few gift jerseys and I awarded one to Veronica as woman of the match! Well deserved!
More predictions by Amy come true as our "friend" let them game run about eight minutes extra, we continued to dodge bullets and the home team alas could not capitalize during their bonus time.
We brought spare jerseys from home and gave them to our opponents. Their expressions of excitement and gratitude were worth a million bucks. I love the Brazilians!
We ate a ridiculously great dinner on site at their restaurant and topped it off with a very cool loud festive Brazilian version of Happy Birthday complete with chocolate cake to celebrate the 19th birthday of our own Faustine Dufka as well as the 40th birthday of our guide Andre! Feliz Aniversario!!
We have game two tomorrow versus Team Chicago and we're excited to see what great challenges our next opponent presents! Stay tuned and tchau!
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