It's nearing the end of preseason and we're off to a great start for a brand new season of SJU women's soccer! As incoming freshmen we had no idea what to expect, but we learned early that hard work and lots of fun were definitely on the agenda. This year's "fleet" is quite large, with 12 new freshmen and 29 players total. There are a lot of new faces for us to learn. With so many players comes a competitive environment everyday, which is something that we're all really excited about! It helps to keep us focused and hardcore at practice 24/7 (literally) because you never know who the starting eleven will be for any given game.
From a freshman perspective we'd have to say that the team is looking rather nice, we all get a long really well and we feel like we've been apart of the team for years. The upperclassmen are showing us the ropes. Whether they're driving us to the fields, taking us to dinner, or showing us just exactly how to do equipment you can tell there's a special bond amongst the team already. We had our first scrimmage against Monmouth last Saturday and the team played amazing. For it being our first real game against another school (scrimmaging ourselves was getting a little old) the chemistry of our team was like that of an atom and a molecule. We were bonding.
Now we're packing for Cali and gearing up for our first two games against two high-caliber California schools (St. Mary's and Cal Berkeley). We're not too excited about the 3:30 a.m. wake up, but we can't wait to get out on the west coast. We're especially excited about our team dinners at Cronin and LA's cribs and our apparent trip to what the seniors and juniors call heaven... the IN AND OUT BURGER fiasco.
Tune in later for an update on California!
J.P. and K.R. (Jennifer Pfeiffer and Kortney Rhoades)
Today started at 4:15 AM when our team piled onto the bus and headed to the airport for a 6:30 AM flight to San Francisco, California! We arrived in San Fran mid morning and went sightseeing around Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Park, and the Golden Gate Bridge. After everyone had seen enough we went to our hotel in Berkeley, just minutes away from the Cal Berkeley campus. We were checked and to get prepared for our game the next day the team went for a light run around Berkeley to "get the plane out of our legs". Since everyone was exhausted from our early flight and long day, we found a small Italian restaurant in Berkeley for dinner and headed straight for bed afterwards--Everyone needed a good night sleep to be ready for St. Mary's!!
The team met for breakfast around 8:30 AM and had a short break before we went into downtown Berkeley for lunch and shopping. (I got to go to one of my favorite pizza shops in Berkeley called Blondies!!) We went back to the hotel to pick up all our equipment for the game and headed to Moraga, California for our game against St. Mary's! After 90 minutes we were tied 1-1 and eventually lost in overtime--which was of course heartbreaking but we new we played well and just needed to keep our heads up and prepare for our next game against Cal Berkeley. After the game we went to Megan's house in Danville and enjoyed a wonderful home cooked meal and got to visit with the parents who flew out for the weekend and my family, which was very exciting to spend some time with them! After Megan's house we went back to the hotel and everyone was ready for bed.
We woke up around 8:30 am for breakfast in the hotel and headed to Berkeley's practice field for a morning training session. After a light run, stretch, technical drill, and shooting, we headed back to downtown Berkeley for lunch and shopping. We meet back an hour later and got ready to go to my hometown, Pleasanton for a tour of a local winery and dinner at my house! One of my good friends and boss over a few summers is part owner of a beautiful winery and event center in Pleasanton and so graciously set us up with a tour with the head winemaker! We got to taste grapes off the vine and see where and how all the wine is made! It was extremely interesting and some even won some prizes after the tour if they could answer a question about the tour! We then went to my house for a backyard barbeque and some surprise dance entertainment by my 7 year old nephew! When everyone had eaten and seen enough we went back to our hotel where people watched movies together and went to bed early. Cal Berkeley tomorrow!!!
We got to sleep in this morning until 11 AM when we went back to Megan's house for brunch and to relax before our game later in the day. After watching the quality movie, Men in Tights and a few card games, we piled in the bus and listened to our AWESOME pre-game CD thanks to DJ Stevis on our way to the Cal stadium for our game! Everyone was pumped! Although the outcome of the game was not what we prepared for, everyone was thankful for this opportunity and all the memories that would come from such an amazing trip to California! What we weren't excited for was our red-eye flight that night! We showered up quickly in the locker rooms and went to In-n-Out Burger for those who can't go to California without having it and those who had never had it! It was to die for as always. Now it was time for our 10:30 PM departure to Philadelphia.
