U.S. Women's National Team's Visit, From a Player's View
Princeton soccer rising sophomore Lindsey Heigh recaps the May visit from the U.S. Women's National Team, in her own words:
From May 11-25th, the US Women's National Soccer Team held a 2-week training camp at our very own Roberts Stadium. The National Team was preparing for an international friendly match on May 27th against China at PPL Park in Chester, PA (the US ended up winning the match 4-1). In addition, this intense training camp was the last time the 28 camp players could make an impression on US head coach Pia Sundhage and her coaching staff. The 18-member Olympic roster was named at the culmination of the camp. The importance of the training camp for the National Team players and coaching staff created an intense, highly competitive atmosphere that was exciting for all who watched.
One of the most impressive takeaways for the Princeton players who observed the US team was the intensity with which the camp was conducted. The players were incredibly focused while they were training on the field, both before and after practice. Although all the players at Princeton are held to high standards, the intensity with which the National Team trained was a whole level above the college atmosphere. At the same time, however, it was fun to see the National Team doing several of the drills the Princeton team runs during our own practices. As we head into our summer training, it was very motivating to see the highest levels of technique, tactics, fitness, and focus we can aspire to as we work to achieve our own goals and vie for an Ivy League Championship this fall.
The US Men's National Team trained at Roberts Stadium two years ago before they left for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and this year the women's team elected to visit Princeton. The relatively private location, phenomenal facilities, and tireless staff of Princeton athletics seem to be attractive qualities for Princeton as a National Team training location. The US National Team players and staff raved about the world-class facilities at Princeton, and the Princeton soccer family could not have been prouder of our phenomenal fields, locker rooms, and stadium. In a special video feature on www.goprincetontigers.com , US starting midfielder Carli Lloyd called the facility "world-class" and an "amazing surface" that can elevate the national team players to "the next level." Head coach Pia Sundhage was incredibly pleased with the facilities for the camp and was very impressed with the quality of the side-by-side turf and grass fields. Of course, for this we must thank the facilities staff, the leader of the Princeton presence at the US camp, athletic trainer Russ Steves, as well as head coach Julie Shackford and assistants Esmeralda Negron '05, Ron Celestin, and Julio Vacacela for helping the Princeton soccer program and facilities be so fantastic.
For the Princeton soccer players, coaches, staff, and friends, the camp was a unique opportunity to see the daily operations of one of the best women's soccer teams in the world. The US team stayed at a hotel just a few minutes off campus and held training sessions at Roberts Stadium often twice a day in addition to lifting weights at a state-of-the-art gym near their hotel.
Princeton players and staff worked together with the National Team staff and assisted as much as needed at the camp. The entire Princeton Women's Soccer team, along with a few members from the Men's Soccer and Men's Basketball teams worked at the practices in shifts. We worked as security detail to keep most of the practices private and let only a few allowed guests in the stadium, and moved the National Team vehicles to various parking lots. At each of three public training sessions, we directed traffic, showed fans toward the stadium, and kept fans at bay after the practices. Hundreds of people showed up to watch their favorite national team players- some favorites included Abby Wambach, Heather O'Reilly, Alex Morgan, and Hope Solo. It was nostalgic for the Princeton players (who were all once young soccer fans) to see the local youth teams filtering into Roberts Stadium to see the open training sessions.
While on breaks from working at the practices, the Princeton players were able to watch training at field level and observe all the intricacies of the camp. While escorting the players to and from the parking lots, the Princeton players were able to engage in a bit of conversation with the National Team. We were also able to talk with the dedicated US National Team staff and had a great time chatting with press officer Aaron Heifetz. On the last day of the camp, the Princeton players and staff even got a few shoutouts on Twitter from several players like Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd as well as the US Women's National Team account.
One special highlight of the training camp was a 90-minute closed-door match against China. The closed-door match was a preview of the same game that took place at the end of the camp in front of 18,573 fans at a sold-out PPL Park. It was truly a special opportunity to be part of just a handful of Princeton players, staff, and friends to view the high-level match in such an intimate environment. It was even more special to see the game on our very own Myslik Field and being able to watch at field level just steps away from the pitch.
Overall, it was a fantastic opportunity to watch the US team train almost every day (during our breaks from Reading Period and studying and taking finals, of course!) and hear that the players enjoyed the Princeton athletic facilities as well as the surrounding area (we heard they walked around campus and visited many places on Nassau Street including Twist, Blue Point Grill, Thomas Sweets, and Naked Pizza!). The US camp at Princeton had the quality of a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but we hope it doesn't turn out that way and that the US team returns soon to train again at Princeton!
Learn more about the Women's National Team's experience practicing at Princeton on GoPrincetonTigers.com.