The Virginia Wesleyan women’s soccer team embarked on an unforgettable trip through Europe this past summer. It was a journey that took them through some of the biggest soccer countries in the world and allowed them to not only test themselves against stiff overseas competition, but to experience other parts of the world and bond together as a team.
The week-long trip lasted from Aug. 4 to Aug. 11. During this time, the Marlins played three games against competitive overseas opponents. The Marlins ended up leaving Europe with one win and two losses.
In their first game against the Austrian club, LUV Graz, the Marlins came out with a 2-1 victory. The Marlins were then defeated 3-7 by the Austrian club, FC Bergheim, in their second game. In the final game of the overseas tour, the Marlins suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the German side, FC Augsburg. When looking back on the team’s three games in Europe, junior Ryan Applewhite said, “Even though some of the games didn’t go as we would have liked, I think it was great for our team to be able to go against some really tough competition from across the world. The trip is something that we think we can build from heading into the season.”
Although the Marlins left Europe with a losing record, the trip marked a crucial time for the team to grow in preparation for a season with very high expectations. The program is coming off of a very successful 2017 campaign that included a 15-7-1 record, an NCAA tournament at-large bid, and a 3-2 victory in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Tufts. With head coach Jeff Bowers hoping to earn his nineteenth straight winning season with the team, the Marlins began this season ranked 24 in the nation and will look to build off of their success in the previous two seasons.
For the Marlins, this trip was about more than just playing soccer. It was an opportunity for the program to experience culture from across the world and to come together and bond as a team. Throughout the week, the Marlins were given the opportunity to explore European countries such as Slovenia, Austria, and Germany. Trying to pack as much as they could into the trip, the team went whitewater rafting, hiked up to ice caves, explored medieval castles, experienced an FC Red Bull Salzburg soccer game, and toured the stadium of one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world, FC Bayern Munich.
When asked about her favorite memories from the trip, junior Shae Geary said, “While we were in Graz, Austria we were able to walk around the city and had the freedom to explore wherever we wanted. The city itself was beautiful as well as the castles that we got to tour that were near the city.”
Geary also added, “Another one of my favorite parts was seeing how important soccer is to the people in Europe. We got to go to an FC Red Bull Salzburg game in Austria and also got the chance to tour Bayern Munich’s stadium while in Germany.”
When asked the same question senior Alex Cortright recalled another memory. “I absolutely loved white water rafting in Austria. It was so much fun. The best part was when we pushed our coaches off of the rafts and into the water.”
Through this European tour, the Virginia Wesleyan women’s soccer team was able to bond and grow closer. Coming off of a very successful season that resulted in the Marlins’ second straight NCAA tournament appearance, the Marlins have the look of a very dangerous squad with a mixture of veteran leadership alongside young talent.