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UPDATED: U19 Team England – Canada Tour Blog

The senior Team England squad are not the only English team representing the country this summer. The U19’s are also in Canada and have been playing a number of local sides in the build-up to the main event, which starts tonight with the opening ceremony. We caught up with the team and bring you their daily U19 Team England Canada Tour Blog.

Day 1

We arrived at Gatwick in the early morning and with a few teary fathers, we made our way through the terminal. After  a surprising number of bag security checks we embarked on our 10 hour journey to Toronto. After an 8 hour flight, (where we were asked for autographs!) we travelled a further 2 hours to our hotel near the Niagara Falls. After a quick swim and shower we tucked into a carb filled dinner together to prepare for the long day ahead. The team banter is already flowing and we’re all really looking forward to tomorrow’s visit to the Falls, followed by our first game of the tour.  Having not slept much for 22 hours, an early night is necessary to prepare for tomorrow.

Day 2

After making the most of the ‘all you can eat’ buffet breakfast with some taking that phase slightly more literally than others by having at least three courses, the entire squad headed down to Niagara for the ‘maid of the mist’ tour, with most being more excited about the free blue poncho’s than the actual waterfall! With everyone in high spirits looking unfortunately like blue smurfs we embarked on our tour of the waterfall, which resulted in us being drenched from head to toe.  However wet we were, the falls were breathtaking and was a truly unforgettable experience. After a quick detour to subway and Starbucks for lunch (an obvious choice of nutrition for aspiring athletes) we headed off to our first match. On the coach on the way we avidly listened to Phoebe on the phone to her uncle for updates on the Wimbledon final. After three match points and much suspense, the entire coach, bar one traitor (Nilou) was ecstatic to hear that Murray was victorious. This put us in a winners mind-set for the matches to come.

Once we arrived at Chinguacosey Park, the B team got ready for their match against Brampton Excelsiors U19, and after a warm up and team talk the match begun. At first we found the heat quite hard to play in, but we soon got really into the match and it was not as much of a problem, and with regular subbing we soon hardly noticed it. Georgie Waterman and Amelia Gordon scored two excellent goals each in the first half, and so at half time the score was 4-3 to us. After a team talk about our strong areas during the match and the areas that we felt we could improve on, we went back out full of determination to maintain our lead. Our defensive unit became a lot stronger during the last 25 minutes of the game, and Ayesha Nicoles scored two brilliant goals and Amelia Gordon scored a further two, and so with only minutes left of the game the score was 8-7 to us and so we held possession in our attack. The game ended with a drive from the top and a goal from Lois Buck. This meant that we had won our first match 9-7, which is an excellent start to the tour and has got us really excited for all of our matches to come!

The A Team’s first match was against Brampton Excelsior’s senior squad.  As the squad sang ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, the Heaven’s opened and play was suspended as a thunder storm raged above us.  After half an hour, the game began in very heavy rain. Brampton started strongly, scoring the first three goals within twenty minutes.  With five minutes left before half time, Katharine Bailey assisted Alice Goodinge in an excellent executed ‘hole play’ move.  Building on this new momentum, the England team then scored two quick goals; the first, a drive and slot – Izzy Brown who fed Nancy Day, moving the keeper and firing the ball into the net.  The second was a free-position, wonky Sophie Carter, who then passed to JoJo Jameson who scored.  The score at halftime was 4-3 to Brampton.  The squad knew that they had to go on and increase their intensity. Therefore,  within the first two minutes of the second half, we scored twice.  The first was an assisted  goal – Eliza Watson fed to Alice Cranwell, who fired an excellent goal past the keeper.  The second goal was scored by Nancy Day from a free position.  Soon after, Emily Sambrook Smith fed to Alice Goodinge, who scored off a drive and slot.

The team continued to threaten Brampton’s defence, and Emma Oakley scored from a drive.  The score was now 7-4.  However, England’s concentrations slipped and Brampton exploited our slight loss of focus, scoring a goal with 16 minutes to go.  We retaliated with two goals – one from a free position by Eliza Watson, the other was a drive executed by Sophie Carter.  The score was now 9-5.  However, again, focus seemed to slip, and Brampton scored 3 goals within quick succession. The game was tense with the score at 9-8.  Brampton’s defence began to pressure the ball, pushing out on our attackers.  Alice Goodinge moved her defender, feeding to Watson who ensured a 10-8 score line.  Frustrated by this, Brampton conceded a yellow card with 2 minutes to go. Although they were a man down, they scored with 10 seconds to go.  However, England had done enough to secure a victory and the final score was 10-9.  From this game we can take away many positive things, including our natural flare and imagination in attack, and our ability to slow the ball down in defence and force our opponents to settle.  The squad also recognises the importance of maintaining focus throughout the match.

After our matches, the England squads travelled to Orangeville where we met our host families for the next two nights. The rendezvous was called a ‘Tailgate’, and the club had decorated a dining room with balloons and a wonderful array of food was prepared. The squad began to socialise with our hosts and enjoyed a delicious feast. They had made three ginormous cakes, which the teams devoured. Once full, we departed with our respective hosts for the evenings. Some of us were taken to the movies, but did not make it far through the film before dozing off, following our tiring matches and still affected by the jet lag. Others went to ‘box lacrosse’, a popular game in Canada, which is both vicious and exciting.  After a welcome shower, we headed for bed.

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U19@ THE WORLD CUP

Team England have been helped along by the tremendous support from the U19 Girls and are by far the loudest supporters at this years World Cup. As the team head home this week they will be sorely missed by the seniors as they enter the business end of the tournament and enter the play-off games. #teamengland

Here are a selection of images from the World Cup Team England cheering section.