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Today we woke up for an 8:30 breakfast again. It has been pretty difficult adjusting to the 7 hour time difference. However, we’re hoping by napping less in the day and falling asleep earlier in the night, our bodies will start getting use to it.
Our first game was at 11:30am against a German team – Duisburg. The refs weren’t able to keep the physical part of the game under control, which led to some heated situations. But, despite of all that we pulled away with a 4-0 win.
We had about a 5 hour time window to get some lunch before our second game. So instead of going to the cafeteria for lunch, we walked to a strip mall where we had a couple different food choices. Most of us either had pizza or hamburgers/hotdogs. After lunch, we went to this little bakery to get some goodies to munch on for the walk back to the hotel. One of the hot items that many of the girls bought were the tasty cinnamon rolls.
After the long walk back to the hotel we had a little time to rest and then we were off for game 3 of the Brøndby Cup. We played another Danish team – GS Elite. After playing 80 minutes earlier that day, we were pretty exhausted. Although, we were able to come out with a 6-1 win.
As soon as the game was over, we went to the clubhouse right next to the fields where Phil treated us to dinner. We ate and headed back to the hotel to take a quick shower and go to sleep.
The outcome of our past three games in the tournament landed us in the finals the next morning where we would face the Brondby IF team we lost to 2-1 during out first game. Therefore, we went to bed eager for some revenge and excited for the chance to win an international championship.
Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo claimed the Brondby Cup title with an exhilarating 4-2 defeat of the host Brondby IF. Brondby – the defending Danish U18 champions had defeated Botafogo 2-1 two days ago, but in the final Botafogo wasn’t to be denied.
Playing on some very tired legs after a long and grueling summer (and 4 games in 44 hours), the Botafogo girls got off to a great start in the final when Zoe Swift scored in the 8th minute. Center-back Rachele Armand played a wonderful ball over the top that found a perfect 60-yard run by left-back Kaitlin Johnson who played in a great left-footed cross to Zoe Swift inside the 6-yard box.
After that great start, the tired legs started to show and Brondby dominated most of the rest of the first half. They managed to score two goals to take a 2-1 lead into the half-time.
However, switching from a 4-3-3 formation to a 4-5-1 formation from the start of the second half it was an inspired Botafogo team that immediately took control of the midfield. With that control the defenders got more time on the ball, and they started play-making and keeping better possession. The extra players in the midfield also allowed more penetrating runs from deep, and pretty soon Botafogo had established total dominance.
Ashley Handwork, playing as the lone striker, did a yeoman’s job up top, and about 15 minutes in her tenacious work won Botafogo a penalty which Meegan Johnston expertly converted to tie the game. Boosted by the goal Botafogo created chance after chance, and especially Kaitlin’s Johnson’s penetrating run from the left-back position onto a perfect Dana Miller through-ball had deserved a better end-result.
But the Botafogo parents, and Coach Phil Nielsen’s family, who were cheering the team on from the sideline had to wait until the 83rd minute before they saw the eventual game-winning goal. Another tenacious bit of pressuring by Ashley Handwork lead to a too-soft pass-back by the Brondby center-back, which Zoe Swift intercepted before calmly rounding the keeper and slotting it home with her 7th goal in 4 games.
And the fans got even more to cheer about less than 60 seconds later when Darby Moran hit a perfect shot from the distance to put the game away. It was a great goal to perfectly complete a fantastic performance at the end of an incredible summer of soccer for Botafogo.
Day 2 in Denmark:
Our first full day. We woke up for an 8:30am breakfast, and then we walked through the streets to a field that was outside of a school, where we had a short practice , consisting of a small sided scrimmage. After walking back to the hotel, we went to the cafeteria where all the teams eat. We were served hamburgers with real Heinz ketchup which we were excited by because it was the first American
Food we’ve had.
In the middle of the day sometime before our game, we all took a walk to a local grocery store. It felt like we had been walking for days but we were all being a little dramatic cause it probably only took 20 minutes one way. At the grocery store it was kind of overwhelming at first because we couldn’t really understand much. But we figured it out and they even had American food like Oreos, and Nutella which was very exciting.