Back to Philly at 6:30 AM and BACK TO BED!!!
This week was quite a stressful one. Not only were we getting ready for classes to finally begin but we also had to remember what lied ahead for us at the end of the week, our first home game. We were all really tired on Monday when we returned home from California and we tried to sleep most of the day as all of the other freshmen began to move in.
Tuesday we had practice in the morning and then made a few trips to the bookstore to get some last minute supplies for classes the next day.
Wednesday was our first day of classes and it was weird to be a freshman again. We were nervous about getting lost, being on time, and the new professors that were behind each door. Luckily, classes weren't so bad for the first week, mostly introductions and going over the syllabus for the semester. That night we had a really focused and intense practice and then watched film from our games in California, all in preparation for Friday's game.
Thursday was another day of new classes our nerves were a little more at ease, and then a light pregame practice and team dinner.
Friday finally came and we were really excited and a little nervous for the game that night. We sat through classes, which seemed a little long, and then came back to our dorm for a quick power nap and some dinner. We were so really excited for our first game on the new turf and getting a chance to play at home, in front of a lot of friends and family.
Danielle, Taylor, and Kortney were in charge of motivation and they picked the theme "fresh". Although we had played a few games already, we knew that tonight was really our chance to make a fresh start and show everyone what kind of team we were going to be.
After a scoreless first half against Saint Peter's, we came off the field a little frustrated, but confident at the same time. We knew all we needed was one goal and then the floodgates would open. Sure enough after Amanda's great finish, Danielle and Allie followed the lead making the final score 3-0.
It was a great way to start our home season considering one of our goals is to "protect this house." We got to hear the Hawk song and celebrate our first win as a team on our home turf. It was a great feeling and one we hope to carry into the weeks ahead of us.
The beginning of the week was actually pretty relaxing, we had Saturday and Monday off which gave our legs a rest from the well deserved win over Saint Peters. When Tuesday came along, we were ready for a hard week of practice and training. Tuesday is by far the longest day of the week for many of us. Practice in the morning, followed by yoga, then for some of us classes and finally a fitness session with Summit. Wednesday and Thursday practices are not as long but still intense to get us ready for upcoming games.
Winning our first home game against Saint Peter's last Friday night really set the tone for our season. As Maggie mentioned, we wanted to "protect our house" and we did so once again Friday night against Lehigh, winning 4-0. It was a scoreless first half and this time a tough battle in the rain.
By the second half we knew what we had to do and dominated offensively, scoring a goal early in the second half followed by another three goals! Sarah O'Malley and Kortney Rhoades got their first goals of the season and Danielle Debernardo and Jen Pfeiffer helped with a goal each.
Sunday we traveled to Marist and once again came home victorious! It was a great test to see how we would do on the road, winning our first away game. The game went into double over time, until Maggie Lupinski scored within the first minute, getting her first goal as a Hawk. The 2-0 weekend was a huge confidence booster as we move towards what we know will be a hard match against Delaware this friday night.
September 23, 2008
Our preparation before our games always starts with an early Tuesday morning practice followed by yoga and summit. This week was no different. We started the week off strong with a good competitive practice, something we try to bring to the field everyday. Each day of practice was hard because we knew the weekend would be a battle.
Last year when the women's soccer team at Saint Joseph's University played Delaware, the outcome was not in our favor nor did we receive any respect from the opposing team. This year it was about revenge. The game started off with a penalty kick scored by Delaware in the first five minutes, but that did not dishearten our team. We came back and won 2-1, fighting for all 90 minutes with everything we had. It was an exhilarating win that left us feeling confident in our abilities to shine this season.
However, our weekend wasn't over, we had another game on Sunday against a team that has changed a lot over the past year much like ourselves. We started our day off with a good team breakfast but at the start of the game we did not seem to have a lot of energy. There are many excuses we can use as to why we started off slow but it does not mean anything because in the end the other team is fighting against the same obstacles.
