Stars and Stripes

13 July 2013

One of the great things about being in the top division at this World Cup, is that it means we get to play against the best teams in the world. As a team we have put in so much time and effort into training so that we can compete with the very best of opponents. So when it was our turn to play the reigning champions, USA, we could only approach the challenge with excitement and fun.

The 2013 FIL, Women's World Cup Lacrosse Tournament.  United States vs. Wales.

After a relaxed morning we prepared ourselves to take on the best in the world. We got off to a good start with Iona Dryden scoring an early goal shortly after the Yanks put one up on the scoreboard. It was at this point I wish I’d have taken a picture of the score 1-1, because after this the Americans put on a master class in lacrosse. Our defence played consistently well, but there is only so much one can do before a goal is scored. We never let up, however, and played tenaciously all game as we were pushed further than ever before to compete on the field.

We ended as we started with one of Ros Lloyd Rout’s signature cross-feed goals, assisted by Lucy Wray Mercy to leave the final score at 19-2. It was a game to remember and we showed just how much we enjoyed it with a quick team jig shortly after the game ended.

The 2013 FIL, Women's World Cup Lacrosse Tournament.  United States vs. Wales.

The antics of the day were far from over, however; returning back to our residences was hardly straight forward, as Raj somehow managed to reverse into the back of Molly’s van (#rubbishdriver).  After more questionable food, we began our preparations for the Canada game….

The 2013 FIL, Women's World Cup Lacrosse Tournament.  United States vs. Wales.

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Familiar Foes

12 July 2013

Friday saw our match-up with rivals England. After narrowly losing to them 9-8 at Home Internationals over Easter, we went into the game confident that it could go our way.

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We spent the morning filming a number of scenes for our new music video (watch this space), getting treatment, and snacking on our own food due to the lack of edible resources down at breakfast.

It is fair to say the game got off to a slow start as England netted 4 goals before we even had possession of the ball. It was then a matter of playing catch-up, which is never an ideal situation.  We had some good runs, and great individual goals, but ultimately it was not enough to emulate our performance back in April and the game finished at 9-4 to the English.

The 2013 FIL, Women's World Cup Lacrosse Tournament game between England and Wales (Photo by Amy Deroche / via GDP)

Although we are of course disappointed with the outcome, there is a high likelihood we will meet them again in the quarter finals where we will be raring and ready for a rematch that promises to be one to remember.

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Let the Games Begin!

11 July 2013

GAME DAY.

Thursday was the first official day of play and we had drawn the Aussies in our first match. The Australian team is the reigning silver medallists and current world #2; we knew we were up for an extremely tough match.

After a hearty breakfast, treatment and meetings we walked out of the hotel in game mode, helped by our extremely cool new headphones courtesy of SOLRepublic. The team talk and warm-up are a bit of a blur as everyone had a serious case of first match excitement.

It is fair to say we showed up from the start, demonstrating our Welsh Pride to the world with our well-practiced accapella tones.  The opening whistle blew and we defended well from the start, keeping the Aussies’ lethal attack at bay and holding the game scoreless for the first 7 minutes.  Our defence made our first statement, not allowing them any easy goals and denying Australia’s  favoured crease-roll play.  After some time and some tough saves from keeper Erin Walters, Australia finally broke through with a 4-goal run.  At 4-0 down Sophy Coombes-Roberts fed Welsh veteran (she’ll kill us for writing that) Ros Lloyd-Rout for scored our first goal, and the teams went into halftime at a score of 6-1.

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Keeper Erin Walters clears the ball after stifling Australia’s Marlee Paton on the first shot of the game

Despite flashes of brilliance in the first half, we knew that as a team we could produce a stronger second half. Ros hammered in 2 more goals and Iona Dryden also showed off her signature finesse which resulted in a great point-blank goal.  All 3 goals were assisted, with Ellie Walsh and Laura Warren connecting the dots.  The Aussies stepped up, however, showing why they are perennial powerhouses, and scored 3 well-spaced goals before sneaking in a further 2 goals in the closing minute of the match to leave the final score at 11-4.

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Ros Lloyd Rout, Sophy Coombes-Roberts, and Ellie Walshe celebrate a second-half Wales goal

We are as a team positive about our performance, knowing we still have more to give but also recognising that we hardly made it easy for a very tough side! Our Welsh tenacity both frustrated the Aussies and made it clear to the lacrosse world that we would not be handled easily.  Both our opposition and the referees commented on how good our team looked, which only gives us more confidence for the rest of the tournament.

