OPEN LETTER TO THE AMAZON WARRIORS

My Beloved Amazon Warriors,

Our journey together is coming to an end and it’s time to reflect and analyse those four years together.

If you had asked me four years ago where would I see our team in 2014, I would never imagine us undefeated for two years (46 matches) but I would have told you I would work for that. Although it may seem so nowadays, it was not an easy journey and I praise a lot those of you that have followed me every step of the way for those four years. It was very easy to think about quitting when we were the underdogs. Hey, I thought about it when, for a moment, I felt I was not able to help you out. For you girls that were part of the team who lost 6 x 0 to YCIS at home in 2011, this season is for you.

To the rookies of the team, congratulations. You bore the weight of our uniform with talent, courage and pride. Trust me, I know it’s not easy. I sincerely hope you always felt included in our little family and I think I can talk for all the veterans that without you, this season would not had been so amazing. This season is for you.

To the players that are not in our team anymore but deeply contributed to what we are today, my most sincere thanks. Without the skills and dedication of Nelis, Esmées, Lines, Victorias, KatysLouises or Martas, we would not be the Amazon Warriors.

Often I caught myself thinking “Ok, we are good but how come we are always winning, year after year?” After all, we lose players, other teams get stronger but we still on the top. The only answer that I have for this question is: we always want it more. Our biggest adversary is not BISS Pudong or any other team. It’s our own goals that we set in our minds to achieve and we will not stop for anything to achieve it. The best example of this was the match in the Round Robin vs BISS Pudong. If the Elders remember, I was considering doing a crazy formation and risking losing so we could rest to be better prepared for a possible final later on. Your answer immediately was : “no, we don’t want to lose”. Ironically enough, the match itself offered some challenges with BISS Pudong scoring an amazing goal and us being behind in the score until the last two minutes of the match. Like you girls told me; you did not want to lose, so we didn’t. 17 matches, 16 wins and only one tie. That’s represents a team that was not ready to lose.

You may not believe when I’ve told you in Beijing but my time as a coach has come to an end. Where would I find such a committed group of athletes willing to follow my instructions to the letter, participating in crazy drills, or crazy practices like Zumba or Yoga? Where would I find a goalie that played a final match of a tournament with a broken foot? Or a player that even with the risk of a concussion played fearlessly? And a defender that even being out of breath, kept running until the last second of a match? Those are just some elements that makes this team special and unique.

I have one last drill for you, my Amazon Warriors. I want you to bring to your life the motto that I kept shouting from the sidelines to you in almost every single match, especially the matches when we were behind in the score. 0 x 0. The ball goes to the center, 0 x 0. No matter if you are ahead in the score or behind. That ball goes on the center, you must reset and play like it’s just beginning. Life will offer challenges.Life will offer comfort. No matter what you get, you should never accommodate or feel defeated. You have the power to put the ball on the center of the field, and restart the “match”.

Thank you for everything. I could not be prouder of all of you girls who had been part of this team, that gave me the honour of being your coach throughout those four years and I hope we can actually have a reunion in five years, somewhere in the world.

So, before I go, let me tell you a story… No.. Let me tell you the LEGEND of the Invincible Team… The Amazon Warriors… The Varsity Girls Football Team from SCIS Hongqiao.

BELLATORUM INVICTUM

 Erick Pessôa

EMP_7489

ACAMIS DAY 3 – MATCH #7 FINAL Vs BISS Pudong

So what was expected finally arrived. For four years that I’ve been to ACAMIS, it always had been SCIS X BISS Pudong. No matter if it’s in Taiwan,Beijing or even in Shanghai. I have to confess that for a moment this final was overshadowed by other key moment; it would be the last match ever for many of us, including me and during the warm up that fact hit me hard. Besides the Seniors (Bella, Suh-Young, Inês and Franziska), Sinead and maybe Alva and Alice are not coming back this year so for sure the 2015 team will be different. I had to distance myself a bit so I could refocus on the match.

Before the match itself, after the semifinals, we decided to watch the video of the semifinals so we could understand better our adversary. Also, with Kyra back, we finally could do the formation that I wanted where Mikayla would shadow their #30 and we would still have defending Tehillah and Kyra. Franziska would move to the right wing with Suh-Young on the left and Inês as center midfield. The idea is to block BISS out and use our stamina and speed counter attacking. I was also extremely concerned with our dear Bella. The night before she was really in pain on her left foot and Bella is not the kind of athlete that would complain for nothing. Before the match, the coach from BCIS kindly taped Bella’s foot, which helped a lot. I am sure without Bella, we would not be where we were these two years.

In our conversation right before the match I told the girls that I was extremely proud of them, that our goal was achieved, which was reaching the finals. That we had been in every single possible final in the past four years and this would make any coach proud and above all, made them the best team I ever coached. For that, they should get in that pitch and have fun. Enjoy playing the beautiful game one more time with each other. I think the weather was extremely dry because my contacts started to bother me and made my eyes watery.

