July 30, 2006
With the start of the college soccer season still a few weeks away, Notre Dame rising junior forward Amanda Cinalli (Maple Heights, Ohio) took a few moments to reflect on her experience this summer playing with the United States Under-21 Women’s National Team. The USA used an inspired 4-0 win over the host country Norway to advance to the championship game of the annual Nordic Cup – the world’s top tournament for youth women’s soccer – before losing the 2-0 final to Germany, a growing rival for USA women’s soccer on all levels. Cinalli saw significant minutes in all four games at the Nordic Cup and helped the USA dominate statistically during the tournament.
Nordic Cup Soccer Journal – Amanda Cinalli (July 30, 2006)
“Before this experience with the U-21 WNT, I had not been with a national team since high school. Knowing that the U-20s already had their roster picked for the 2006 U-20 World Championship this fall, I was pretty convinced that I was not going to be making a national team any time soon.
“Much to my surprise, I was awakened one morning by my mom’s excitement after listening to a message the U-21 WNT left, inviting me to a camp in Maryland. This was the final camp, out of many since January, that this team was going to have before leaving for the Nordic Cup in Norway. I was so honored and excited to have been invited.
“After the first day of training in Maryland, I saw how good these girls were and how well they worked together and I found myself doubting my chances of actually making this team. Despite my doubts, I was determined to work my hardest and play my best for the team so that even if I didn’t make the team, I would push the girls around me and try to make them better in any way possible for the Nordic Cup.?
“At the end of the week, I not only came out of the camp with a great new experience and new friends, but also with an invite to go to the Nordic Cup with them. I was completely shocked and thrilled to have been giving this opportunity to play in the Nordic Cup with such an incredible group of girls and to be led by such a great staff.?
“The team consisted of 18 players, all bringing something unique to the team, whether it was on or off of the field. We knew how to have fun and joke around, but we also knew when to get serious for training or for a game. I learned so much from each of the girls and came out of the Nordic Cup with 17 new friends and memories that I will never forget.
“Even though we did not officially win the Nordic Cup, playing that game against Norway and beating them 4-0 in order to get into the final felt just as good as winning the entire thing. It says a lot about the heart and determination of this team to have been able to play under such a situation and come out victorious against all odds.?
“Our staff was such a fun group and each person was essential for our success all the way from the great leadership of our coaches Jill Ellis, Tricia Taliaferro and Joe Mallia, to our scouting coach Derek Marinatos, to our trainer Greg Banks and doctor Daryl Rosenbaum, both keeping us all in one piece, to our equipment coordinator Josh Field, to our massage therapist Jarrod Fritz, and to our coordinator, Brittany Braun, who held it all together. They are all very good at what they do and truly helped us grow as individual players and as a team.?
“I am so thankful that God blessed me with this experience. It was truly enjoyable from both a soccer and traveling perspective. Now, I am really looking forward to getting back to the girls and staff at Notre Dame and getting this fall season started!”
(Note: Cinalli’s daily recaps from the Nordic Cup are included below.)
Sunday July 16 – “Hello Notre Dame fans. Well, I’m here in Norway competing with Team USA at the Nordic Cup. We played Denmark today. They were tall and very good in the air. We did very well and scored two goals in the first half, a header off of a corner kick by India Trotter and a great shot by Danesha Adams after a really nice thru-ball by Brittany Taylor, who plays in the BIG EAST at UConn. We ended up scoring one more goal in the second half to make it a 3-0 victory after Bristyn Davis laid a nice ball back from the endline to Katie Griffin, who nicely placed the ball into the back of the net. It was a great way to start off the tournament and I am really excited for the rest of the week!”
Monday July 17 – “After training today, we went on a boat ride in the North Sea to go see the Fjords (tall rock formations created by ancient glaciers) and waterfalls. Norway is beautiful. The water is clear and a beautiful blue/green – but there are a lot of orange jellyfish floating around near the bay! The sun is out for about 20 out of the 24 hours of the day, the mountains and hills are full of green trees and cool houses, and the rocks are huge and each formation has an interesting story behind it. After drinking some fresh water from a waterfall and stopping to feed the mountain goats, we headed back to the bay for the day.”
