UNCG senior Cat Barnekow recently was invited for a tryout for the Filipino National Team and after two short weeks Barnekow has made quite an impression on the team. Below is her Blog, talking about her first games and continuing to play high level soccer.
So I arrived in California at LAX two weeks ago just before midnight. Even though it was really late it was great because I was able to meet a few of the players from the Filipino National Team since they landed at LAX also. They were all really nice and surprisingly spoke great English. I embarrassingly assumed that these ladies would be traveling from the Philippines to the states for the first time and could only speak Tagolic. However that night and these past weeks, I've realized much of the players from the original National team who were able to come to the states are from all over the states and one from Canada.
The next morning was our first official training with the National team at Cal State Fullerton. It was very exciting to see all the players who were trying out. There were around 40 ladies varying in ages who came to train with the Malditas. Before we could even start training, Cal State Fullerton informed us that the team was not allowed to play because our training session would violate an NCAA regulation. So we went back to our hotel as a team with all the parents where Coach Ernie talked about the National team and some general questions. Something I learned was the meaning of the word Malditas, the "nickname" for the national team, are fierce rebellious women. Later that day we had a night session with all the ladies. It was really great being able to practice with all these players especially since I hadn't played since the season ended.
There were a lot of players who came to the tryouts; about half were there to try out for the u19 group and half for the senior group. Over the next couple days we practiced in the morning and afternoon. On Friday for the afternoon sessions we had a scrimmage against each other and it was the first time that everyone was really able to show their strengths as a player in their positions. I played well and was able to show Coach Ernie that I can be an asset to the team.
The following Saturday the u19 group played a game against Santa Clarita and tied 1-1. While the senior group stayed at the hotel to rest for the two friendly games we had Sunday.
Sunday came and we were scheduled to play the Cosmos and the LA Vikings who were the top teams in the LA Vikings tournament we would be competing in at the end of November. The LA Vikings were the first team we were to play and the whole team was very nervous because we only had two practices together and the LA Vikings were supposed to have national team players on it, among other respected players. As we were warming up for our game we started to wonder where our opponent was since it was near game time and they hadn't even stepped on the field. Soon after we learned that the team had management issues and would be not be playing that night. We ended up playing each other until our second opponent, California Cosmos, showed for their original game time. We played three thirty minute periods and ended the game in a loss 4 to 2. It's always tough to lose but the fact that we were still learning each other's names and it was only our third practice together we stilled played hard.
Over the past week we played random teams in order to practice our attack and defense as a team. As the week past ladies would continue to come in for the tryout. There were players coming in from Canada, Oregon, Virginia, New York, California and coming from teams like ECU and Miami. It's really great to meet all these ladies because you end up finding out you have mutual friends, find out you're from the same area, or have played against them.
As we were practicing during the week we learned that the LA Vikings, who were the hosting tournament, had officially disbanded and would not be a part of the tournament anymore. Once it was known that the Vikings weren't participating in the tournament, the Trinidad and Tobago dropped out of the tournament also. A few days past and we found out that the tournament was still on but would be moved up to November 23 and two new teams were entered into the field.
So Friday the tournament began! Our first game was against the Metro Stars. I started as right center back for the Malditas. So I did our first cheer for the Filipino National team, one player yells "Malditas!" and the team responds "Laban!" which means fight. At halftime the game is still tied 0-0, but by the end of the game we scored a goal and won 1-0.
Saturday we played against the California Cosmos who we scrimmaged against three days after training started. Once the Vikings disbanded the Cosmos managed to pick up two players, a forward on the Mexican national team and their goalkeeper. This was the most intense game during the tournament so far. I started as centerback and it was difficult to keep the Cosmos at bay. Our forwards managed to put two goals away by the end of half. Halfway through the second half the Cosmos put two goals home. It was a battle from both sides to keep the ball out of the net. We went up a goal a few minutes later but in the last 10 minutes the Cosmos were able to sink a shot outside the eighteen to tie it up once again. By the end of the game it was a battle that would end in a stalemate, 3-3.
Today, Sunday, we played a team called Leon. It was a somewhat difficult time in the beginning to get a goal but once we got one they started just coming. By the end of the game we beat Leon 8-1. A forward from the University of Miami, a Canada native, scored five of the eight goals.
Monday will be a day rest which will be much appreciated. Tuesday will be the finals for the tournament and we will be playing the California Cosmos so it will be a great match!