Anyway, the match itself. For the first ten minutes both teams were extremely focused and respecting each other. No clear opportunity of goal happening for either side and the game was truncated in the midfield. The good thing of having talented players defending like Tehillah, Mikayla and Kyra is the fact that they all know how to trap a ball and push forward. With three back defending, Kyra was always free to get this ball so Bella always had an alternative to punting the ball.

On the 15th minute, we changed formation, from hamburger to formation 1 with Tehillah (with a major bruise on her foot) coming out to Alice coming in on the right wing and Franziska moving to striker position. This helped us to spend more time attacking.

One thing that the whole team started to notice was the fact that their #30 (actually playing with the #16 on the jersey for this match), in every contact with other player from our team, would fall to the ground, either of exhaustion or frustration but hardly ever due to a serious injury. This started to worry me about leading the referee to make a bad call. In total in the match she fell 8 times. Well, the first half ended with no real shot at the goal from either side.

The second half started with the same formation of the end of 1st half. But then, things changed. The Gods of football were looking at us and decided that this season the Swedes would be key to our championship. Alice suffered a fault on the right side of BISS Pudong box. Inês took the shot and passed to Alva, inside the box. Our Happy Viking just took it away from the goalie with a swift touch and violá! 1 x 0 SCIS.

I was expecting that BISS would come full force to tie the match but it was the opposite. We kept pressuring them on their own field. Hailey, with her calmness in the field, was holding the ball forward together with Alva and Alice. Inês kept their #13 at bay at the same time pushing out team forward and Mikayla and Kyra were holding well the #30.

With 13 minutes in the second half, after a throw in deflected by BISS, Kyra passed to Inês who shot a beautiful ball toward their goal. The goalie deflected and Hailey fought for the ball, shooting twice, forcing the BISS Pudong goalie to do an incredible save with one hand. Two minutes later, another great save from their goalie in a corner kick where Franziska had a great shot.

BISS Pudong Finals CelebrationBISS only had one solid chance on a free kick from our left defensive side but the ball went out. The last ball of the match was a counter attack with Alva shooting and their goalie defending it. We made it and with flying colours. We were never threatened during the match. We played clean and fair and above all, we played as a team. There is not a single player that I can pick to select as MVP of this match. We were solid because absolutely everybody did their job. Have you ever saw so many parents there supporting us? Remember, we were in another city, away from home. They went there for you, my Amazon Warriors. Because they knew that above all, you would give your best always and here is your reward. Follow up to this post, my open letter to you all.

Goals:  Alva
Assists:  Inês
MVP of the match: Amazon Warriors

ACAMIS DAY 3 – MATCH #6 SEMIFINAL Vs BISS Beijing

The night before the semifinal was fun. My Amazon Warriors were playing charades with the boys and all of us were having tons of fun. On the sadder note, Bella was in pain. Her left foot was hurting a lot. She was worried about it but when I asked if she could play, with a big smile she replied: “Of course!”. But she was limping so I was really worried.

Next morning, two good news. Kyra was feeling muuuuuuuch better and Hailey was ready for battle. Hailey sprinted, trapped the ball and shot without any problems. The other semifinal was KAS Vs BISS Pudong. There was a good chance of having Finals us Vs with BISS Pudong. Tricky would be to not think about BISS Pudong but focus first on our semifinal. I was also very worried about Bella’s foot. I was actually hoping that BISS Beijing kept the same philosophy of not attacking, at least this would “protect” Bella more.

So back to our semifinal. Since it rained the night before, the pollution levels were much lower than before and temperature was ok (24 degrees). Everything set for what would be the perfect match. If I told my team we had to score a goal quickly so we could rest, not even the most optimistic person could count on a goal on the first 30 seconds. Not even Victor Feng, our cameraman. He was gabbing the chair when Inês shot from a certain distance and score the first goal. This changed the whole dynamic of the match, no question about it. 1 x 0 SCIS.

From this moment on, I’ve felt I was watching Barcelona playing. The ball did not leave their defensive field. With four minutes, we had shot already 10 times to their goal. With less than five minutes, our Wonder Alice got a goal kick from BISS Beijing, pushed forward and scored her second goal in ACAMIS and the second in the match. 2 x 0. As a matter of a fact, the goal kicks from BISS Beijing were always falling on our feet. with six minutes, Franziska also got a goal kick, pushed forward and scored a goal. 3 x 0.

With such a good score with only 6 minutes, time to rotate everybody, specially Inês. She is probably together with Bella and Mikayla the player with more time in the field so I had to think more about the finals. With 10 minutes in the match, the team was Bella, Mikayla and Kyra, Alva center midfield, Phoebe on the right, Sinead on the left, Hailey as a striker. Mikayla and Kyra were so solid defending and anticipating the attacks from BISS Beijing that they were actually playing on the offensive field. To have an idea how foward Mikayla was in the field, she shot at BISS goal seven times!