Tuesday July 18 – “We played Iceland today. They were a big and physical team. We dominated the entire first half but with about 10 minutes left they scored off a free-kick. The free-kick wasn’t really deserved, as the player took a dive right outside the box. We regrouped at halftime and by the time the team stepped onto the field we were determined to stay tough and to continue dominating the game. The intensity was very good from our team and we ended up obtaining a PK early in the half after an Iceland player accidentally blocked a shot with her hand in the box. Danesha Adams scored the PK and we were then tied 1-1. Regulation time ended and the game was considered a tie, but penalty kicks were taken just in case ties occur at the end of the three games and goal differential is necessary to get into the championship game. We won the PKs so we will have that edge if we end up tied with Iceland in the standings. Now it’s time to prepare for Norway on Thursday.
Thursday, July 20 – “Our game against Norway today was incredible! Iceland played Denmark before our game and our game depended on the outcome of their score. No matter what,?we had to win our game by at least one goal less or better than Iceland won theirs.
“Knowing this, Iceland was relentless and beat Denmark 6-1. As soon as our bus got to the game, our coach Jill came to the back of the bus and told us Iceland had won 6-1 so we had to win by four goals in order to make it into the final! We all were so shocked by the high score and were a little nervous until Jill said something like, “There is not a mountain in the world that hasn’t been climbed. We can do this!” That got us all really pumped as we walked off the bus and towards the locker room.
“We were all really excited for the game and my teammates and I were sharing and shouting all kinds of encouraging words. Jill came back in right before we were to start warming up and she told us about the American in the Tour de France, who completed an amazing task against all the odds and made up the seven crucial minutes that he fell behind in the day before. That was the inspiration we needed! I said a quick prayer to myself and then we walked onto the field.
“This was such an exciting game. The score was only 1-0 going into half, scored by a beautiful long shot from Danesha Adams. At the start of the second half I was so anxious and excited I couldn’t sit down. We scored two more goals, the first was a header by Danesha and the second followed quickly after off of a header by Noelle Keselica. The score was now 3-0 and we needed one more in order to advance.
“For our final goal, I received the ball and made a move around my defender and was able to get into the box where she fouled me from behind. We were rewarded a PK and Danesha nicely placed it into the back of the net. We were so excited to have actually achieved our goal of the day and by the end of the game when we looked at the 4-0 score, we still couldn’t believe it! After celebrating our victory for a short while, we refocused our attention on beating Germany in the final.
<(from left)=””>(from>Amanda Cinalli, Bristyn and Becca Moros take in some of the beautiful scenery in Norway.>
Saturday July 22 – “Today was the Nordic Cup championship game vs. Germany. We arrived at the stadium, dropped our stuff off in the locker room, and all went out to the field to get a feel for the atmosphere. It was a huge stadium and the field was perfect. The grass was short and the weather was just the right temperature with a slight overcast, which helped keep the sun out of our eyes. ?
“In the locker room before the game, one of our girls got us psyched when she said, `Look at the movie Miracle. It wouldn’t have been such a miracle if the U.S. Olympic hockey team upset the Soviet Union in the semifinals and then lost in the final. Let’s do this!’
“As the national anthems of both countries played it truly sunk into me that we were playing in the championship game and butterflies filled my stomach and my heart started racing. We were really pressuring Germany and moving the ball well until they scored in the first half after one of our defenders slipped on our six-yard line. It was a tough blow, but we knew that the only way we were going to get back into this was if we stayed positive and never let down.
“Going into the second half, our play started to get a little more direct and we created several chances. Despite our efforts, we lost 2-0. Even though we lost, I was so proud of our team for fighting so hard and not ever stopping until the last whistle was blown. I learned so much from this trip and am so thankful for the experience I got here in Norway with this wonderful team and staff. Now, I am really looking forward to our season at Notre Dame, and I can’t wait to get back to my family away from home! GO?IRISH and GO USA!”
– Amada Cinalli