Postcard from Victoria... Heather O'Reilly
Every few days, a player from the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team will send out an e-postcard from Canada, where the U.S. is playing in the FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship. The U.S. opened the tournament on Saturday, Aug. 17, against England at Centennial Stadium in Victoria, B.C. with a 5-1 win.
Aug. 18, 2002
Born: January 2, 1985
Hometown: East Brunswick, N.J.
Yesterday was what I like to call "a good day." I woke up thinking that this is it. This is game day. The day when we play in a world championship. Two years of hard work, sacrifice, sweat, fun, friendship, travel, and some heartbreak, were all for what we would experience that day. And let me tell you, it was all worth it.
We beat England 5-1 in our opening game and got this tournament started the way we wanted. England was a super tough team. Those girls were skillful and they were hard tacklers. They came at us with cleats flying and while I managed to avoid getting the leather laid on me too bad, Lori Chalupny, Manya Makoski and Megan Kakadelas all ate some dirt pretty hard. While the English were a quality team, my girls came up big. The defense was solid, the midfield controlled the game and the forwards finished. All in all, a good start, but now we turn our attention to Australia on Monday.
One more thing about England - What was up with the low ponytails? You couldn't pull that one off in Jersey.
It's been hot here in Victoria which means we have kept the fan on in our hotel room, until last night. You see, my room-dog Jessica Ballweg, a.k.a. Jersey Girl II, seems to have a rough history with ceiling fans. When we were in Tobago for qualifying for this tournament, she was sitting in her room just watching TV by herself when a blade on her ceiling fan, which admittedly was spinning pretty fast, flew off and almost lodged itself in the wall of her room. It scared the heck out of her. But there's more. When she got back from Tobago, she was somewhere where she wanted to turn on a light attached to a ceiling fan. She pulled the cord and the whole light busted right on her head. She got a gash on her forehead and there was blood everywhere. Yikes. So when the ceiling fan in our room starting shaking and making some funny noises, we decided it was wise to turn that puppy off. Jess is scared to death of that fan. She says that some of the screws that are holding it to the ceiling are loose and that it's spinning funky. I don't think the fan will be operating again in the Jersey girls' room.
I don't think I can finish my postcard without talking about someone who has been a huge inspiration to all of us on the team. Annie Schefter, who was named to our roster, tore her ACL 10 days before we came together for the world championship. She is one of my best buddies in the world and it was one of the hardest conversations of my life when we spoke on the phone the first time after she got hurt. She went through a lot to make this team and so deserved her roster spot. And suddenly, it was taken away from her. It was just so sad. But then I realized that the most important things could never be taken away, and that's the friendship and the experiences we've all had together. Annie is with us here in Victoria and cheering us on from the stands. It pushes us all even more to see her up there because we know how bad she wants to be down on the field us.
Update on Schefter: I think you will see the fastest ACL recovery in history. She is already walking normally and riding the stationary bike like Lance Armstrong.
Tomorrow, we face Australia and we know if we win, we'll basically have earned a spot in the second round, so it will be huge. And we love huge games.
Heather O'Reilly is part of a trio of forwards on the U.S. U-19s dubbed the "new Triple-Edged Sword." She was involved in four out of the five U.S. goals against England yesterday and now has scored 15 goals in 14 U-19 international matches. O'Reilly, who will be a senior next year at East Brunswick High School, made her full U.S. Women's National Team debut last March at the Algarve Cup in Portugal.