Hello again everyone!
Today was one of the most relaxing days of the trip thus far. We started the day with a bit of conditioning with the ball at a nearby field and made a quick turn around to get showered and out of the hotel by 9AM to beat the traffic on our way to the Cinque Terre area located in the Levanto region. After a two-hour bus ride, we were dropped off at a local bus stop and caught the bus which took us to Portovenere. Portovenere, also known as the “pearl of the region” as Jess Libow ’16 repeatedly reminded everyone, is a beautiful Italian town located on the Mediterranean coast. To say it was beautiful would be an absolute understatement. The water was clear blue, the rocky beaches were stunning, and the shops and restaurants had beautiful scarves, dresses, jewelry and amazing food. The Levanto region of Italy is known for its pesto which made many people on the team very happy, although none more so than Michelle Babicz ’15 who has officially been given the superlative “most likely to leave a restaurant if they don’t serve pesto.”
In small groups, the team explored the city by looking around at the shops, climbing to the top of a local castle/church (it’s up for debate), swimming in the Mediterranean (casual), and of course getting the classic post meal dessert, gelato. One group learned about different kinds of pasta made in Italy during lunch and even bought some to bring back to their parents (hopefully your child was in this group). It was very cool to experience an Italian beach town and to see Italian culture up close and personal.
Five glorious hours and a few sunburned shoulders later, we made our way back to the bus to head to our first friendly match of the trip. It took about an hour and a half to get there, and when we arrived we were greeted with dinner waiting for us, which made many people very happy. It was a traditional Italian meal: delicious pasta with salad and chicken served after. We were able to relax for about two hours after eating. That entire time was spent telling jokes and riddles as well as coming up with as many other words for “bathroom” in the English language as possible (we got up to 21 thank you very much). It was great to relax with everyone in one place for a few hours. Around 7PM we headed out to the field to warm up for our game against Real Arenzano.
At 8PM we were underway and the Fords were met with fierce competition. After a foul called against a Real Arenzano player’s foot to Mariah Baker ‘14’s face, Dominique Caggiano ’15 scored off an indirect kick early on in the game. This was not only her first collegiate goal but also her first international goal, making her Italian ancestors proud. Not soon after, Real Arenzano tied up the score with a great ball over the top to an incredibly quick forward who beat Robin Chernow ’15 one on one. Not letting this deter our momentum, Phoebe Miller ’15 cleverly ricocheted the ball off of an opposing defender and the goalkeeper to put the Fords up 2-1. A few minutes later, Real Arenzano scored to put us at 2-2 going in to halftime.
At halftime we talked about continuing to play calm and enjoying this amazing opportunity. Throughout the second half, everyone battled and had good instincts in terms of ball movement and making certain runs. Unfortunately, Real Arenzano scored the game-winning goal about halfway through the second half making the final score 3-2. Despite the loss, there are many positives that can be taken away from the game. Coach Gluck said she was very happy with our work ethic and how well players adjusted to positions they were not used to. Having only 12 healthy players available, everyone was really put out of their comfort zones. Coach also said that although the execution of some runs or some played balls were not quite there, the ideas definitely were. Considering this is the first game we have played together since last November, we know the communication and timing will come as we get used to playing together again. All in all, it was a solid starting point for our upcoming season.
Tomorrow morning we depart for Milan for some more soccer, sightseeing, pizza making, white water rafting, and of course incredible shopping in the fashion capital of the world. Needless to say, everyone is very excited! I will continue to update you all once we get settled in Milan tomorrow night!