Women’s Soccer Kicks into Full Gear

Mitchell Smith

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Some teams have their first game of the season at home, others have to travel an hour or two away, but this summer the Whitman women’s soccer team traveled for close to 24 hours to reach their first opponent: Bridgwater College in SE England. Sophomores Naomi Lee and Emma Onstad-Hawes were able to report back on this trip.

Photo courtesy of Whitman women's soccer team.

Photo courtesy of Whitman women’s soccer team.

After 22 hours and 45 minutes worth of traveling, the Whitman women’s soccer team arrived in Bristol, England, exhausted but ready for the opportunity of a lifetime. Many things were uncertain: We had precious few subs for the five games we were scheduled to play, we hadn’t played together as a team for months and we were adjusting to having a new coach. However, none of these factors curbed our excitement for the three weeks we were about to spend together.

We played against a variety of teams, ranging from schools such as Bridgwater College to professional clubs like Tottenham Hotspur Ladies F.C. and West Bromwich. We ended with a record of 2-2-1, which was solid considering the fact that we had no subs for four of the five games. Our recently graduated goalkeeper, Emily Davis, even made a guest appearance on the field as a forward in a few of the games to give sick and injured players a rest.

Despite the low numbers, the trip was an incredible growing experience for our team. We learned a lot about our playing style and what we wanted to accomplish in the coming year. We came back to Walla Walla with a solid foundation for the season, excited to start preseason with the new first-years.

When we weren’t playing games or practicing, we were exploring different areas of England. We made several trips into Gloucester, a 15-minute bus ride from the college campus we were staying at. We attempted to see as much of London as we could in a span of six hours. We visited Weston-super-Mare, the town where Mike Washington (the men’s team coach) grew up. Some people went to see Stonehenge while others explored Tewkesbury.

Photo courtesy of Whitman women's soccer team.

Photo courtesy of Whitman women’s soccer team.

We toured Old Trafford (Manchester United’s stadium) and were awed by its history and vastness. We took the train to the city of Bath, which became a team favorite. While we were there, we toured the old Roman baths and marveled at the fusion of old history and modern culture.

We returned stateside extremely tired but full of unforgettable experiences that we realized we were extremely lucky to have. Over the course of the trip we not only became international footballers, but also formed a new team identity and ideals that will continue to be a part of Whitman women’s soccer long after we graduate. We start our regular season with five extra games under our belt and a united team spirit. We’ve decided to not only be a team, but a family.

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