When I dreamed of playing for the U.S. Women's National Team, I couldn't have imagined anything close to what I've seen and done during this World Women's World Cup. I've always imagined what it would be like on the field, playing in front of big crowds, with lots at stake. What I didn't imagine, (and how could I?) was how great it would be to play next to these players. But as great as it has been playing with legends, the most unexpected experiences have been off the field, where I have been able to enjoy the luxuries of being a part of one of the best women's soccer teams in the world.
After our game against Sweden on Sept. 21, we jumped on a charter bus that evening and headed to Philadelphia. There we began preparing for Nigeria and at the top of our list was recovery, both mind and body. The team has two massage therapists who work with the players everyday. This I found was a definite necessity as well as a luxury, as you expend so much energy every game that you need help bringing those legs back to life. My friends find it pretty funny when I say that I have to get off my cell phone because, "I have to go to my massage." They're like, "rough life, Boxxy!" I must agree!!
The team was also given a much-needed day off from training in Philly. I was able to write the second journal for the "Soap Boxx" as well as join some of my team members at a movie, We saw "Lost in Translation" which definitely got mixed reviews from the group. The guys (trainer and equipment manager) mostly disliked it, but the opinions of the players varied from liking parts to loving it all. Put me in the former category.
Game day came upon us quickly as we only had two days of training in Philly. The game was to kick off at 7:30 p.m., so I had a lot of time to prepare. I actually like night games because I feel like I have lots of energy under the lights and its always a great atmosphere. My routine for game day always consists of a BIG breakfast which that day featured banana pancakes, a side of sausage, and a cup of coffee. With a full belly, I just tried to relax the rest of the day. I watched a movie (Sweet Home Alabama, which is the favorite of our Alabama-born defender Cat Reddick!) and basically just hung out until our pre-game meal. Then it was onto the stadium.
The attitude in the locker room was one of excitement and fun. We listened to music and people were dancing around as they got geared up for the game. Tiffeny Milbrett did a great ballerina impression and then did the Irish "River Dance" which she actually does quite well!
I got to start again, and although I haven't played in too many international matches, I know this one was especially super fast paced and very physical. Going into the match, you just had the expectation that it might be a little bit crazy, and it was. Just the way the Nigerians play made the game very difficult. They play with all heart, and all athleticism and not much structure, which makes it tough for us to get a rhythm and we end up getting into a game were we know we are going to get hit. But the key thing is to control your emotions and continue to play our game, which is what we did.
We got two early goals, which was great, but they never stopped coming at us until the final whistle. But the 5-0 win and three points earned meant we accomplished our goals. For the first time with the national team, I didn't score! I guess I'm not going to break Mia's scoring record of 144 goals anytime soon.
Tomorrow is a big game against North Korea and if we win, we finish first in our group, which would be another goal achieved. We play on ABC tomorrow at 3:45 p.m. ET, so thanks for tuning in!
Bye for now,