Once again we found away to win. The second half was another battle, not many fouls were called. The referee did not protect the girls on the field so the game got out of hand. They scored off another penalty kick, but we did not sit back and wait to make our next move. Five seconds after their penalty kick we answered back with our second goal of the game.
We ended the weekend 2-0 and which increased our winning streak to five games. It is a wonderful feeling to win and great way to go into our conference games. Get ready Atlantic 10 because here comes St. Joe's University and we will not be taken lightly!
Coming off of the awesome win on Friday night over Delaware, we were pumped to keep our winning streak alive when it came time for Sunday's match against Drexel. After taking some time to settle into the game, we were up 1-0 going into the second half. With only about 20 minutes left to go, Drexel scored on a penalty kick. Clearly we were left unfaized as three passes and 11 seconds after the restart of the goal, we scored and went on to beat the Dragons 2-1.
It was back down to business Tuesday morning after a nice, and well deserved, day off on Monday following another 2-0 weekend. We were back to our regular Tuesday routine by working hard in practice, getting mentally focused for an hour with Yoga, and keeping up our fitness with Summit that day. Wednesday and Thursday were also good practices with one goal in mind: beating URI on Friday and starting off the A-10's 1-0.
Due to incoming inclement weather, we left for Rhode Island Thursday night. Waking up Friday morning to torrential down pouring and crazy winds did not affect our mindset, as we were ready to play no matter what. With game time moved up to 3:00, we took the field ready to show URI just how good of a team we are this year and gain some respect. We adapted to the harsh playing conditions and beyond slick field to beat the Rams 1-0. With a goal coming pretty early in the first half, we defended and worked so hard to keep the lead and shutout URI. It was a hard fought battle for the entire ninety minutes and while we couldn't play our "pretty" possessive style of soccer, but we got the job done and started off the A-10's just where we wanted to be. It was a momentous win and made for an enjoyable ride back to SJU.
This Wednesday's game against Penn was a tough one to bounce back from. We usually have the same schedule every week, with Tuesday being our hardest day. We have practice, yoga, then Summit (our trainer Pat comes and runs us into the ground), and all this on top of classes. Tuesdays were tough to adjust to at first, but I think we're all pretty adapted to this weekly routine and like knowing what our day will be like ahead of time.
Anyway, our schedule was altered this week though because of our Wednesday game versus UPenn. Usually we have two games a week, on Friday and Sunday, but not this week. We had a light practice on Tuesday morning and that was all. I would definitely say it threw us all off a little.
It was lightly drizzling when we arrived at Penn, and the Penn guy's team was playing a home match against Villanova. We went into the locker room and got ready, then headed out behind the Villanova bench. We got to see the last couple minutes of the match. It was so intense. Penn's field is grass, so the guys were all covered in head to toe with mud. We watched as the game ended, then hopped on the field to begin our warm-up.
The game was pretty intense to begin with. The field was torn to pieces from the guy's game before. Penn scored first from a free kick about 30 yards out. They weren't up for long though. We came back with a beautiful goal from Jen Pfeiffer, where she turned on the defender and ripped it right past the goalie. With only a couple seconds left in the first half, Penn scored off a corner kick. We were really bummed, but glad there was a whole new half to come.
In the first few minutes of the second half, Kortney Rhoades made a beautiful cross to Maggie Lupinski who put the ball in the back of the net. Maggie's defender didn't even see her coming, it was awesome. Penn then scored two more times after that, leaving the final score at 4-2.
The loss was hard to cop with, but we knew we had to move on. We had regular practice the rest of the week, and then our game Sunday versus Temple. We traveled there, and didn't have a very strong warm-up, which is I think why we started out so slow. We just weren't playing like ourselves, but luckily we were able to find the back of the net before the ninety minutes were up. Our captain, Laura Adams, had a beautiful goal off of a cross. It felt good to walk away with the win, and we'll see what happens next week when we take on Saint Louis and Charlotte.