On the 16th minute, on another goal kick,  this time Hailey gets the ball, dribble a player and boom! Score our 4th goal. It was great to see Hail Gribble scoring a goal after being out for three matches. 4 x 0 SCIS and we kept pressuring until the end of the first half. Mikayla and Alva were passing wonderfully well, no question about it and our Happy Viking was destroying as center midfield passing the ball, taking her time and dribbling the BISS players.

Already in the second half, with one minute. Alva, who had already dribbled a BISS Beijing player between her legs, passed to Phoebe inside the box. Our right wing took a great shot at the goalie, who deflected on Hailey’s feet. Big mistake, Hailey quickly pushed that ball to the net. SCIS 5 x 0. Two minutes later, Sinead had an amazing chance but hit the crossbar. With 23 minutes in total in the match, BISS Beijing only crossed to our side of the field twice, just so you understand how dominating we were. Tehillah and Mikayla were rock solid defending.

Alva ScoreOn the 5th minute of the second half, our Happy Viking, dominating the midfield, shot from our mid-offensive field an score a goal with the ball passing between the legs of BISS Beijing goalie. That was AWESOME. A good reward for a perfect match for Alva. After her goal, I took Hailey out (I was still worried about her ankle) and had Alice as striker and the pressure continued. Mikayla from a free kick forced their goalie to do a great save. For the last 5 minutes of the match, I’ve rested Mikayla and had Franziska to play as a defender and believe me, as a defender, Franziska found Hailey inside the box  with a gorgeous pass. Hail Gribble trapped the ball, turn and scored our last goal on the last minute of the match. 7 x 0 SCIS.

It was the most perfect match I ever saw the Amazon Warriors playing. Bella did not touc the ball a single time, not even in a goal kick. We applied an absurd pressure on BISS Beijing, with all our 11 players. It was so beautiful to watch. I was extremely happy that Bella did not have to work, specially considering her foot. On the sad note, Tehillah injured her foot, a bruise on her right foot when she crashed with a player from BISS Beijing. I hope she can play the finals.

Goals:  Hailey (3), Inês, Alice, Franziska, Alva
Assists:  Franziska
MVP of the match: Alva

ACAMIS DAY 2 – MATCH #5 Vs BISS Pudong

Finally the match we were waiting for. At least that I was waiting for. I’ve practice specifically for that match, using our hamburger formation. I was certain that this would be the right strategy to exhaust their energy and then counter attack to win the match. There are two key players that we must pay attention at all times; their #13 and their #30. #13 had been the four years in their team so we know precisely how she plays. As a matter of a fact, I think in the whole ACAMIS she is the only one that can say proudly that she won against SCIS. She was part of the team of our only two losses in ACAMIS in the last four years, in 2011 when we lost 4 x 0 to them and then lost in the final 3 x 2. The other player is a clever striker with a good dribble and great pass. We must keep a constant eye on them.

I think plans exists only to be thrown away. 10 minutes before the match, one of our key players on hamburger got sick. I mean, sick sick. Kyra was throwing up on the edge of the field, with Hailey cheering for her. That’s what I call friendship. So now I did not only lost Hailey and Kyra but I would not be able to play the formation that I had planned. On our side was the fact that a week ago we had a match against them here in Shanghai and we won without any major problem. Also, BISS had a hard time against KAS and ended up tied 0 x 0, which gave us the tied score for this match.

We started with Bella, Tehillah and Mikayla, Alva on the right, Suh-Young on the left and inês center with Franziska as striker. BISS started the match doing what they always do, their #13 shoots the ball from the middle all the way to our goalie. Mikayla’s job was the most ungrateful one. She had to shadow the #30 for almost the whole match.

The match started extremely tense but at the same time extremely fair for both sides. For the first 5 minutes we spent more time attacking than defending but we knew that any distractions would be lethal and we had a taste of it at the 8th minute. #30 won a ball against Mikayla headed towards our box, Tehillah and Alva did not decided who actually would get the ball so Alva shot the ball on Tehillah’s face and the ball ended up on the foot of their #2 but we have Bella. Our Swedish Black Spider (in this case grey) jumped like a cat on #2 feet and got the ball. As a matter of a fact, I love Bella’s personality. Not later in the game, at the 11th minute, there was a free kick for Pudong and the #13, who has a great shot, as getting ready to shoot. I shouted to Bella to be careful with the left side and while the #13 was shooting, my Swedish Black Spider shouts back: “I’m on it!”and as she said, she easily got the ball. I never had a team that felt so safe with a goalie like those two years with Bella. She is amazing!

