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Cari Roccaro’s Week with the U.S. Under-20 National Team

Feb 15, 2013, 11:29 AM EDT

Cari Roccaro scored six goals during the 2012 season. (photo by Joseph Weiser) Cari Roccaro scored six goals during the 2012 season. (photo by Joseph Weiser)

Notre Dame freshmen Katie Naughton and Cari Roccaro were among 24 players invited to the first United States Under-20 Women’s National Soccer Team Camp of 2013. Read more about the camp, which was held Feb. 2-9 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in the press release on UND.com. In this post, Roccaro shares her daily blog from the recent trip.

Saturday: Our early morning flight out of South Bend got canceled due to bad weather, and after a long day of travel and many complications, Katie and I made it to California around 10:00 that night. We unfortunately missed the first day, which includes all of the “hellos” and hugs after being separated from great friends for so long. We missed the first training session and the first meeting, but at least we got there in time for the second day.

Sunday: Our first full day, which included two sessions full of…TESTING. In the morning, we had some Sparq testing, which includes agility, speed, vertical jumping, and of course, the beep test. The agility was my favorite, only because we got to see a few face plants and falls, which lightened the mood. After completing all tests but the final beep test, everyone wanted to just run the test and get it out of the way! I’m still not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing that the radio wouldn’t work, because yes we got out of the beep test…Until that afternoon. The afternoon session was more of the technical testing. This included long balls, dribbling, juggling, and shooting. After completing all of the technical work, we had to finally run the beep test. It was the last activity of the day, but we got it done, and we all did well. I was ready to play some soccer the next day.

Monday: We had two sessions again. Before we went out to the field we played some tunes in the locker room. Justin Bieber has been a really popular choice of music for the locker room. Some girls really like to hit the dance floor (me only), but most just sit and put on their cleats and hydrate (which is everyone else). The first session we split up in groups based on position. Katie and I were working with the defenders, and we had a blast doing drills. Every time we did the drill really well we would all clap. It was pretty funny. At the end of the session we played a 9-v-9 scrimmage. It was great to finally get out and just play with the girls and get to know their personalities on the field. In the second session, we began with a technical drill with competition juggling and competition long balls. I might have done better in the competition if my partner and I weren’t chasing our balls in the bushes for the whole drill, but it was still fun. This session was more of a light session because the team was feeling pretty sore, and we did some attacking drills and finished up with full field 11-v-11.

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Despite missing several games while playing in the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, Roccaro was the Irish’s third-leading goal scorer. (photo by Joseph Weiser)

Tuesday: We had a light morning with some pattern play, 7-v-7-v7, and a scrimmage at the end of the morning. We all needed to get our legs back and get ready for the big 6-v-6 tournament that was coming up that afternoon. The 6-v-6 tournament was my favorite session of camp so far. We combined with the U-18 National Team girls and got put into teams of seven or eight, and played our opponents each one time through. At the end of regulation, there were playoff rounds. Katie’s team and my team both made it to the championship round (Of course my team had an undefeated record), which continued to stay undefeated since we beat them 1-0 to win the 6-v-6 tournament. It was great to win, but we didn’t get anything special for doing so..BUT both teams got to go out to P.F. Chang’s for a fun night out with some great food! The meal was delicious. My favorite dish had to be the wantons with crabmeat inside them. I do not even know what they are actually called, but I really should find out. And of course, we couldn’t leave P.F. Chang’s without getting dessert! Red velvet cake was my choice, and it was fantastic!

Wednesday: Although today was a day to sleep in an extra hour, a bunch of my teammates and I woke up two hours before we actually had to go down to get breakfast. We all tried to get some homework done while our roommates were all still asleep. After breakfast both the U-20s and the U-18s went for a jog and stretch around the hotel, and we had to foam roll our legs. It was pretty interesting actually, because this is the first time I had to foam roll without using an actual foam roller. We all had to use soccer balls to roll out, and let’s just say it did not work out very well! Today was a special today because we had a guest speaker at lunch, Angela Hucles, who was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and a two-time USA World Cup player. It was cool to hear about her experiences growing up in the national team programs and how she managed to handle adversity. I enjoyed hearing what she had to say. Our afternoon practice today got a little intense…It was 1-v-1 defending day. This was such a fun session, and all of the girls were really competitive which made it so enjoyable. We were able to focus and complete the drills properly while laughing and having a great time together at the same time.

Thursday: We had a tough session in the morning as we worked on 3-v-2 defending and attacking. At this point in the week everyone was very sore and was continuing to push through the trainings and have a good time. In between sessions I decided to relax and watch a movie with some friends. I watched The Switch (starring Jen Aniston who is my favorite). Our second session was very fun. We all got to relax and play some soccer tennis. There were a bunch of teams of three, and we each got to play about seven games. My team almost made it up to the winners bracket, but we did not quite make it up that far, and by the end of the soccer tennis tournament, we were one grid away from being in the losing bracket. Win or lose, it was a great time, and a fun way to work on having a good first touch.

Friday: The best day of the week. GAME DAY. The weather was a little unpredictable throughout the day and we weren’t sure if we were going to get in the game due to the rain. The good news is we did get the game in, but it was raining throughout random points in the game. It was probably the weirdest weather I have experienced in California. Our opponent for the game was UCLA, and we beat them 3-2. I played outside back, which was a fun experience since it is one of the only positions I do not play normally. I really enjoy playing there. Katie played center back and did great there. UCLA was a great team and they moved the ball really well. It was great competition for the U20 team. Also, it was good to reunite with some of my good friends on UCLA, some previous national team teammates from prior years. That’s what I love about soccer; it brings everyone from all over the world together, and allows me to create amazing friendships that will last a lifetime.

After the game we returned our gear to the equipment manager and headed back to the hotel for our last meal and meeting. Of course, the last meal was hamburgers and curly fries! Let’s just say I overloaded my plate, and then went for a second helping. Every once in a while it’s nice to eat some treats like that. After dinner, we had our closing meeting and said our goodbyes to the coaches and players. I always hate saying goodbye, but I hope to see them all soon. After packing up that night and leaving the next morning at 4 am, Katie and I arrived on campus around 3 pm and were able to see some friends and catch up on some schoolwork. It was a fun week and now I’m ready to be back with the team for a fun week of training with E.

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