Saturday: Leidens Ontzet
On Saturday, I went with Kim into Leiden to check out the festival called Leidens Ontzet that I had heard so much about! To give a little background, it is a celebration of the liberation of the city from the Spanish in 1574. The festival lasts for a few days, but always ends on October 3rd. Since we had our first game on Sunday, we obviously couldn’t go then, so on Saturday we ventured on the train from Den Haag some ten minutes to Leiden Centraal. Never having been to Leiden, we were a bit unsure of where to go exactly, but as we walked out of the train station, carnival rides and fair attractions were right there to greet us! It actually looked like a fair or carnival that you would find in the US. They had all sorts of rides, a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, rides that go upside down, mini roller coasters, bumper cars, and more. There were carnival games such as basketball and the water gun shooting, but they had a few new unique ones too. Kim and I liked the one where you had to throw a ball to break the moving plates! Also, they had one with a real bow and arrow you had to shoot to pop balloons. Very interesting! Of course there were lots of food vendors which had a variety of Dutch treats and we had to try a few of those as well! Very delicious… super lekker! There were some clothing, jewelry, etc. vendors as well. You could find almost anything you wanted at the festival! It was really fun until it started to rain, which was bound to happen here in Holland! So Kim and I ducked into a café, met up with Lizzie (a teammate from HGC who goes to University in Leiden) and Maureen Daniel (who played for the US Developmental Team) and had a few drinks before we headed home. All in all, it was a fun-filled, adventurous day in Leiden!
Sunday: GAME DAY!
Game days are my favorite days…. especially when it is the start of a new season! After graduating from college, you don’t really have a season while playing for the US team. We go on tour or go to tournaments, but we also play games in groups. I’ve missed having a game every week! Our season opener was against Laren, one of the top teams in the league. They have 4 Dutch Internationals along with a few from other countries, including the German captain. Naomi van As, who played with Rachel Dawson at KZ (Klein Zwitzerland) last year now plays for Laren as well. The game started out at a very high intensity which never really dropped the whole game. The first half we came out strong, but Laren was a bit more focused. They took the 1-0 lead into half time off a stroke which was called when a corner strike hit our post player’s foot. Still in the game, we came out fired up for the second half, ready to give Laren a run for their money. We picked up our intensity, energy, and pressure in the second half and looked really good for periods. After Laren finished on a beautifully executed corner midway through the half, we found ourselves down 2-0 with a bit of work to do. We created a few chances including a 2v1 on the goalkeeper and a corner, but we couldn’t convert. Laren then took advantage of a mistake in our backfield and put the game out of reach at 3-0. It was a frustrating loss and start to our season, but to a very good team. Indeed, we did some things well that we hadn’t yet done in our practice matches, and although the score line is not what we had wished, I still think it is a good starting point and motivator for the season.
After the game, I got to see Pat Harris (US Men’s National Team player) play for a bit because he plays for the men’s side at Laren. Although I only stayed for the first half, I did get to see him score a goal!! Very exciting and I let everyone know he is an American! J
Sunday night was just what I needed after a hard day’s work on the field. Pizza and Sunday night football!! And when I say football, I mean American Football! There is a sportsbar (which are rare here) in Den Haag only a couple miles from where I live. I went with Kim, Moei, and one of my Dutch teammates Sophie. Even though my team (the Panthers) wasn’t playing, it was so nice to sit and watch ESPN and some football- American style! I will definitely find myself there many more Sunday nights to come!
I had some free time Monday morning and decided to do some more adventuring! Delft is a little town just south of Den Haag. It only takes 10 minutes by train. Kim and I decided to go see what this quaint canal town had to offer. Colin Scally (another US Men’s player) and his sister Jackie who is visiting also came along. The cute little town of Delft has a bit of history in the Churches, along with delftware which is the famous blue and white pottery. There are delftware shops on every corner too! The most notable buildings, the new and old church, can be seen from a distance. Town hall also stands across the square from the new church. The best and worst part of the trip was the new Church because it has a tower that you can climb with gorgeous views. The only downside to this was the actual climb. A small spiral staircase of what seemed like over 500 steps takes you to this magnificent panoramic view. It was clear today so we could see both Den Haag and Rotterdam from the top. It was pretty amazing! And in the end…. worth the burn of the climb!
It’s been another busy week/weekend and I am exhausted. I’m off to bed early tonight and going to take it easy the rest of the week in my down time. Have to be ready for next week’s game because it is a must win for us! More to come from over here in the Netherlands… hup HGC!