I’ve noticed that almost every throw-in, every free-kick was taken by their #13 but she would take all the time of the world to take those. I guess she was already tired and that was a way to catch her breath. When she was taking the goal kicks, it gave us a little breathing room in the center midfield, considering it would take a while to her to be there. On the other hand, when we were attacking it was a throw in to BISS, it was stressing all the time she took to throw the ball. Anyway, it was 0 x 0 so I felt it was kind of ok because it would also give time to our players to rest. Besides one slow shot from #13  at the end of the first half, not much happened.

Second half. I was more worried about our physical conditions than anything else. Everybody was telling me they were ok so we started the second half with the same time that ended first. And we started strong. Franziska was driving their defenders crazy with her speed and power. She already had a free-kick and a good shot at their goal.

I would like to address also how windy it was. If you see the video, you can see the trees on the back really bending to the left side, so this makes even hard to run and to pass the ball. Also that little cotton thing, flying everywhere, looking like snow, was being swallowed by all players with does not help at all for sure.

Bella Saves the Day!Then with 5 minutes of the second half, BISS started to “enjoy” the game and pressure us. Mikayla, that was flawless until then shadowing #30, was out of her position to take the ball away from BISS #2 but she accidentally passed the ball to BISS #13, who quickly founded #30 alone, in front of our ball. It was all written to be a goal. But who thought that, does not know that we have a Swedish Black Spider as goalie. Bella operated a miracle! She threw herself at the feet of #30, stretching her right arm and saving that goal. It was like seeing a professional goalie. What a save!

Sofika Scores an amazing goal.So much pressure from BISS would result in a goal. And what a goal! In a throw-in, we deflected the ball on the left side of our box. It landed on the lethal feet of their #13. She pretended that would shoot, fooling Alice and with her left foot, shot a gorgeous ball over Bella, dying inside our net. It was almost like the impossible goal from Franziska a week ago during SISAC. Beautiful shot with no chance for Bella.

Sometimes I question myself why our team is so good and win so much. It’s very easy to point out that we win because we are better but why are we better? If I could point out a specific attribute that make my Amazon Warriors special is the fact they never give up. Not only this but every time the ball goes back in the central circle, no matter if it’s our goal or the other team’s goal, we press the reset button. We restart. We consider that the match starts right now. With Inês off the field resting, it was up to Franziska to get the ball in our net, walk calmly to the center midfield, and reset. Although the scoreboard said 0 x 1 to BISS, for us the match was starting now.  And we had 11 minutes at least to tie that match.

If before #13 would take long for every throw-in, now seemed even longer so we had to avoid letting the ball out because of that. Also, Mikayla was already getting exhausted pursuing #30 but she was key to our game plan so I could not really sub, specially not having Kyra available.

On one of those throw-ins, Franziska, that was helping the defenders, pushed an incredible counter-attack, crossing the ball to Phoebe alone in the box but unfortunately the ball was a bit too high and too strong to Phoebe to trap it. It would had been a great opportunity. With seven minutes, was Franziska who missed a great chance. Wonder Alice shot a ball from far away, a defender deflected and Franziska stretched her left foot but the ball went too high.

Alice ScoresMikayla was “running on fumes”, with zero energy. I begged her to stay a little longer on the field and even exhausted, she still was blocking any attack from the #30. I was already preparing in my mind the speech that “we lost when we actually could because we still can be champions” blah blah blah when 2 minutes to end, the Swedes saved the day. Alva from the right, dribbled #20 and shot to the goal, their defenders deflected the ball and God wanted this ball to end up on the feet of our cute Wonder Alice. Even with three BISS players in front of her, she took a shot with her left foot, completely taking BISS goalie off guard. GOAL!!!! 1 x 1!!

The goal cooled off BISS girls, not believing in what happened. We still had a free kick that Franziska took brilliantly but it was a bit too in the middle and the goalie got it. Alva still had a rebound but time was up.

It was a tie that felt like a victory. We kept our undefeated streak, we were first in the round robin and we did not let BISS beat us. What else could I ask? For sure, from one player I could not ask more. Mikayla may had not score a goal in this match but what she did for the team was incredible. She definitely took one for the team, specially considering she had a nose bleeding in the match before and still she was full force in the field. A true Amazon Warrior. Our Wonder Alice, cute but fighting like a giant, saved us from a defeat. Both of them are vital for this team. Now, let’s prepare for the next day. Semifinal Vs BISS Beijing, the team that played against us with all players back. The goal will be to score two goals as fast as we can so we can rotate players. Now it’s time to celebrate and rest since I can still proudly say…. BELLATORUM INVICTUM!

