Soccer in the United States is constantly growing and improving, with coaches being challenged to keep up to date with training methods and developments within the game. One way TSF Academy is constantly striving to improve is by exposing players to as many different environments as possible.
TSF Academy Girls’ Director, Patrick O’Connor, recently led a team of 2004 and 2005 girls across the Atlantic to take on Europe’s finest in the San Marino Cup, based in Italy. 16 players made the 7 hour flight to a country with a rich tapestry of history in international soccer.
Italy is home to several soccer “giants” in the European game: Inter Milan, Juventus and AC Milan to name but a few. To begin the trip the girls were welcomed into another of Italy’s greatest clubs, visiting AS Roma for a training session with the club’s Academy staff, before taking a walking tour of the great city.
After acclimatizing to the time zone, and weather the team headed north towards the San Marino Republic in preparation for the start of the San Marino Cup. TSF were slated to face one of Sweden’s top teams, AIK, in the first game of the tournament and emerged unscathed in a 0-0 draw, starting the tournament off with a clean sheet and a solid point.
That evening the TSF girls were chosen to lead the USA out at the opening ceremony. This year’s tournament saw more than 100 teams competing from all over the world: USA; Sweden; Italy; England; France; South Africa; Lebanon; Taiwan; Croatia and more.
The following 3 group games came on Tuesday. Real Meda of Italy, led to a comfortable 3-0 victory, whilst the game against fellow Americans, XL National, saw TSF come out on top 2-0. In their final game of the day, taking on FC Como of Italy, only a win would see the girls through to the final. After sustained periods of pressure, TSF were awarded a late penalty, which Maggie Blum skillfully converted to secure the victory.
The final was played out saw TSF, who had topped their group with 10 points, take on CSRD. Azalee of Italy, who also topped their group . A tight and hard fought encounter looked like ending goalless before a corner from Blum was met at the back post by Anna Porucznik to seal the win.
“It was just such a great experience for our girls. Not only winning a highly prestigious International Tournament, but to experience a culture where soccer is more than just a hobby, but a way of life.” Patrick O’Connor commented.
“The competition was incredible and this experience will stay with our girls for the rest of their lives. Representing TSF, and the United States on an international stage, is a huge honor, and the girls acquitted themselves with supreme humility, confidence and professionalism. I am extremely proud of each and every one of them.”