UNC's Winding Road to Stanford Showdown
A travel trip just wouldn’t be normal without a little (or a lot) of what we like to call “Carolina chaos.” After arriving at the airport on Tuesday, we were set to travel in two groups, the first group being on a flight an hour earlier than the second. Well, as always, something had to go wrong. After hearing news of the first group being stuck on the runway for nearly two hours due to bad weather at their lay over location in Philly, we (the second group) arrived at RDU only to find out that the computer had rescheduled our flight without telling us to 6…the next morning. So we accepted the news, grabbed our bags and went out to the curb to call our van driver, only to find out he couldn’t come back for us because he had to drive our Volleyball team to the airport for their NCAA tournament games. After calling about ten people from Chapel Hill to come get us, and waiting two hours for rides (because of course this was all taking place in the midst of 5pm rush hour), I ended up back in Chapel Hill for the night. What an adventure that was…and the real adventure had not even begun yet!
We arrived in San Diego, California, on Wednesday morning, and before even landing the feeling that came over me of being back in my home state was surreal. We went to practice that afternoon at a local high school, where we did our normal practice routine (5v2s, 6v4 plus 1, and a full field 11v11 scrimmage). It was another really solid practice for us, and another emotional one knowing that it was our second to last practice all together with our seniors. As most people probably know, everything is a competition in Carolina Women’s Soccer, so we are always getting the most out of every drill or scrimmage that we do in practice. We left that practice with added confidence, got in an exceedingly chilly homemade ice bath, and headed to dinner at the family home of our assistant coach, Chris Ducar.
On Thursday we had our last practice together as a team for the season, but in the normal spirit of our team, we didn’t let our emotions get in the way of giving everything we had in our familiar pregame practice. With more laughs than tears, we sprinted off the field in a rush to get ready for the Final Four Banquet. With 22 girls having to get ready in one hour for a fancy dinner, I’m sure you can imagine the screaming chaotic scene that was going on around us. Yet, we somehow managed to clean up nicely (yes, we do dress like girls sometimes) and enjoyed a delicious dinner in a beautiful venue with Penn State, Florida State and Stanford University. Closing off the night with our dreaded pool workouts (they’re really not that bad at all yet we complain as much as possible because of the cold water), you might as well have mistaken us for a choir group because we may or may not have woken up the whole Marriott with our beautiful variation of Alicia Keys’ “No One” and Rihanna’s “Irreplaceable”.
Tonight we play Stanford and we are feeling rested/recovered from our long days of travel, and ready to take on an amazingly talented women’s soccer team. We have worked all season for these 90 minutes under the lights, and the nerves and excitement are present in the faces and body language of everyone on our team. We want this for each other, our team, and our family. Stay tuned for another piece post game!
You can follow Reilly on Twitter @RParkerr13