Women's soccer team ventures to U.K. for summer trip
Adventuring beyond the familiar windy curves of New England roads, the women's soccer team returns from a 10-day trip to England and Scotland with a winning record against three local teams.
On the field, Dartmouth finished with a 2-0-1 record, defeating the Doncaster Rovers Belles, an English semi-professional team, and the Ranger Football Club, a member of the Scottish Women's Premier League. The Big Green's final match against the Hibernia Football Club, also a member of the Scottish Women's Premier League, ended in a 2-2 tie.
Playing against international opponents allowed the team to experiment with new tactics and positions, captain Emma Brush '13 said. Since the trip only included three classes of returning players, everyone received significant playing time.
Ari Kenyon '14, Brush and Kelly Bach '16 said the team's success against world class competition gave them confidence heading into the upcoming season.
"Being able to play three games helped our team so much in terms of keeping the momentum going from last season," Kenyon said. "In-game experience is always super valuable."
Dartmouth finished last season second in the Ivy League, one game behind league winner Princeton University, and just missed the League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. This year, the team hopes to improve on that performance with an Ivy League title.
Bach said the June playing experience was helpful because of the team's late preseason and the limits on practices and games during the spring season, which is mandated by Ivy League rules for off-seasons.
"This year we'll have a leg up because we've played three games and had that bonding experience," Bach said.
With only three games in 10 days, the Big Green spent most of its time exploring England and Scotland. The team took a walking tour through Edinburgh, toured the castle used in the "Harry Potter" movies, took a London river cruise and even watched a performance of "Wicked."
"We talk a lot about being a family on and off the field," Kenyon said. "This was definitely one of those opportunities to keep building this family."
A highlight was a tour of Celtics Park Stadium, the storied home of Celtic FC , made sweeter by the Big Green's victory over the Rangers later in the day.
"At the stadium all of us got that urge, we wanted to play so badly," Kenyon said. "It got us thinking about our own season and thinking about how much we want win the Ivy League and be on that national arena."
Even during less exciting periods of down time, Big Green found ways to take advantage of its time together. Bach said this demonstrates the team's ability to "make fun out of any situation."
"One thing you don't think about is that everywhere we went, we had these really long bus rides to get there," she said. "Instead of having a boring bus ride, we would end up playing games on the bus."
Having a small group allowed the returning players to become more cohesive, Kenyon said. This fall, the team will focus on welcoming its freshmen into this "cohesive team culture."
"We're looking to incorporate the new freshmen into the team because they're a talented and enthusiastic group," Brush said.
After a successful trip, the Big Green women will spend the summer improving their fitness and soccer skills.
"The summer allows you to take the opportunity to be a little selfish to develop yourself as a player," Kenyon said.
Big Green also came away from the trip with a written list of goals for the season, Brush said.
"We finished last season playing the kind of soccer we want to be playing," Brush said. "Now we're just looking to go in a bigger and better direction."