The day started as usual with the chef from each room preparing breakfast.  This was accompanied by the familiar irritating sound of the incredibly sensitive smoke alarms going off repeatedly.  After breakfast was done, we met as a team for a jog and stretch. That funny warm up was followed by a debrief of yesterdays game.  Directly after the meeting we hopped into our vans and departed for a light practice.   We ran a counterattacking drill and short corners.  The team left the field in good spirits, prepared for the good test tonight.

Next came lunch and down time where some players went to the mall, others slept and some got some treatment from our trainer, Donnie.  We had another meeting at 3 followed by dinner, which was again cooked by each room’s designated chef.  One final team meeting at 5:45, and we were off to the field for a great game. In the van’s there was a strong sense of focus and determination.  It’s always exciting to play at night under the lights, especially when you are representing USA in another country.

North Harbour came out strong and found an early goal off of a mistake.  Then we calmed down and found our rhythm.  They scored another goal towards the middle of the 1st half, but we quickly answered with one of our own by none other than JaJa Kentwell.  North Harbour finished their third goal right before the end of the half and we found ourselves down by two after 35 minutes.

USA came out more confident in the second half and earned a short corner, where my co-writer, Aki Käppeler, pinned a drag flick into the bottom right corner of the cage.  Suddenly we were only down by one goal and there was a lot of game left.  North Harbour came right back and scored a goal to keep the margin at 2.  The rest of the game was filled with very even play.  North Harbour scored one final goal with a few minutes left to play and the game ended in a 5 – 2 loss for USA. Considering that we won the penalty shootout after the match 5 – 3 the game actually ended with a 8 -7 loss, showing just how close we were…

During our cooldown the team voted Mo Ghandi man of the match.  This was a terrific turn around for Mo considering the day he had had .

Despite the loss, the effort and performance of the team was incredibly encouraging.   The bar has been raised again and we will continue to improve as a team as playing opponents of this calibre is truly helping our game.

Alex Grassi #10

Aki Käppeler #11

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