Goals:  Alice
Assists:
MVP of the match: Mikayla

ACAMIS DAY 2 – MATCH #4 Vs BCIS

It’s impossible to deny that we played this match thinking about the following one, against BISS Pudong. Still, either to keep out winning streak or just to be the first place, we were focused on winning this one so we could arrive to the last match of Round Robin depending only on ourselves. BISS Pudong was doing their part; they had won all their matches we were almost tied in goal difference.

With Hailey out for the day and wanting to rest Franziska for the last match of the day, I had Tehillah as striker, with Inês center-midifield, Alva and Alice as wings and Mikayla and Kyra defending. Mikayla had the unfortunate role of keeping an eye on BCIS #10. She is notorious for having a short temper but she has skills and is VERY physical but since she did not start playing, Mikayla was just protecting our defensive side while Kyra was our last defender.

Our first chance was with Alva, on the third minute, getting a rebound from a shot from Tehillah. Our Unbreakable Dutch was having a hard time to position herself. It was the first time she was playing as a striker but still, she is a fighter. One minute later, she fought for the ball on the left corner, won it and pushed towards BCIS goal but the goalie defended.

On the 6th minute an amazing play. Mikayla avoided a counter-attack, passing to Alva. Alva passed to Inês, that returned the ball with one touch and advanced a little. Alva passed back to her and our Portuguese Brain had an amazing pass to Alice inside the box. The ball was out for just a little.

Due to the pollution, we played this match with 4 quarters of 10 minutes. Almost at the end of the 1st quarter, their #10 was already complaining with her own team out loud. I am super happy that one of our strengths is the teamwork. Even if the girls are not all BFFs from each other, we respect ourselves at least inside the field.

For the second quarter, some changes. Franziska as striker and Phoebe as the right wing on Alice’s place. Unfortunately, with 2 minutes of the 2nd quarter, a ball hit Mikayla on the face and her nose starts to bleed a lot. Nice Tacuma walked her to the nurse to help her out. What a gentleman!

We kept pressuring. I have to say that BCIS was playing well holding us back at the same time trying to attack. It was completely different from BISS Beijing that had all the team defending. With 6 minutes into the second quarter, Alva on the left dribbled one and shot a beautiful ball that went over the goalie but hit the crossbar. Such a pity!

Kyra Pointing to InêsWell, if BCIS was holding well our attackers, let’s call our defenders to help attacking! On a corner kick, with all BCIS team defending, Kyra came to the edge of the box and got a gorgeous pass from Inês. First attempt hit a defender’s arm but the second time our Glass Head shot was away from the reach of BCIS goalie on the right side. 1 x 0 . And that was it for the 2nd quarter.

For the 3rd quarter more changes. Now on the left I had Suh-Young and Alva as center midfield so Inês could finally rest. Alice was back on the right wing and Kyra and Tehillah defending. During this time BCIS had some more time on our defensive field but still did not shoot at Bella. I was getting a bit concerned because 1 x 0 can be very tricky.  I was eager to have one more goal in our favour. 2 x 0 for me is a comfortable enough score. Only once in the whole season we conceded more than one goal (against Dulwich at the final match of SISAC). Nothing more happened on the 3rd quarter.

Foot Ines FaceFor the 4th quarter, a very scary moment. Right in the beginning, fighting for a ball, BCIS #10 lifted her foot really high and at the same time Inês lowered her head. I freaked out. I was sure that Inês was kicked on the face but luckily Inês jumped on the last minute and nothing happened but as you can see on the frame here, it was EXTREMELY scaring.

With 4 minutes, our Unbreakable Dutch trapped a ball on our defensive system and pushed forward, passing to Inês. Our Portuguese Brain shot, the goalie deflected and she still got the rebound but when she shot, a defender was on the goal line and saved it! I can’t believe! With one minute and a half to end the match, Kyra, once more her to save the day, advances on the left and shoot a lobby ball from far the goalie deflects and Franziska, as a natural striker as she is, scores our second goal. NOW we could rest a little, with only one minute to go. Just avoid any major trouble, hope that nobody get injured and get ready for the last match of the day.

Goals:  Kyra, Franziska
Assists:  Inês
MVP of the match: Kyra

ACAMIS DAY 2 – MATCH #3 Vs KAS

Observing the others team matches pays off. Yesterday I was watching KAS vs BCIS and I’ve noticed how skilful their #1 was. Very good at passing and dribbling. This rose my concern level, considering today we will play three matches and the last match of the day is against BISS Pudong, the other great team in ACAMIS. To make things even more challenging, temperature were around 28 degrees and pollution levels 205. This would call to modify the match, in our case, it was 1st half 20 minutes and 2nd half 15 minutes. Later in the day, the organization had a better decision by instead of shortening, stop every 10 minutes for a break.

