March 16, 2012
BARCELONA, Spain - Sophomore goalkeeper Elizabeth Hoerner is writing a blog chronicling the Navy women's soccer team's Spring Break trip to Spain. Below is Hoerner's recap of the first five days in the country, which included watching a Spanish Club game, defeating a Spanish women's club team in an exhibition match and plenty of sightseeing.
In the coming days NavySports.com will post part two of Hoerner's blog, which will cover the final four days of the team's trip.
NAVY WOMENS SOCCER: EURO TOUR 2012
Friday-Saturday, March 9-10 | Introduction
Well folks, I am proud to declare the "Dark Ages" are officially over, which can only mean one thing in the mind of any Navy Women's Soccer player... ADIOS ANNAPOLIS and BUENOS DIAS BARCELONA!
After over a year of planning, four weeks of morning workouts, three weeks of outdoor practice, and of course, a stressful set of six week exams, the long awaited departure has finally arrived. We are extremely excited for what the next nine days of adventure have in store for us, as well as for the opportunity to play our favorite game in another part of the world. Before we dive into the trip's events, we want to send out a special shout-out to all of the parents, families, NWS fans alumni, and Naval Academy staff that have supported our trip and our team's efforts! THANK YOU! We are very excited that we can share some of our unique experiences, game summaries and perhaps a few funny stories here and there with you all as you read our trip's blog.
As a team, we expect the next week to be full with breathtaking views, new foods, lots of translating help from our Spanish speaking experts - Emily Wilkin, K.D. Woolard, Stephanie Strine, Alexes Lopez-Shaw, Paloma Perez, and Alexandro Trujillo - tons of shopping, and several notable "Sam Lee" quotes, but one thing is for sure ... NWS is prepared, packed and pumped for a week that we will never forget.
From Bancroft to Barcelona
After an early start to our academic day, we met for one last training session at Glenn Warner consisting of conditioning and dynamic stretching before it was time to hit the road. We boarded our USNA bus, passports and "Pillow Pets" in hand, and off we went. With plenty of time to spare, we made it through security with no issues and enjoyed walking around the Dulles International terminal while making our last phone calls home. In true midshipmen tradition, the eight-hour flight consisted of sleeping and more sleeping. We had a quick layover in London and then landed in Barcelona around lunchtime. We met our tour trip guide, Silvia, and headed for a quick stroll around the "City Centre" for our first real taste of the city. We rolled into our hotel around 1700, reunited with the parents that will be joining our NWS family for the week and had time to get settled in our hotel before dinner. As a group, we finished off the evening with an authentic meal of jamon, hecho, and papas tapas, followed by seafood paella at a Spanish Restaurant called Restaurante Pasatapas in the Barcelona Olympic Port District. We enjoyed our first sneak peek at the city today and are excited to begin exploring tomorrow after we catch up on our much-needed sleep.
Sunday, March 11 | Futbol!
Our day began with a quick hotel breakfast and an early training session at a nearby field. Then we returned to the hotel, showered plebe summer style, and left right away for the El Prat Stadium, where we met up with the Navy men's soccer team for a pro game. For many of us this was our first professional soccer game, and what an experience it turned out to be! The game featured Espanyol vs. Rayo Vallecano, two quality Spanish teams. The match ended with Espanyol getting the 5-1 victory, which for us meant several awesome goals scored 25 yards away from our fantastic seats, and lots of cheering. The chanting and singing at the game was unlike any Super Bowl, or championship back in the States. We joined right in with the fans, waving scarves and yelling "GOALLLLL...G-G-GOO-GOALLLLL" when Espanyol scored on our end of the field, while also attempting to follow the traditional chants.
Without a doubt, at least by the end of our match, I think we all considered ourselves loyal Espanyol fans and fit right in with the crowd!
