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Manya's Musings - Final Thread From the Nordic Cup

Iceland Journal - Part 3

After helping the U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team win the 2004 Nordic Cup in dominating fashion, coming off the bench in all four matches as the team rolled over all four opponents by 3-0 scores, including a victory over Sweden in the championship game, forward Manya Makoski checks in with her final installment of Manya's Musings.  Today Manya muses about the why the team doctor went to medical school instead of a career in professional soccer, why you don't want to sit next to Julianne Sitch on a bumpy plane ride and has some final thoughts for her Nordic Cup champ teammates.

The Shooting Game Ends
The 2004 finale of the Shooting Game, in which the team was divided into East and West teams according to hometowns, saw the East come out victorious over the West. Yes, I was finally on the winning team.  This game might have to come with an asterix though as the staff was included this time, which definitely had a big effect on the outcome, unfortunately. The East had assistant coach Karen Ferguson (who I think might have had a few caps for the Women's National Team in the late 1970s) [editor's note: she had two from 1992-93], Bri (our Icelandic translator), Keith (our massage therapist) and Alex (our team administrator). The West had our Doc Kathy, our goalkeeper coach "Big" Bill Irwin, and Amanda (our equipment coordinator). However, there were some positives in the staff joining in, but it was mostly for comic relief. We all got a kick out of Doc totally whiffing on her shot on the first ball of the game. She is so cute. Carli Lloyd tried to give Doc some pointers, telling her to keep her toe pointed up when she kicked the ball.  She was a good teacher, but I don't know which is more hilarious, Doc whiffing or Doc hitting the ball over the goal. My team did get mad at Bri though because his net total of points dropped to a negative five at one point. (This is a serious competition folks, international diplomacy goes right out the window).  However, he did have the winning save as the 'keeper, so Bri, you deserve some points added onto Iceland's total score for that. We'll give a solid fifty points for Iceland. Overall score for the trip: Tied at Iceland 101 -- U.S. 101.

The 'Ship

We defeated Germany 3-0 in our last first round game, which gave us a berth into the champion'Ship. After a few struggles in front of Sweden's goal, Lori Chalupny was able to put the ball in the back of the net after a scramble in the box during the first half.  The second goal came from Kelly Wilson (also know as "Stud Forward" Kelly Wilson), flicking the ball to herself over a defender and then putting it around the keeper on a breakaway in the second half. While the substitutes were warming up, we were able to watch from a distance as the third and final goal came from Carli ripping a shot that the 'keeper could not save from going into the goal after getting a hand on it. Even though Sweden had strong and big players, we were able to combine around them. I got in the game with about twenty minutes left to play. When my buddy Julianne Sitch came in, she sent a cross to me at the near post. I stuck my leg out past my defender and redirected the ball, but unfortunately the 'keeper just tipped it past the post, giving us a corner. It was the best chance I had to score, but since all of our other games ended 3-0, I guess I decided to keep that 3-0 streak alive, you know, to add some sort of Zen/Feng Shui-type balance to the whole thing. We had a ceremony following the game, in which we received our gold medals and a trophy.  Getting a gold medal around your neck is always fun, no matter if there are 50,000 people in the stands, or 20.

Turbulence in Iceland
We finally left on Friday. Keeley Dowling (like she always does) kept a running time of our travel. It was definitely a long day. It started off with Amanda running through the halls with a soccer ball and shin guards (with the full on ankle protectors) over her khaki pants. Don't ask me why.  I guess we were all excited to get home.  On the bumpy plane ride from the small airport in northern Iceland to Reykjavik to catch our flight back to the USA, some people had trouble with motion sickness. As the ride got bumpier, Tasha Kai, Lu, and Hayley Hunt started feeling woozy. Chris, who was sitting next to Lu, pulled out a "Yak Bag" for her, telling her everything will be okay. I guess Lu, who was turning paler by the second, didn't feel that confidant in Chris' support. Giving a big heave, she threw up what was left of breakfast. I am not kidding this time. Lu lost it.  Good thing I wasn't next to her. Minus ten points for Lu for having to carry a doggy bag of vomit off the plane. (I had to get her back for revealing my blond moment earlier in the tournament).

Home Sweet Home

Well, I am finally home after another six-hour flight. The life of an international soccer player is definitely a tiring one, but it's worth every minute on an airplane, on the bus and everywhere else in between.  I have to say that competing in my first Nordic Cup in Iceland was a memorable experience. We were definitely a talented group of young players who came together to dominate a very competitive tournament. We created magic on the field and had a great time off of it. After being together for seven months, we've bonded, played jokes on each other, but most importantly, I have seen how special each player is.  Here is a thought on each one of my great teammates.  I'll see some of you on the field this college season, and maybe some with the national team again, but always remember that you were the best in the world for your age in 2004!

Forward Julianne "Lu" Sitch (Depaul): You always knew what I was thinking.  Going on the Internet now won't ever be the same.

Kati Jo "KJ" Spisak (Texas A&M): The best roomie ever!  Now I will have to watch 24 by myself. Thanks for the electrolytes.  Thanks for not making fun of short people too much.

Nicole "Barnie" Barnhart (Stanford): A.k.a. "The Wall". You are my hero. Keep on giggling.

Jenny Farenbaugh (Stanford): Your encouragement motivated me so much. I loved playing on the right side with you. We?ll see ya in the Pac-10, baby.

Hayley Hunt (Stanford): You are the toughest girl I know. Roomies in China!

Keeley Dowling (Tennessee): The girl who can probably jump over me (now I'm making fun of short people). Kankles Klub forever!

Jill Oakes (UCLA): My shopping buddy!  What would you do if you became inflexible?!

Linsdey Huie (Portland): You made everyone laugh with your stories, and you rocked at outside back.

Joanna "Jo" Lohman (Penn State): Our Captain, who led the team to victory. I've never seen anyone who is fitter.

Sarah "Huffy" Huffman (Virginia): Your grit and hard work always pays off. Roomies in Brasil!

Lori "Chalupa" Chalupny (UNC): You never cease to amaze me with your skills. Thanks for letting me use your laptop.

Nikki Thaden (Texas): I never knew they played soccer in Iowa. Do you play 1vs1 with your cow? You are the funniest girl I know.

Kacey White (UNC): You've got great style on and off the field. I hope you like the bag I picked out for you.

Kelly Wilson (Texas): Willy, I admire your unselfishness on the field. Don't forget to subtract two hours when you get home.

Tasha Kai (Hawaii): There is no one like you. Shoots brah! The Forward Handshake lives on.

Carli Lloyd (Rutgers): Don't ever lose the Jersey Attitude. You have the wickedest shot ever.

Esmeralda Negron (Princeton): Your laugh is so funny. Don't forget to use your right foot once in a while.

Chris Petrucelli, the assistant coaches and staff: We couldn't have had a better group of leaders. You all did so great in the Shooting Game (Not).