Against KAS we started with Bella, Kyra and Mikayla, Inês, Suh-Young, Alva and Franziska. Like I’ve said above, their #1 is good and the actual first chance of goal in the match came from her, a slow shot at our goal that our Swedish Black Spider defended easily. Right after, the first accident in the match; Alva stretches a pass to Franziska, where she sprints together with their #6. The problem is that their #6 crashes into their own goalie, hurting the goalie’s knee. Game is paused for 3 minutes since seemed very serious, unfortunately.

With a new goalie, KAS kept their good game, with us keeping an eye on their #1. Mikayla was almost shadowing her when she managed to get a ball on the side of our box. Mikayla took the ball away from her and the #1 fell and the referee gave a free kick. Right after, another dangerous free kick. Kyra tried to get rid of the ball and hit Inês hands ALMOST on the line of the penalty box. Both free kicks were out.

It was a weird game with neither team having full control of the match. The first solid goal chance was at  12 minutes when Franziska when Alva gave a wonderful pass to Franziska in the box but the goalie saved. Things changed when the following minute, our Portuguese Brain passed to our Happy Viking and she shot outside the reach of the goalie. 1 x 0 SCIS, way to go, Alva!

Tehillah CrashNow with Tehillah on Mikayla’s position, was her job to shadow #1, which she did a little bit too close, defying the Laws of Physics that says two bodies cannot occupy the same space. With 16 minutes, both of them crashed against each other and since our Dutch is indestructible, KAS #1 fell to the ground. I have to say that watching the video, I saw her some minutes early asking to be subbed so I guess besides the crash, she was already exhausted. The problem is since Tehillah kept standing up, of course seemed to be all Tehillah’s fault, which was not. Unfortunately their #1 was out for the match.

The second half was fairly boring. We had Suh-young as striker with Phoebe and Tehillah defending, Sinead on the left and Alva on the right with Inês center midfield. The highlight of the second half was with 6 minutes to end the match, Sinead, Phoebe and Tehillah go to the same ball and misses it, ending up on the foot of a KAS player in front of Bella, with another player free on the left. Luckily KAS shot a slow ball and Bella defended it fairly easy. Right after, in a corner kick, one of the rare moments that Bella made a wrong call and the ball passed freely in front of out empty goal but there was no striker from KAS to push it into the net.

Before the final whistle, Suh-Young had some shots to score a goal but were weak shots or away of the goal. At least we managed to keep the ball away from out area. This game was the one that the ball spent more time in our defensive area in whole ACAMIS, believe it or not. No wonder BISS Pudong tied 0 x 0 vs them. So first match of the day done, two more to go.

Goals:  Alva
Assists:  Inês
MVP of the match: Alva

ACAMIS DAY 1 – MATCH #2 Vs BISS BEIJING

Second match of the day. Before talking about it, let me address the fact I’ve watched the two matches from BISS Pudong. Wow. They are playing REALLY well. Their center midfield (#25) and their striker (#30) are playing by music. It will be an incredible match against them tomorrow by the end of the day.

After a good start vs THIS, it was time to face the hosts, BISS Beijing. What a stress! Well, they came to this match with one goal, not concede goals. They literally stayed all defending. They had their best player inside their box almost the whole game! We had the absurd of 36 shots in 40 minutes. For the second half, it was their goalie taking a goal kick and we recovering that ball and pushing forward. Repeatedly.

Anyway, we started the match with Bella, Mikayla, Kyra defending, Inês center-midfield, Sinead on the left and Alice on the right with Franziska as the striker. To be sincere, at the first three minutes BISS Beijing actually was in our defensive system for a minute but as soon as we trapped them into a sequence of goal kicks, they did not leave anymore that space. Their captain, #4, was the one taking the goal kicks all the time. With the ball not leaving their defensive system, it was a shootout. First Sinead, then Franziska and then Inês shot a ball that hit the post at the 5th minute. Sinead was articulating well with Kyra on the left and gave an incredible pass to Inês on the 8th minute but the defenders deflected the shot. On the 13th minute, another exchange of passes that were great between Sinead, Inês and Alva, where she took a great shot at the goal but the goalie defended. And the “massacre” of shooting continues. Now at the last minute, Suh-Young and Alva also tried but there were so many players in the box that it was almost impossible. First half ended with a blank score. We dominated but did not score so we had 20 more minutes to change that.

Second half I’ve started with the same team that ended the first; Bella, Mikayla and Kyra, Inês, Suh-Young, Alva and Franziska. With one minute Alva headed a ball and almost score the first header goal from a cross ever in this team. With three minutes in the second half, Inês had a free kick and the goalie saved, the ball still hit the crossbar. Two minutes later, it was Suh-Young with a great chance that the goalie saved. Suh-Young was extremely well positioned later on and Inês found her inside the box but the goalie saved once more time. It was starting to get stressful. Specially on the 9th minute where on a corner kick, Mikayla get the ball, shoot at the goal, it’s deflected so Alva shoots and then Inês shoots a third time and the ball goes out. We were all forward now, with Mikayla being forward, as a pseudo center midfield. As a matter of a fact, the goal started with her. Almost as a left wing, she pushed the ball forward, passed to Alice. Our Wonder Alice gave a exquisite pass to Hailey who brilliantly served Inês, face to face with the goalie and did not missed. FINALLY! 1 x 0 SCIS. What a line of passing we did!

