Every few days, a player from the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team will send out an e-postcard from Tobago, where the U.S. is playing in 2002 CONCACAF Under-19 Qualifying Tournament for the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship. The USA opened the tournament with a resounding 15-0 win over Suriname and faces Haiti next, tomorrow, May 9, at Dwight York Stadium. Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. ET and fans can follow the action as it happens on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Phillips Electronics.
Born: January 10, 1984
Hometown: Yakima, Washington
Hello from Paradise Island, otherwise known as Tobago. If you've never been to this small island just above South America, it is absolutely beautiful here. We get to eat breakfast overlooking the crashing surf of the Caribbean Sea, it's always hot (unlike Yakima) and the Tobagonians are so warm and friendly. Are we spoiled or what? Definitely. But we also know that we have worked so hard as a team on the road to this tournament and we are going to enjoy everything it has to offer to the fullest, on and off the field.
We had quite an adventure last Saturday as we spent all day on a glass bottom boat sailing around the coast of Tobago. It was my first time ever snorkeling, as there are not a lot of prime snorkeling spots in central Washington. I'm not sure, but I doubt there are any electric blue Creole wrasse, rainbow colored parrotfish or French angle fish in the Yakima River. We also went to a part of the ocean called the Nylon Pool where we swam in clear blue chest-deep water in the middle of Caribbean Sea. As if that wasn't enough, we sailed to a place called No Man's Island and had an afternoon feast of BBQ'd fish and chicken.
While we were wading out into the surf at No Man's Island, a bunch of us saw some fins sticking out of the water about 30 yards from us. One of our midfielders Leslie Osborne freaked. She started running out of the water, screaming "Sharks! Sharks!" Well, they didn't look like shark fins to me (although I don't claim to be a Sharkologist), because those fish were kind of just floating out there. So we grabbed some masks and snorkels and swam out after them. As it turned out, they were more scared of us than Leslie was of them, which was pretty darn scared. Leslie's panic reminded me of the first time I met her and we all had to dance in front of the team in an initiation we call "Rookie Review." Leslie was called to go first and she started crying. When she saw the "sharks" it was like "Rookie Review" all over again.
As it turns out, they were mullet fish. Last time I looked, mullets were not on the list of man-eating fish. I wanted to go grab a mullet and throw it on the BBQ, but I couldn't catch one.
When we arrived in Tobago, they told us it was the dry season here. At last night's game against Suriname, it was the polar opposite of dry. The skies opened about 20 minutes into the game and sheets of rain just kept coming and coming. We got absolutely drenched. We were pretty sure it was a monsoon or a hurricane, but the locals were like, "Hey, it's just a drizzle, mon!" Good thing I came out at halftime or I might have drowned.
But even the rain couldn't dampen our spirits because last night was special. Not so much because we dominated Suriname and scored 15 goals, but because of what the game represented to the players on this team. Last night's match was the beginning of a journey that we have been looking forward to for almost two years. I have never been on a team like this before where everyone respects each other so much and loves playing with each other like we do. We are hoping this kindred spirit carries us through to the Under-19 World Cup in Canada. If we take care of business in the next two games and do get there, we will always look back at this wonderful island as a having very special place in our hearts.
Annie Schefter has been a member of the Under-19 National Team pool for only nine months, playing in six U-19 full international matches while scoring one goal. She performed well enough in that short time to earn a starting spot on the 2002 CONCACAF Qualifying Team. She played 45 minutes in the central midfield in the USA's opening match against Suriname, picking up one assist. A wonderfully skillful, creative and aesthetic player, she will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall of 2002.