Friday, April 4, 2014
The Pinewood Prep girls’ and boys’ varsity soccer teams took jolly old England by storm last week, playing a series of games, participating in a training session and watching some English Premier League games.
“This trip was a great opportunity for the squads, many of who are in their third year on Pinewood’s varsity soccer teams and really growing into their roles,” Pineweood coach Gail Osborne said. “It challenged them in some new ways and will help us as we build throughout the rest of our season. The girls and boys had to prepare for new games against completely unknown opponents, and they really stepped up. I’m proud of the way they played consistently throughout the week, in less-than-ideal weather and against some very physical opponents.”
Pinewood arrived into Manchester airport and set out on its itinerary immediately by touring Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United. The next day the teams were headed into Liverpool and toured Anfield where Liverpool FC plays and is currently challenging for the top of the Premier League. Later that day, the Pinewood girls played their first matches of the week taking on the Crewe and Alexandra Ladies team and also the Stockport County Ladies team.
The next day the team headed back into Manchester and visited the National Football Museum. It was then time for the boys’ team to play its first match of the tour taking on a high school team Ashton-on-Mersey. The girls’ team then traveled to Blackburn to play Blackburn Rovers.
The group then left the Manchester/Liverpool area and headed into London. Both teams played matches against the Academy teams of West Ham United before taking a quick drive from the training ground to Upton Park where the group watched its first English Premier League game of West Ham against Hull City.
The team was able to tour London the next day and had the opportunity to ride the London Eye before heading back to play two matches against Harvesters FC and experienced playing on a 3G artificial turf pitch and also played in hail – a new experience for the teams! The group spent a second day in London and they were able to be tourists and visit Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street and a whole host of other amazing sights.
The England trip – which is the second international trip for the Pinewood soccer teams – included a coaching session with Premier League coaches at West Bromich Albion. That Saturday both the boys and girls trained in an indoor arena at the West Brom Football Club complex, where coaches led them through a series of speed and skill drills and then observed and critiqued a 7-v-7 scrimmage. The team was taken on a tour at the Stadium before sitting down and watching their second Premier League game of the week against West Brom and Cardiff.
“It was encouraging for the team to continue to be successful against challenging opponents, this time in an international setting,” Lady Panther captain Kaley Katsanis said.”We certainly are looking forward to continuing our experience back at home.”
Osborne is hoping the trip will serve as a spring board for the rest of the season. “We’ve gotten off to a terrific start this season and want to continue it when we get right back into region play this week,” she said. “England is, of course, well known for its soccer success, and our guest coaches all commented on our team’s athleticism, work ethic and team spirit. I can’t wait to see how that plays out against our SCISA opponents as we continue our season in South Carolina.”