After three games in four days, we had some tired-looking bodies at our 8 a.m. breakfast. An early departure for our day trip and the guys were soon awake as we arrived at Ciutat Esportiva de Sant Adria, the practice facility of RCD Espanyol and the home stadium of the Espanyol B team. While there we got to see all the facilities that a La Liga team has to offer and we had a close-up view of the B team morning practice.
The first noticeable difference was the giant sprinklers that pumped water onto the artificial turf field before practice to lean and wet the surface for the morning session. After the players had their morning stretch, the practice began with a warm-up including some juggling ball work and plyometric/footwork exercises. The group then moved into some tight possession work and our guys were definitely in awe of the obvious quality and speed of play on show. They then finished with a crossing and finishing exercise that had a couple unbelievable goals. Coach Derek paid extra attention to the goalkeepers session and I think our goalkeepers got an idea of what their practices will look like next week!
From there it was back on the bus and a short trip across the city back to Camp Nou. Here we grabbed lunch and then began our tour of the famous 98,000+ seat stadium and museum. The museum was a constant reminder of the pure quality and success that FC Barcelona have enjoyed over the years and the final stop on the tour was a view of the field and pitch-side access, which the guys took advantage of with numerous selfies! From there it was the club shop, with some (Coach Derek and Curry) taking longer than others!
We were then back on the bus and into downtown Barcelona for some more time to explore all the city has to offer. Starting off at the top of Las Ramblas, groups went off in different directions and had a few hours to enjoy some more tapas, indulge in their favorite gelato, or simply walk around and immerse themselves in the culture of the city. It was then back on the bus to the hotel, where we enjoyed another great team dinner and some well-deserved free time for the players.
Tomorrow is our last full day in Barcelona and we will enjoy some team bonding games/exercises in the morning, followed by the RCD Espanyol vs. Atletico Madrid game. Check back tomorrow for an update!
Today's blog was (beautifully) written by aspiring journalist and freshman forward Christian Lawal.
It was a bright and early start to our fifth day in Spain. At 9 a.m. prompt, the team and coaching staff climbed aboard the team bus and made our way toward Barcelona to enjoy our second experience of the Catalan city.
Upon our arrival, there could only be one attraction that caught our eyes - La Sagrada Familia. We were introduced to Barca native Felipe, who shared with us a wealth of knowledge regarding the iconic and supremely artistic church, which is yet to be completed despite construction beginning in 1882!
Around midday we headed toward our destination for lunch, passing the coast along the way, allowing us to have a brief glimpse of the Barcelona beach. At 12:30 or so we arrived at our restaurant for lunch; it had an edge and authentic Spanish vibe, not to mention some great food enjoyed by all.
Lunch eaten, we jumped on the bus and headed toward our third and final game of the trip against Gimnastic de Tarragona. It was a hut sunny day in Tarragona and, as anticipated by all, it was a tough game.
We went close only seconds into the match with Garrett Heine shooting fractionally wide. Smelling blood, we took the lead just a few minutes later, with yours truly heading the ball into the net accurately from close range. However, the lead was then cut short just before halftime. We showed excellent spirit and work rate throughout the game, although a combination of tired legs and opposition class led to us conceding two late goals, ending the game at 3-1.
Despite the loss, spirits among the group remained high, as the performance we displayed certainly merited more.
Excluding Eddie Painter - who unfortunately took a ball to the face during the game - we left Tarragona in one piece. With our fifth day concluded, we headed back to Santa Susana to finally put our feet up and relax after a tough few days.
With all of our games behind us, tomorrow we will get to experience Espanyol first team training and back to Camp Nou for a stadium tour!
Today's blog post was written by junior forward Jonny Forrest.
The day started in the usual fashion with a buffet-style breakfast at 8 a.m. With a game later on in the day, the morning practice was just a light session to get the legs rejuvenated after a busy few days. A short run in the sunshine along the Santa Susana beach got the legs moving again, but also allowed plenty of time i the late morning for relaxation. Lunch was scheduled for 1 p.m. and again was a lovely all-you-can-eat meal provided by the hotel.
At 2 p.m. we set off on a short trip to a little city north of where we are staying called Girona. Here we were given free time to explore what the city had to offer, which turned out to be plenty. Girona is a historical place, with a large cathedral and many old runs, which opened our eyes to a lot of culture. After a fair amount of walking around the city, it was time for a pre-game meal and the (supposedly) short trip to where we were playing against FC Girona's U23 team.
