Sonoma State women’s soccer team kicked their spring season into action during spring break by scrimmaging the U19 USA national team. Playing against some of the best of the best, the Seawolves were put to the test in some of the toughest competition they have faced in program history.
Both teams are training and picking up games to perform against different levels of play to ensure them for upcoming competition. This was the second training camp for the U19 USWNT as they prepare themselves for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup to be held in Papua, New Guinea. As the reigning CCAA champions, Sonoma State’s spring schedule is filled with D1 opponents as well to challenge themselves before their 2016 fall season.
“I look at the game as a measure of how far we have come in the past five seasons. It’s a real testament to the players and the program that a national team would consider us a worthy opponent,” said head coach Emiria Salzmann Dunn.
The game was divided into three quarters of 30 minutes to allow players to get minutes and teams to try different formations. Coaches were also able to test their players capabilities in unique situations.
The USWNT came out strong in the first quarter, scoring two of their three goals, but Sonoma grabbed a hold of the game as their defense got organized and attacking got stronger.
Although Sonoma State did not put one up on the board, there were multiple attempts and close calls.
Sophomore forward Courtney Shoda was able to score in a questionable call but the ball was determined stopped before the goal line instead of inching across the line.
Sonoma adapted to the national team’s speed and movement off the ball which made it easier for them to keep the ball on their opponent’s side of the half and making the USWNT work extra hard.
However, The USWNT was able to steal another goal from Sonoma State
“We had to make sure we were all getting behind the ball and keeping their speed in front to ensure they didn’t get past our defensive line on break-aways,” said sophomore captain Cecilia Sifuentes.
“We picked up their top players, became more aggressive, and more organized to play faster and build as a team going forward.”
The final whistle blew for much more than the end of the game, as respect was given from both sides of the field. The U19 USWNT presented Sonoma State with one of their very own flags, and all players of the national team signed an old women’s soccer jersey as a keepsake of what an memorable experience this was.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said senior midfielder Kristal Luna. “We played against the best of the best, but in order to be the best, you have to train with the best.”
The women’s soccer team will battle against a wide range of opponents over the spring in preparation of defending their CCAA title in the fall.
“I’m excited to see how this group of players stands up to the test, but also what the team reveals to us in terms of how we best play together,” said Emiria Salzmann Dunn on their challenging spring season ahead.