After the game, it was the usual routine of shake and ice bath, the latter ritual performed this time to a chorus of shouting (can’t really call it singing…) a variety of songs (team playlist includes: Baby Got Back, A Whole New World, and baby Louis’ Happy Hungry Bear ditty….).  If you are a regular follower of the blog, by now you might have noticed that we often comment on the food here.  Usually, it is delicious—last night’s meal, however, being the exception. MEATLOAF?! What even is that? Meatloaf, burger or pizza, hardly the food of athletes – but we will power through… #optimism.

Moving onwards and upwards, we are looking ahead to the big game tomorrow against local rivals England.

Many thanks to James Hawkins for the photos

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Let the Games Begin!

10 July 2013

Many apologies for the delay in blogging—there has been so much going on here that it has been hard to find time to let you all know what we have been up to.  That said, here we go with an update on the official start to the 2013 Women’s Lacrosse World Cup!

Wednesday was the official start of the tournament, which was marked by a great opening ceremony. Whilst we all lined up ready to go out, we got chatting to the other teams and spent a while making videos with players from around the world before walking out into the stadium as Team Wales, smiling and cheering for the cameras.

melflag

The ceremony began with a Native American dance performed by the Haudenoshaunee team, accompanied by singing and drumming. It was a moving reminder of the sport’s origin and history. After further dances and parading, the Mayor of Oshawa gave his address, followed by the FIL president and World Cup organisers.  The coaches’, players’, and referees’ oaths then declared the tournament was officially open.

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Before rushing back for supper we made sure to get little Louis in some official photographs and jumped in the cars straight back to the canteen. For once nobody was on edge about Raj’s speeding, as we made it back before the rest of the teams. 10 minutes later, however, the cue for food was out of the door and any chances of second helpings went out the window…. (#foodnightmare).

After a team meeting, motivation videos, and voice clips we headed off for an early night ready to face the Aussies in the morning.

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Be Impressive

9 July 2013

Tuesday started with our first lie-in – an 8:30AM start!  It is all feeling very real now, with all of the teams having now arrived at our host venue.  It is quite the scene, players chatting in the egg queue, toasting bagels and picking out fruit with soon-to-be opponents.  One really does have to love the air of competitive friendliness at mealtime!

We spent the morning relaxing and getting ready for our practice game against Haudenoshaunee. The Iroquois Nation were the founders of lacrosse as it was used as warrior training and a method to prevent argumentative battles, so it is always exciting and an absolute honour to play against a team with so much history!

Teamphoto

Before the game a unusually huge amount of hair straightening, plaiting and game makeovers took place, and it wasn’t just because we wanted to look great for the match.  Rather, it was time for our Official World Cup photo-shoot.  After we got the straight-faced team photos over with, we obviously spend the next 10 minutes persuading the camera men to take as many more pictures as possible, in every pose we could think of.  Even team mascot Louis made an appearance (#sonofaworldallstar)!

shootingteam

After some discrepancy over which pitch we were playing on, we made our way over to the grass  and got in a decent warm up. It is fair to say the pace of the game was relatively slower due to the grassy meadow of a pitch sapping our speed, but we adapted and physicality and communication proved key.  Overall, we finished the 40-minute practice match with a convincing victory of 7-2.

The Opening Ceremony is this evening—watch it live online for free.  Tomorrow the tournament starts… bring on the group games!

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The Pace Picks Up

8 July 2013

Things started to get serious on Monday morning with an early start and a scrimmage against the home nation Canada. It was a great opportunity to play 30 minutes against the reigning bronze medalists and a chance to show how far Welsh Lacrosse has come in 4 years.  The game ended with a final score of 2-2, which is sure to be a conversation starter with the rest of the teams…

We rocked up back at the hotel in high spirits, and enjoyed a bit of downtime.  Team building came in all forms: we chilled in our rooms, watched various movies and TV shows, plaited hair, got massages, and hunted down all the wifi we could find. We then queued the standard 15 minutes for our lunchtime wraps and stocked up on the insanely good chocolate milk provided in the canteen.

preoshawa
New uniforms ready to go

Our day was far from over, however, with another game scheduled against the Oshawa Blue Knights– the top club team in Canada. It was our first time wearing our ridiculously cool new kit, and we strolled onto the pitch looking smart and ready to strike! Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones doing the striking as the game was suspended due to lightening after only 7 minutes (#confusingcanadianweather).  Game play resumed on the full indoor field turf pitch, and, despite the unfamiliar surroundings, we played some great lacrosse, beating the U19 team 13-4 in 40 minutes which we backed up with a 5-1 win against their senior team in another 20 minute period.