The drive to the game turned out to be pretty eventful. We arrived at the field where we thought the game was to be played, only to learn that it had been changed to FC Salt's stadium at a different location. After a few wrong turns and quite a few trips around the same couple of roundabouts, we arrived at the correct field with only a short time to prepare for the upcoming game. It was a tough game played with a lot of intensity by both teams, but unfortunately we came out on the wrong side of a few dubious refereeing decisions and ultimately a 3-1 score line. There were a lot of positives in the performance though, one notable being the great finish by Phil McQuitty for our only goal.
Tomorrow we will head back into Barcelona for some more sightseeing in the city and then we play our third and final game in the afternoon. Looking forward to another great day!
Quote from Coach Jones:
"I thought Girona were a very good team and they caused us problems early on and pushed us with three early goals. We showed great character to come back and stay committed and disciplined and it showed in our performance in the latter stages of the first half and a much-improved second half. Despite the result, we played some great soccer and as a group there were many positives we can take away from it."
We began the day with our usual 8 a.m. breakfast followed by a light practice/cool down at 9 a.m. The practice session got a little more competitive than usual with the coaching staff (and alumni/tour host) entering a team into the 8v8 tournament! With some beautiful play, a serious lack of stamina and some dubious referring decisions, I believe the coaches won!
After the session we headed straight for the beach where we met a representative from the Santa Susana Town Hall to complete our community service project. The team was given trash bags and gloves and we all worked together to clear a part of the beach of all trash and weeds. The boys worked hard and as we finished, Coach Jones gave the team the directions for the rest of the day, along with a challenge of "last man into the ocean," which led to a mass sprint to the water! After our obligatory team photo in the Mediterranean, we walked back to the hotel to shower and change.
We then jumped on the bus and headed into Barcelona, where we stopped at the Museu Nacional D'Art De Catalunya. We walked the many steps to the top, which overlooks the entire city with some amazing views. We then checked out the Olympic Stadium that held the 1992 Olympic Games and was the home of Espanyol until five years ago. Coach Derek also informed us that the indoor arena was the site of the "Dream Team" and Team USA's gold medal in those games and we heard how Larry Bird was instrumental in the win (according to Coach Derek's unbiased Boston opinion!)
The guys then had a few hours to tour the city on their own, with some heading to the Picasso museum with Coach Jake and others sampling the many different dishes that Barcelona has to offer. After the short ride back to the hotel, we settled down and watched the Real Madrid vs. Schalke Champions League game and called it a night.
Tomorrow we play our second game in Girona, where we will also have the chance to tour the city beforehand. Hopefully we come away with a great experience and a positive result!
Today's blog post was written by junior midfielder Eddie Painter.
This morning the team got down to breakfast at 8 a.m. Most of us were awake beforehand, though, as we are still suffering from jetlag. The hotel breakfast was excellent, and if we didn't have practice afterward, I'm sure that we would all have eaten much more.
We walked over to the practice fields at 9 a.m. Our session was short and sweet today because we had a game later. We had a long job, stretch and dynamic warm-up in order for our legs to recover from the plane ride. We did some possession drills that were rather hectic, probably because we were all so excited to be playing in Spain!
For lunch we went to the excellent Masa Pi to enjoy an authentic Catalan meal. Most of the guys on the team enjoyed the traditional Catalan dish called canal ones, which is meat rolled up in a paper-thin layer of pasta with a cheesy creme on top, which was delicious!
After the meal we went back to our hotel to get our cleats and uniforms and then jumped on the bus to head to our game against CF Badalona. The atmosphere was intimate and had a sense of community. The field was flacked by stands and dressing rooms as usual but also had a small cafe built in next to the dressing rooms from where you could also watch the field. I had imagined that the cafe was for during games; however I noticed that parents ate and talked among one another while their kids were at practice.
We won a competitive game, 3-2, and I was happy with my own performance. Great job to Christian Lawal for scoring a hat trick!
Tomorrow morning we will spend completing a community service project for Santa Susana, the town we are staying in. Afterwards we will head to Barcelona for an afternoon of sightseeing. I personally cannot wait to see the city, as I have never been before.
GW men's soccer senior Matthew Scott has been named the GW Community Service Student-Athlete of the Month for February for his continued work with Somos Familia and the DC Stoddert Soccer Camp.