Kyra PenaltyUnfortunately, right after that, bad news. Trying to trap a ball on our offensive goal line, Hailey stepped on the ball and fell. In my mind it was Dalian all over again, when she badly twisted her ankle. I was a bit less worried for the fact she was walking but still, I immediately asked her to come off the field. While I was worrying with her, Alva took a shot at the goal and a defender deflected the ball with her hand so penalty for us! I thought it would e a good test for Kyra, one of our three main penalty kick takers in case we have to go to penalties. With her amazing constant eye-contact, she managed to score and then 2 x 0 for us. As a matter of a fact, Kyra got a shot with 2 minutes and a half to end from almost the midfield that hit the Cross bar and the pole, it was awesome!

Nothing really happened after that. It was a match that we dominated but the goals took a while to happen so we got a little anxious. Bella touched twice on the ball in this match, just as a reference.

I have to say something that is driving me insane here. They are timing the matches like basketball! When 20 minutes is up, they simply stop the match, no matter if we spent more time retrieving the ball or even if we are scoring a goal. In the first match, the time was up, the referee kept the game going and we scored a goal. Then the referee whistled the end of the half. The timekeeper came to me and said that our goal would not be counted because it was after the time. That’s unreal! At night, at the coaches dinner that I did not attend because I was chaperoning the kids, It was said that it will be still like that. Only for free kicks or penalties it would not be but if has rebound of either one of those, it would not count. I never saw that in my life. Anyway, let’s keep playing on and hope that nothing weird happens.

Goals:  Inês, Kyra
Assists:  Hailey
MVP of the match: Hailey, for the incredible assist to Inês.

ACAMIS DAY 1 – MATCH #1 Vs THIS

2014-04-23 17.45.43And here we are at the eve of our last tournament. We travelled to Beijing on the day before so we would be rested for the tournament starting on Thursday. Today was also a very special day since our German Panzer was turning 18. The whole team wore a shirt with her picture to celebrate the event and her mom prepared a real picnic at the boarding area at the airport. It was really cool. Congrats, Franziska!

The tournament, although hosted by BISS Beijing, it was played at Harrow International School. The school itself seemed brand new, recently open with great new buildings and most important, with a great turf to play football. What was not so good was the pollution levels. When we started our match we had 195 with 26 degrees of temperature. This was the first time THIS (Tsinghua International School) participates in ACAMIS. They were invited to fill the spot of the school from HK that never sent a girls team to play. We started the match with:  Bella, Tehillah, Mikayla, Inês, Suh-Young, Sinead and Hailey as striker. The idea was to rotate every player and give everybody a feeling for the turf so all the players would be prepared for the tournament and also not “overwork” any specific player. To make matches even more challenging, there were some cotton-like thing flying around, which was rather annoying.

We played like we always, pressuring from the beginning. With 38 seconds Sinead had a shot in front of the box and another chance 20 seconds later. In nine minutes, we had shot already 5 times at their goal, including a ball that our “speedy” Irish shot at the crossbar. Took a while until we finally open the score. Hailey pressured a defender while she was inside her own box and stole the ball from her. Then she shot this ball high, not a very strong shot but it was close range to the goalie and she could not hold it. 1 x 0 SCIS and our first goal of this ACAMIS tournament at the 13th minute. I was starting to get a bit worried considering the matches are really short, with 40 minutes in total.

Hail Gribble was on fire in this match! Four minutes after her goal, Mikayla headed a ball to Hailey, she trapped, pushed a little further and shot on the left side of the goalie. 2 x 0.

We pretty much kept pressuring then the absurd happened. Let me tell a bit of the background of the situation first. Every ACAMIS, before the tournament starts, we have a coaches meeting to go through any questions or concerns. One of the issues brought up by the organizers were length of the match. She said that no extra (injury) time would be given to keep the tournament on schedule. I totally understood that but what happened here was absurd. So, with 20 minutes sharp, someone on a table close to the field blows a horn, letting the referee knows. In our match, we were attacking, with Alva passing to Alice, who passed back to Alva, who shot a beautiful ball and scored a great goal. 3 x 0. The referee got the ball and restared the match in the center of the field  THEN blew the whistle announcing the end of first half. When we the players in the field were moving to the bench, someone from the table told me that the last goal did not count because it was after the horn. What?!? This is not a basketball match! That does not exist in football. I was rather annoyed by that. I totally understand the decision of limiting the time but in my decades playing football, I never saw the “table” overrule a referee’s decision. With that being said, I will count in out stats Alva’s goal with Alice’s assist. A truly Swedish goal!

