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Following the evening game, Rachel and Pam took time to relax and connect with their new and some past friends. Mario (our tour guide) and his cousin Sergio (tour guide for the team in 2010) met up with them in the hotel lounge and gave them the opportunity to laugh, mingle and recall some great memories.
After a great final night sleep. Pam and Rachel woke early to take advantage of their final morning in Costa Rica, taking a run through San Jose's "central park" followed by a rather refreshing (freezing) dip in the hotel pool. Everyone awoke to the reality that this was it. Our trip was celebrated in a wonderful presentation at breakfast and we were able to offer our sincere thanks to Costa Rica Soccer for organizing and managing an incredible program.
Following Breakfast we collected our things and met in he lobby to board the bus. Photographs, hugs and tears were spent saying our farewells to new and old friends. Then we set off for the airport.
The morning of our final match and last full day in Costa Rica started with some free time at the pool and beach before boarding the bus for the ride to San Jose. The drive was much shorter than all of us expected and while we were sad to say goodbye to the beach, we were ready to take on our final challenge against one of the top Division I (Costa Rica's top Club tier) teams.
Tonight we played on TURF!!!!!! From a coaching standpoint, I was excited. I know the mental gain from feeling comfortable and more confident with the surface would pay off in the match and did it ever!! While this was easily our strongest competition of the week, the girls showed a tremendous amount of grit, skill and confidence. They played a style of game that was refreshing, creative, aggressive and smart. With the opposition going up 1-0, the team fought back to even the match at 1-1 off a goal from Libby Strayer, her second on the trip. The girls looked to have the upper hand through much of the match, but in the end a breakaway far post shot sealed the deal and we suffered another 2-1 defeat. Of'course we never like losing but the improvement and positive strides our returning players made on this trip, and in this game, has truly given us a strong base and some encouraging signs for next season.
The girls held their heads high knowing they played one of the best games of each individuals career, and Katy Hartigan (a 2014 season Senior Captain) took home the game MVP honors!
Following the game we headed back to the hotel for dinner (they served MASHED POTATOS!!) followed by a quiet evening preparing for the travel ahead the next day.
PICTURES WILL BE ADDED SOON!
After lunch we headed into a beach town about 20 minutes away. The town was Jaco and we took the girls there to once again to experience the culture and shop for final souvenirs. The town was overflowing with life and excitement as people continued to celebrate the world cup victory. People were shouting, singing, playing vuvuzela's and driving through the streets in and on their vehicles!! It was quite a sight!
After Jaco, we spent the evening hanging at the pool before I treated the girls to some pizza. A much needed taste of home! Tomorrow we head back to San Jose for our final full day here and our final soccer match.
We started across a long bridge over a very muddy expanse of river. Far below lay well over 20 CROCODILES! These crocodiles have become a tourist attraction in recent years, and until recently people used to feed them from the bridge. The government has now made it illegal to feed them as there is an abundance of crocs in these waters now as a result.
After checking out the Crocodiles, we completed the last 40 minutes of our drive to the hotel. The hotel complex is about 180 acres and is considered a natural reserve. There are many people who own bungalows on the resort grounds and our hotel rooms are more like little huts in a small community. The beach is a 5-10 minutes walk from the rooms and the girls were able to really enjoy their time on the beach before dinner. Tomorrow is the zip line and more time on the beach!
The game may have started as a friendly match, but it quickly transformed into a slide-tackle-fest. At one point, it became clear that some girls (on both teams) were not having fun anymore. Emotions were running high at half time as we came in trailing 2-0. It was so intense that a cow decided to wander on the field from a nearby paddock to lighten the mood and reintroduce laughter to our world. Alas, the second half resumed and so did the intensity. At long last, a yellow card was finally issued to our opponents, and shortly after another as the ref looked to gain control of the match.The girls picked up their level of play, controlling most of the run of play throughout the remainder of the second half. Once we settled into our game, we were able to generate a great deal more chances and finally put one away late in the half. With a few extra minutes, I feel we likely would have found the net again, but time ran out on us and we settled for a 2-1 loss. It was a disappointing loss for the us at, but I am so proud that they never gave up. Pam and I are also excited to see improved play from a lot of our returners and the recovery of girls who were injured this past fall. We have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming season!
Tour de San Jose
Long Ride to a Water Slide
Hola! Welcome to tonight's blog brought to you by team members Arianna Lantz, Nicole Zambelli and Katy Hartigan. Arianna was a sophomore midfielder this past season and is studying communication sciences and disorders. She will be finishing her schooling at University park. Nicole Zambelli was a JR Captain defender and has been a main stay on our back line the past 2 seasons. She is studying Forensic Science and is currently finishing her schooling at University Park. Katy Hartigan was also a JR Captain for the team and a starting central midfielder. She will be one of only 2 seniors next season and is studying human development and family studies. She will finish her studies at Penn State Altoona.
Today was full of eye opening experiences as we traveled to a local school and worked with the students there and then participated in our first international soccer game.
Community Service Project
Not our Usual Turf
On the Flip Side of Latin America
During the Christmas break of my (Arianna Lantz) freshman year, 2012-2013, I was fortunate to take a mission trip to Tosagua Ecuador. Ecuador is located on the left side of South America in the Northern part of the continent. This was my first time out of the country, let a lone, a universally impoverished country. It was a life changing experience and one that I love to talk about. Tosagua is the poorest city in Ecuador. I had the chance to be a part of the Bible School team where we worked with 120 students for three nights. We held a vacation Bible school for them, and played many activities with them, including soccer! Coming to Costa Rica has been a very similar experience so far. Both of the countries have similar houses and economic diversity. The houses have tin roofs and gates surrounding their properties. As we traveled to more impoverished areas, it was a flashback of Tosagua, Ecuador. You could see how the houses were smaller, there was not much of their own land, and the gates were not automatic. In Tosagua the streets are dirt and they only have several roads. Here in Costa Rica, they have paved roads throughout the capital city of San Jose and even a highway system that you can travel faster to places, especially our hotel. Having the Ecuador experience is unique to this one, because its amazing to see how similar these two developing countries are. Sometimes we take a lot of things for granted, but I know this experience for the girls who are here for the first time, will be one that they keep close to their hearts forever. Here they have a saying, PURA VIDA, which means pure life, and we are attempting to embrace and live their culture throughout our time here.