With an overnight flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Barcelona (via London Heathrow), days one and two rolled into one for our guys for what was a long but smooth journey!
A 6:30 a.m. flight out of D.C. in which the coaching staff engaged some tactical seat assignment changes before we took off - aisle and window seats were like gold dust! Movies, EPL highlights, homework and sleep was the order of the day throughout the flight and we landed at London Heathrow at 6 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). A very quick layover and we were back on a new, smaller airplane for the much shorter two-hour flight to Barcelona.
We arrived in Barcelona just after 11 a.m. local time and with (nearly) all bags accounted for. We met our tour host, Enrique, and jumped straight on our bus to head to the Camp Nou for the Barcelona vs. Rayo Vallecano La Liga game. Enrique informed us that Neymar Jr. was suspended and would not be playing, to the obvious sadness of some of our guys (Curry).
We arrived at the game 15 minutes in and with Barcelona already one goal to the good. Luckily, we were not short of goals as we witnessed six more, with the highlight being Messi's hat trick, which looked effortless at times. All the players and staff were amazed at the sheer size of the Camp Nou and the absolute brilliance of Barcelona that is even more impressive up close.
With some tired looking bodies, we jumped back on our bus after the final whistle and took the short trip to our hotel in Santa Susanna, a small beach town just outside of Barcelona. Some (much-needed) showers, exploring the hotel grounds and dinner, and that was that for what had been a very long but fun first two days!
Tomorrow we will play our first game of our trip against CF Badalona. Check back for a recap of Day 3 from one of our players!
GW women's soccer sophomores Mackenzie Cowley and Kate Elson traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to coach at Alex Morgan's ProCamp, sponsored by Tampax Pearl Active on Feb. 22 at the Under the Weather Sports Complex.
Alex Morgan is an Olympic gold medalist and currently plays professionally for the Portland Thorns FC. Morgan teamed up with ProCamps to bring her deep knowledge of the game around the country to young girls looking to improve their skills. Cincinnati's camp marked the fourth in a series of five scheduled clinics.
Cowley and Elson served as two of 20 coaches who instructed a station at the clinic. About 190 girls in grades 1-8 were taught the basics of passing, shooting and dribbling before playing in 6-v-6 scrimmages. Morgan made stops at each station, working hands-on with both players and coaches and offered her experiences and advice through a question-and-answer session at the end of the day.
Cowley excelled, earning the Coach of the Camp award.
"Working with the girls was the best part of the camp by far," said Cowley. "Kate and I both used coaching tactics we have learned at GW and through our own unique experiences to help the campers become better players."
Sophomore Paige Kovalsky was named College Sports Madness Atlantic 10 Player of the Week on Tuesday. Kovalsky was also tabbed GW's Colonial of the week on Monday for her performance at last weekend's Citrus Classic in Orlando, Florida.
The Windermere, Florida, native went 8-for-18 at the plate (.444) with five RBIs, four runs scored and three doubles in five games for the Colonials at the Citrus Classic. Kovalsky is batting a team-high.458 on the season through 11 games.
The pre-business administration major also started three games in the circle, notching a complete-game shutout over Marist on Friday, tossing all six innings of the contest and earning her first win of the season. Kovalsky helped GW earn its first-ever victory over Virginia, throwing all nine innings of a 16-9 victory in 10 innings on Saturday. Kovalsky holds a team-best 1.65 ERA with 25.1 innings pitched and a 2-0 record.
On the brink of the 2015 campaign, the GW lacrosse squad elected seniors Rachel Mia and Rachel Quinn and junior Olivia Boudreau as its team captains for the upcoming season.
"The team has selected three fantastic student-athletes to captain the team for the 2015 season," said first-year head coach Tracy Coyne. "It is without question that they are three of the hardest workers on the team with an unparalleled commitment to winning. As individuals, they represent in their daily lives the qualities we value in our leaders - a passion for the team's success, a true respect for others and a positive connection with their teammates. They have worked hard to ear the trust of the entire squad."
The Colonials begin their season on Wednesday afternoon at No. 17 Johns Hopkins, then host Yale on Saturday in their home opener at the GW Lacrosse Field on the Mount Vernon Campus.
"As we open up the season at home this weekend, I am confident that these three student-athletes will be ready to step up their competitiveness so that the team's attitude is where it should be to be victorious against Yale on Saturday," said Coach Coyne.