Following that we had a 3:45 game against Bondby. At the field we got to meet some of Phil’s family, which we were all excited about. All of the younger kids from his family were wearing Team Chicago gear, even though they couldn’t really speak English we still had our own little fan club. Although we lost the game 2-1 to the Danish girls that stayed with us, it was a fairly even match , and hopefully we’ll get a chance to replay them in the finals.
After the game we went to get dinner in the cafeteria again, the dinner consisted of Danish meatballs and potatoes with gravy. Then some of the team went to go watch the Brondby professional reserve team, while the rest of us went up to our rooms.
After that we were all in the same hotel room talking to the Danes after the game, having a good time. It was 3 of the girls who had stayed with us and one of the girls’ brother and his 2 friends. Although they were standing on the opposite side of the room and not even speaking English , we got in trouble for having boys in the room. We’ll never make that mistake again. They all got kicked out, and we were hungry so Phil walked us to a restaurant Klubhouse to get some food and ice cream. That pretty much concluded our night because after that we went back to our rooms and went to bed.
Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo are currently in Denmark playing in the prestigious Brondby Cup. During their visit, the players will write a daily blog, which will be shared here on TeamPages.
We started out with a five hour wait in O’Hare, which as you know is filled with things to do (sarcasm), but it was fun because we all knew that when we boarded the plane we were on our way to Denmark.
Once we boarded the plane we pretty much all passed out within the first 20 minutes, until awoken for our 5 star meal. The meatloaf surprise and potatoes wasn’t that bad, plus we were all starving. After forcing it down, we all got settled in and found our way back to sleep. Well, most of us.
We awoke to the airplane lights shining on us and to our surprise it was daytime out. We got off the plane excited to see Denmark, only to wait in the airport for a couple more hours. But we got our bags, exchanged our money, and got on the bus.
We drove past some beautiful Danish countryside, and then through a tiny little village. We pulled up to our hotel which happened to be right next to the professional soccer stadium. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time for a nap, but probably wouldn’t have taken them anyway because we were all so intrigued by the hotel. Our rooms are the cutest little European style with a wrap-around balcony connecting all of our rooms. Plus a view of the stadium and the beautiful practice fields.
We got dressed in some warmer clothes and headed to the stadium to watch the professional Brondby team play Silkeborg in the Danish league. Luckily we got to sit in the VIP section so we were very close to all the players. The Danish U18 team that visited us 2 weeks ago were there as well, so it was fun to see them all again.
After Brondby won 2-1, some of us were able to go on the field and take pictures with a few of the players. It was similar to being at a Chicago Fire game, just better soccer. Overall the game was our first really great experience in Denmark with many more to come. We came home exhausted and went to bed ready to rise for our next day in Denmark.
Hope D’Addario & Dana Miller
Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo fell agonizingly short of the USYS National Championship game, but won the bronze medals as the 3rd best U17 girls team in the U.S.
In the final group game against the top-ranked Legends Breakaway from Southern California, Botafogo needed a win to secure a spot in the final. Playing in searing heat and humidity, the two teams put on a show worthy of a national championship game. Both teams were intent on keeping possession and playing out of the back, and for 90 minutes it was an intriguing chess-match between two fantastic teams.
After a scoreless first half, Breakaway scored first early in the 2nd half immediately after Botafogo missed a great chance. But it didn’t take long for Botafogo to answer back when Zoey Goralski picked up the ball off a throw-in at the halfway line and drove at goal. Sensing that the GK was off her line, Zoey unleashed a bomb from 25 yards out over the hapless keeper to level the score.
The last 25 minutes was a fantastic contest between two teams that were going all-out for the win. Zoey Goralski came closest to notching the all-important goal for Botafogo, but the Breakaway GK made a great save at the foot of the post. As Botafogo threw all caution to the win to get the game-winner, Breakaway managed to notch the winner in the dying minutes of the game.
While the result meant that Botafogo came up short in its quest for a National Championship, it was an incredibly proud team and coaching staff that emerged for the trophy ceremony shortly after the game. Finishing 3rd in the Nation after an incredible season, and with the knowledge that they had played an amazing game against a fantastic opponent, the players were determined to enjoy their accomplishments over the past year, and to start focusing on climbing the final two steps on the podium at next year’s National Championships.