Cal women’s soccer players ready for the 2022 season with international competition
After playing back-to-back seasons in Spring 2021 and Fall 2021, the women’s soccer team is finally back in an off season this year.
“Honestly, I can’t even tell the two seasons apart,” goalkeeper Cal Angelina Anderson He said. “Those two seasons blended into one. It was hard to achieve the quick turnaround that no team previously had to go through. It was my first spring season ever, I had it here. Because of COVID, we came home a few weeks into the spring season.” As a new student due to the pandemic.”
After being brought home in the spring of 2020 and not getting training with the team for nearly year, and Then the Bears played back-to-back competitive seasons, missing out on valuable development time. This spring was different. The Bears had a full spring of training and a number of players took the time by playing for their national teams.
“The international game is played with a high level of football intelligence, athleticism and technical speed, which can only help the player grow,” coach Cal said Neil McGuire He said. “We always see growth in how the player views the game, and how effective it is within it. There is also maturity that comes along with your representation.national team Which often inspires players to want to achieve more. We’ve seen it in players who have recent international experience.”
fifth year Sydney Collins She represented the United States at the under-23 level, while she was a sophomore Ayo ok and demanded tigan way He wore red, white and blue for the U-20 team. Alexis Wright And the Noel Bond Vlassa They have been called up to play for the Jamaica national under-20 team at the CONCACAF Championship.
Collins tested herself against the Pros when she joined the US Under-23 team as they competed against the NWSL teams in the pre-season tournament in her hometown of Portland. Collins hasn’t played for the United States at any level since she was 16. However, her improvements at Cal were documented by the coaching staff and sent to the national team coaches, leading to an invitation to camp this spring.
“I felt like I played at that level in Cal who prepared me,” Collins said. “So, I went to camp feeling more confident than when I was there previously. There is definitely an adjustment period. The game was a lot faster, and I had to make decisions a lot faster. I think everything is high; technical skills, athleticism, speed of play and tactical game It was really cool pushing myself.”
During camp, I impressed enough to start right-back in all three games. She competed against some of the world’s best players, scoring world leading scorer Kristen Sinclair in a single match against the Portland Thorns.
“I think the whole experience has really benefited me, it has allowed me to be with players who are better than me in so many areas,” Collins said. “This summer I was really able to focus on some of the areas that I need to improve that I discovered through that experience. I was also able to be with some of the best college players at the moment and take advice from them and talk about how they lead their teams and how we can implement that in Cal as well” .
For the rest of the international bears, the U-20 World Cup was the focus. Wright tried and made the Jamaican team, playing in two matches in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. Bond-Flasza was unable to attend test camp, but received a belated team call and joined the Jamaican team in the Dominican Republic for the championship. While Jamaica did not progress, the duo learned some valuable lessons.
“It was a dirtier game, a much fiercer game than club or college,” Wright said. “It was a huge change; I was a little shocked, at first, but playing for Jamaica made me more stubborn and aggressive to get the ball than before. I wasn’t a very compact, persistent and meddling player, but since then I feel like I’m playing more hard, pushing to get the ball back” .
On the other side of the arc in the same tournament, okay It was a prime location for Team USA. She played in six matches as the USA marched towards the title, scoring 49 goals without conceding any goal.
“I would say it’s like college,” Aoki said. “Canada, Mexico and even Puerto Rico had some players who played in the US for the D1 schools. After this experience, I feel ready, I feel ready for the season. Playing a lot of these games makes me more excited to come back and do what we have to do this season.”
Aoki also played for the United States in the Women’s Black Cup where the Americans won another title, defeating France and Mexico and drawing with the Netherlands.
The US hosted several camps last year, so it was surprising that Wee and Oak weren’t in the same camp together. Wai was called up multiple times, including two friendlies against Costa Rica in May where she kept two clean sheets in her appearance against Las Tecas.
“Internationally, the competition is very different from the club,” Wai said. “Everyone’s maturity and mentality when they play on and off the field is different compared to a regular club season. It is a higher level. Every time I am in camp I always learn something new. The coaching staff is always supportive, they let me know what I need to work on to improve my career in Football. This helps me a lot, and it also prepared me for university because of the different levels and styles of playing.”
Wai, a new incoming student, never played a game with the bears. Therefore, it will be the first time she will play for Oak in the U-20 World Cup, as the two have been selected in Team USA for the upcoming tournament. The tournament will take place August 10-28, which means the duo will likely miss the first three games of the Bears season while on international duty.
However, the experience of playing at an international level provides such an opportunity for growth, not only for the individuals who have gained that experience, but for their teammates who will benefit from their newly acquired experience.
“When players aspire to more, whether it is to play on nnational teamMcGuire said: “Or playing professionally, there is a collective drive to improve. Athletes will train with greater intentions. Our program has a lot of highly motivated players who want to be at their best and help our team achieve great things. Those who have experience in the national team They help move this process around and the group as a whole benefits from it.”
After two difficult seasons without much time to develop, these five players have gained invaluable experience playing different styles, learning from their teammates and coaches and working to improve their profession. Now, they’re ready to bring that experience back to Berkeley.
“Every little detail has to be in place, and every training has to be taken seriously at that level,” Collins said. “I will bring that mentality back to Cale, along with the other players who have also been called up in their national teams. It will only help raise the level of our squad.”