Editors Note: Abby Morillon, a member of the Golden Eagles women’s soccer team, will be checking in periodically from the 2017 NCJAA women’s national soccer championship tournament with a behind-the-scenes look at the team in its quest to win a national title.
The 2017 NJCAA Women’s national soccer tournament is being held in Melbourne, Florida. Travel day for the Golden Eagles was on Friday, Nov. 11
When we landed, we were automatically herded out of the terminal with hundreds of other people because a battery had exploded, and we all had to evacuate the terminal. Many people missed their flights because the airport trains could only hold 50 people at a time. After a while, airport security opened the doors to the main terminal, however, we had to walk a mile over a bridge. When we finally reached the main terminal, there were crowds of people, which made getting to the baggage claim a nightmare.
We met up with the coaches as they were getting rental cars. The rental cars didn’t arrive for over an hour. During that time the team decided to play a game called signs. We all sat in a circle, and each player had to come up with a sign. For example; a sign can be me touching my elbow and someone else’s sign could be touching their nose. To receive the invisible ball you have to do your sign first, which is touching your elbow. To pass the invisible ball you have to do someone else’s sign, which is touching your nose. There will be a person in the middle of the circle who will turn around and try to guess who has the ball. We played this game for a while until coach Gardner came to say we could leave.
The following morning we walked out on the beach to find the ball we had buried a year ago. This ball has a lot of meaning for our team because, as tradition, the previous year we had dug up a different ball that was buried the year before. The ball always has the names of previous players. We started digging a hole where we thought the ball would be. We each took at least 5 shovel scoops, however the farther and wider we dug, we couldn’t find the ball. We were convinced that the shrubs had grown over the ball throughout that year. It is against the law to dig up the shrubs so we unfortunately had to leave it. Within the week that we are here, we hope to possibly dig again in a different spot.
Preparation is key for our team to succeed. We practiced at the Eastern Florida soccer facility. We focused on our set plays and corners. Our defense had a lot of pressure put on them during practice as well. But it’s not all serious business while practicing. Coach Gardner set up a game where we play with our hands instead of our feet. Coach Gardner, Jose Arenas, Megan Shifflett and Kay Olivas stepped in to play as well. At the end of the day coach Gardner has a meeting, where he gives us confidence and has us watch film of our team on what we can improve.
We attended the NJCAA banquet where all teams in the tournament come and listen to an inspirational speaker and exchange shirts with the team we face first, which is Moraine Valley Community College. There was also inductees into the NJCAA hall of fame.
Today, Nov. 13, we play Moraine Valley Community College as our opening game to the tournament.