The Blue Knights kindly treated us to a great tailgate, which was followed by ice baths, lukewarm showers, a late night meeting (#zzzz), and bed!

icebathstars
Never too cold for shooting stars

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Practices and Pools…

7 July 2013

Sunday was a chilled day, giving us more chance to get used to the Canadian heat… apart from that small but familiar problem of rain. It conspires that it was actually hotter in the UK than out here…. (#typical)

The rain was no reflection of our mood, however, and we went out for a short but sweet practice and returned home to the arrival of Iona and Storm.  Iona did encounter a small problem accessing her room key due to the fact there was weirdly no room listed under Sophy and Iona – only Poco and Llona.  New teammates or…?

emma in pool
Emma shows she is not a one-trick pony

Each team is assigned a volunteer liaison, and ours turned out to be a lovely woman called Judy, who even invited us round her home for a pool party. Result: that evening all 24 of us turned up at Judy’s home, in the rain, and spent 2 hours splashing around in her pool. The diving board provided much entertainment, along with a medley of competitive swimming relays.

We were then treated to an amazing BBQ whilst Raj schooled Iona with a game of spoons (video evidence to come). To send us on our way Judy even gave us a personalised cake (with insanely good icing) to welcome us to Canada. It is amazing how hospitable the people are here, and they are just making our trip even more incredible.

lfcake

—–

So it begins…

6 July 2013

with Germany
Post-game with Germany

After an epic four-year build up we are finally here in Canada!

We arrived on Friday evening after a relatively uneventful flight, but our journey to the ‘residences’ in an big yellow school bus was marred by some slight navigational problems.  After arriving at The University of Ontario Institute of Technology, it was blatantly clear our bus driver had no idea where to go next as he bugged a number of pedestrians with the mumbled query of ‘where are the residences?’  Accent issues made the word ‘residence’ sound like ‘restaurant’ or ‘restrooms’, so we drove around campus lost for a good 20 minutes (#lostintranslation). The highlight of the bus ride was undoubtedly the 11-point turn made on a random roundabout, which I reckon we were lucky to survive….

IMG_20130706_180330
Residences or the gym?

Finally, at the accommodation Mex (Mel and Bex, for the uninitiated) were quick to rearrange their room whilst Willie decorated the corridor with what resembles jubilee bunting (not really sure why?).  We checked out the facilities, took over the common room (#welshdomination), and jumped into bed in an attempt to beat the jet lag.

Saturday morning we woke up to darkness, and no, it wasn’t the jet lag, but rather because the power was down for the entire day. We spent the morning getting ready in the dark for our practice match against the Germans, but it is fair to say nothing could have prepared us for the insane Canadian heat. It was baking!  The first half of the match was spent acclimatising (and sweating), but we killed it in the second half, showing what our team can really do.  Final score: 17-3 to Wales.

The match was followed by ice baths and showers which didn’t pass without a few laughs and tears, which mostly came from Bex as she spent her whole 30 seconds in the ice hyperventilating whilst we all laughed at her! After warm showers, lunch, and a cheeky supermarket shop we returned to the hotel – still in darkness, Erin’s mood decreased considerably due to the lack of internet access which only meant it would take longer for her to upload her selfies…

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Erin finally managed it, with a little help from her friends.. #selfiestar

Evening activities included a trip to the official World Cup pitch venue to scout ‘the condition of the pitches’ followed by a barbeque dinner.  The day was topped off by an inspirational video courtesy of Nigel Wray as we all collected our brand new playing kit.

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Did we mention Raj got us Wales Foakleys?

Sunday is set to be a chilled day – we will update you shortly.  In the mean time: COME ON MURRAY!!!!!!

All blog entries composed by the stupendous Sophie Coombes-Roberts and the inspirational Iona Dryden

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