The first official day of the tournament is here (yesterday). Our game was the second to last game of the day, starting at 7 pm. This gave us all day to get nervous and also find creative ways to work out our nervous energy.
We spent some time watching video, meditating, and reviewing team strategy. This helped prepare us well for the upcoming battle. We did not know what to expect from Turkey coming into this game as the U21 women's team had won the U21 world championships last year.
Around 4 pm we finally headed to the pool. We planned to get there early to go through our gear and make sure we had all of our suits and caps. We did a little dancing and did some team stretching and breathing exercises before our water warm up. Once in water we did some swimming to warm up our ankles and lungs. We finished a bit early and allowed everyone time to personalize the remainder depending on what they need.
Ten minutes before game time, we lined up ready to walk up the stairs to the pool deck. We walked up to the pool for the national anthem. We felt pride as we stood their getting ready to represent the United States of America. The captains exchanged pennants, and quickly got ready to play.
The game started off fast. Our sprinter barely got to the ball first, but did not gain clear possession. From there the rest of the game was a series of swarming pit of sardines. We are not clear if to call this a jumble or scrum, because we have never played like this before. We prefer to play under the water, but it felt like every time we received a pass, there were two or three Turkish ladies on us, dragging us up to the surface.
We came into the game with a good plan on how to defend around our goal, and we did it well. Turkey scored one goal in the first half. They had stolen our basket, after tricking our goalie to go up. The girl who had stolen our basket stayed down a long time our goalies rotated above her, but unfortunately she managed to stay down and received the ball and scored the goal about 9 minutes into the game. The rest of the first half was jumbled up at the surface with the occasional swim across the pool.
The second half began similarly, with both teams got the the ball at about the same time. We had worked our nerves out during the first half, and we did a better job at swimming the scrum across the pool into the Turkish half.
At about 5 minutes into the second half, we were keeping the ball on their side for a while, and at one point Luisa won the scrum and was able to get a pass down to Yuli who did a quick pass to Jacqui who then passed to Laura who was waiting below. Laura was able to and capitalized on a mistake in the rotation of the goalies on their basket, but still had to fight off the defender as she pushed the ball in behind them. It was a goal for the ages, also the last goal of her teenage years!! It is her birthday today!!
The remainder of the game was a bit more fun as we were able to do more swimming and quick passes, but still some scrums on the surface. We ended with a tie at 1:1, as the only close game the entire day.
Today, we have our second game against Spain at 7:00 pm CET (1:00 pm EST, 12:00 pm CST, 11:00 am MST, 10:00 am 10:00 am PST). Live steaming link should be here.
P.S. Happy Birthday Laura!!!