For the second half I moved Alva to center midfield, substituted Inês by Phoebe, Hailey by Franziska, Mikayla by Kyra  and our team kept playing the same intensity. I am amazed how our Amazon Warriors are levelled. No matter who is in the field, we keep pushing it forward like nothing changed. With three minutes, Phoebe, Alva and Franziska had already shot at their goal, with Franziska hitting the post, which happened again 2 minutes later.

On the 6th minute of the second half, our Wonder Alice started feeling dizzy. I don’t know if because of the pollution or the heat or both. Sinead got into the field. Two minutes later, Phoebe also asked to be substituted and Hailey got back in the right wing. With a brand new team on the field, THIS had their first corner. We were able to recover the ball and counter attack with Alva passing to Sinead, who passed back. Our Happy Viking shot, the defenders deflected and Franziska got the rebound and shot it, scoring our 4th goal. 4 x 0 SCIS.

With 11 minutes of the second half, THIS had the first shot at the goal which Bella easily defended. We attacked, Hailey passing to Franziska, that pushed the ball on the right wing while Hailey was moving to the middle. Franziska founded her there and Hailey to the shot. Hat trick for her and our 5th goal. 5 x 0 SCIS. Wait, there is more from our German Panzer. Franziska fought for a ball in the midfield, pushed forward as a torpedo and when she was face to face with the goalie, shot a missile on the right side. 6 x 0 SCIS.

We still had time for one more. With one minute to end the match, Hailey was fighting for a ball on the left side of our attacking field when she saw our Speedy “Irish”. Sinead did not think twice and shot towards the goal. I guess the goalie was expecting a cross or something and the ball died inside the net. Congrats Sinead! I know how dedicated you are to the team and I was extremely happy to see you scoring in an ACAMIS tournament. SCIS 7 x 0.

It was a great start for us, with a rather easy match and with everybody having time on the field so the anxiety of playing the first match would be over. There is nothing to adjust in this team for now, with all players doing exactly what they had been told. Unfortunately we could not test our defenders to Tehillah, Mikayla and Kyra had zero trouble for now. I am sure this will change against BISS Pudong but until then, let’s practice our attacking force.

Goals:  Hailey (3), Alva, Franziska (2), Sinead
Assists:  Alice, Franziska, Hailey
MVP of the match: Hailey

PRACTICE #19 – THE LAST ONE… EVER

So the day that I did not want to arrive, it’s here. The last practice ever. I say “ever” because I am not going to coach after SCIS. It’s too much stress and commitment. Besides that, where will I find an amazing group of athletes like this one?

So today we started with a meeting my class to go through the ACAMIS info and plans of what we should do during the competition. After that, once more practicing tactics. This time, it was perfect! Everybody executing their role perfectly. We played three quarters of 20 minutes and I had the chance of playing with the girls for one last time. It was really cool. It was also very fun to see Hailey as a goalie for a while.

After the tactics practice, penalty kicks. First I wanted to be no goalies. I put a small goal inside the big one, leaving just two little spaces on the sides so they would be forced to take it out of the middle. The girls complained and someone asked me to be goalie. Well, I used to be a goalie a looooooong time ago so it was an interested challenge. I defied them; whoever could score two goals on me on a row, could leave. Congrats to Inês, that finally after 4 years was able to finally score a goal on me. :) I did not want my goalies to be in the goal because our turf hurts and defending 40+ penalty kicks can be very harsh and painful. Also, they need to practice taking the penalty kicks because there is a chance in the game that they will have to shoot. I already have in my mind who will be at least the first 3 takers will be.

Well, we are ready for ACAMIS.In Beijing we will have the chance of making history once more and there is no better group of athletes to make it possible. My Amazon Warriors, 7 more battles to the Olympus!

INTERNATIONAL DINNER 2014

 

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Once more, the von Wahl family offered their home to host our amazing international banquet. If you thought last year was amazing, this year was incredible! We had food from Portugal, Germany, Sweden, USA, Brazil, Korea, Italy, Netherlands and even Australia! We invited Marta and Lily to join us. Lily was our official reporter throughout the season and she kindly enough brought a Australian dish (delicious!) Bella’s mom sent as gift for the girls a pair of footballs earrings, really cool.

 

We talked (or maybe it was me, I am not so sure now:)  ) for hours, reliving the amazing SISAC league/tournament. Kudos for the “hand” performance of Alva, Tehillah and Emma. The best part (and I am not ashamed of saying) are the leftovers. I always bring it home and then have delicious food for a week. This year, unfortunately, the girls were hungry! We did not have that much leftovers! I did not see the Kaptzan’s Pulled Pork! So disappointing. :) On the other hand, Alva and Tehillah made enough pancakes to feed the Chinese population.