Sophomore Mollie Pathman is traveling to La Manga, Spain with the U-20 U.S. Women's National Team. She is going to be providing a blog during the trip so Blue Devil soccer fans can follow the team on this special trip. To submit questions for Pathman, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. She wants to know what you want to hear about her trip to Spain.
Wednesday, Feb. 8
Today we had one training session and another regeneration session. The training session was supposed to mimic what the full national team does before games. We warmed up and then went right into technical passing. Following that we played a few minutes of 11 vs. 11 to get our rhythm and we ended practice with 4 v 4 and 5 v 5. It wasn't too physically taxing but was good to get moving and get our heart rates up. They have us wear heart rate monitors so they can tell how intense each practice is and make sure we aren't under or over training. We also wear the heart rate monitors during games so they can find our target heart rate.
The regeneration session was very similar to Tuesday's regeneration. They emphasize how important regeneration is for our performance in the games.
After dinner, we had a meeting where we went over a scouting report for Switzerland and watched film from them in its European World Cup qualifications last year. We also watched some game film of us at camp against Shanghai. They wanted to show us some of the positive things we did in that camp so we could carry them over into our game against Switzerland.
Thursday, Feb. 9
My day started out great. I woke up to a text informing me that Duke men's basketball won last night! (congrats, GO DUKE!) I rolled over and proudly announced the score to my roommate, who happens to play for UNC.
The early morning excitement carried over into my game in the afternoon.
We played Switzerland and won 10-0. It was a very fun game to play in. For the most part, we had good possession and combined well together. It was so nice to finally play together instead of against each other like we had been doing earlier in the week.
We did a great job finishing our opportunities and shutting them down defensively. It was a good result but now we have to move on to our game against Germany on Saturday, which will be better competition. We will watch film and discuss the game more tomorrow, there is a lot we can learn from discussing the game. The games we play this week are all great preparation for our World Cup qualifiers at the end of the month. All the teams we play have already qualified from the EUFA (Europe) championship for the World Cup.
For the games, they have put a big emphasis on our hydration because in qualifications we are only allowed three subs and it will be incredibly hot in Panama. We had a hydration test before the game and if we weren't hydrated then our playing time would have been reduced. Luckily we all were properly hydrated!
Are there any aspects of your game that you consciously change/adjust because you are playing international competition?
I play defense with the national team and forward with Duke so my game has to change a fair amount and so does my role for the team when I play with the national team. But I still am able to get forward and take people on down-line like I do when I play forward.
Specifically in relation to international competition with the national team, I have to prepare for the referees to call against us and for the other team to employ different game tactics. For example, the first time I ever played internationally, when I was 13 in Costa Rica, I was shocked about how much the Central American teams flopped and faked injuries to disrupt our rhythm of play. Each team and country has their own style of play and own tendencies so it takes some getting used to. Also, it's sometimes hard to communicate with the referees and other players due to language barrier.
How hard is it to be gone from school for so long and be able to keep up with your school? Are the professors understanding?
They give us some time to do homework while we are gone but it is difficult to keep up. I try to do as much as a can while I am away but get most of it done when I am back at Duke. We are all taking different course loads this semester, some reduced hours or are taking online classes. I am taking a full load (four courses) but one of them is an independent study. For the other three, my professors have been unbelievably understanding and accommodating. Without them being so supportive I probably would have had to take the semester off.