The team in front of la Sagrada Famalia in Barcelona
After the game we headed back to the city for a guided tour, starting with la Sagrada Família, a Catholic church, which has been under construction since 1882, and is still being completed. In addition, we got a great view of Antoni Gaudí's architectural masterpiece, Casa Batilló during our bus tour of the city. Throughout the tour, we had some great views over the entire city, and learned about the different historical and cultural traditions of Barcelona. We made a quick stop by the 1992 Olympic Soccer Stadium, and then headed back to the central part of the city. We ended the tour with a visit to the Barcelona Cathedral and walked around the attached Gothic cloister where we said hello to the 13 white geese inside. After a long day, lots of stories and fun facts to remember, we returned back to the hotel for dinner.
Monday, March 12 | Game Day
Today we enjoyed sleeping in and a late breakfast at our hotel. Then we headed to the hill of El Carmel where the Park Güell is located. The park was built around 1900 by the Catalan Antoni Gaudí, the same architect we learned about yesterday. We enjoyed our leisurely stroll around the park in the beautiful weather, checked out some of Gaudí's unique designs, and took pictures by the famous mosaic wall on the main terrace that overlooks the district. Our bus dropped our team in the City Centre for some shopping and lunch. We returned to the hotel for a pre-game SIESTA, our new team term for a pre-game nap, and departed for our first friendly game against RCD Espanyol at 1830.
We played on an artificial turf field under the lights, in a neighborhood outside of the main city about twenty minutes from our hotel. We ended the first half with a 2-0 lead after Paloma Perez was taken down on a breakaway inside the eighteen-yard box. Jade Seabrook finished the PK with a driven shot past the outreached Espanyol goalkeeper. Lily Kraemer earned the second goal right inside the six-yard box, finishing a bouncing ball through the goalkeeper's legs. We came out strong once again in the second half, putting two more goals into the back of the net from Morgan Dankanich and Caprice Kelty. Overall, playing our first game here was an awesome experience and we finished our opportunities well. Joanna Lohman and Lianne Sanderson, members of the Espanyol starting eleven, both played in the WPS and have international experience, challenged us all over the field. One of our own NWS players, K.D. Woolard, is friends with Joanna who previously stayed with K.D's family when they hosted Joanna during her training period in California. After the game we were able to talk to some of the players on the Spanish team and we celebrated our first victory of the trip as a team with a dinner at the hotel!
Tuesday, March 13 | NWS Takes the Hill!
This morning we woke up and hit the road right away on our journey to explore the Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat about an hour away. However, most of that hour was spent riding up switch-back roads on the mountain on our tour bus. For those of us scared of heights, the switch-backs were only an indication of what was around the corner for the rest of the morning! Once we arrived near the top we hopped on a cable railway, descended down a pretty steep slope, and began our hike that looked out over the entire countryside. WOW... What a view! We made our way to the Santa Cova Chapel before turning around. Then we hopped back into the cable car to zip back up to the Basilica where some of us touched the Virgin of Montserrat and listened to an excellent performance by the famous boys choir, L'Escolania, of the Benedictine abbey. We grabbed a bite to eat in the café on the mountain, and drove back to Barcelona for some free time in the city checking out some shops, markets, and the City Centre one last time. We had a tapas and pizza dinner as a group downtown and we are excited to head to our next destination, Madrid, in a few hours. From the translation of the word, "Montserrat", or "jagged mountain," we definitely experienced a true outdoor Spanish adventure today!
Wednesday, March 14 | Next Stop: Madrid
Today was a travel day for the most part. We woke up, had breakfast at the hotel and loaded the luggage into the bus for the first leg of our trip. After four hours on the bus through the beautiful countryside we stopped in Zaragoza for two hours to grab a bite to eat, some delicious gelato, and wander around the fifth-largest city in Spain. Then we had about four more hours to go until we reached Madrid. On the bus we watched the "Dare to Dream" documentary about the journey of the US National team in the 90's then finished off the ride with a classic, "Top Gun" in honor of our future Navy Pilots, Amanda and Alex. We checked into the hotel and had dinner in the hotel restaurant before some of our group left for the Real Madrid vs. Moscow game ... can't wait to hear about it tomorrow! Although we were sad to leave Barcelona, we are excited to start exploring Madrid tomorrow, and also excited for our second match of the trip tomorrow!
-- Elizabeth Hoerner