Women’s soccer travelled to Costa Rica last month for a nine-day trip that included sight seeing and community service.

However, soccer remained the main focus for the team as they played two professional Costa Rican teams and the Costa Rican women’s national team.

“Our intention going into this trip was not a vacation,” junior defender Natalie Di Angelo said. “It was business; it was soccer.”

Members of the women’s soccer team during a nine-day trip to Costa Rica last month. (Courtesy of CPP Sports Information)

The team beat AD Moravia and Muncipal Liberia, two professional teams and lost 2-1 to the Costa Rican national team.

Di Angelo described the teams they faced as “very technical” and able to possess the ball at a high level.

“It’s just different,” sophomore forward Shayna Larson said. “When we play here it’s a lot of boom ball, teams play long, it’s not as technical.”

Against the national team, CPP fell behind 2-0 before freshman forward Emilie Flaig ran onto a through ball, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball home with her left foot.

After a lung busting run to get on the end of the ball, Flaig had little energy left to celebrate.

“They still had that resilience to care about it and pull a goal back and continue to push,” head coach Jay Mason said. “The intensity didn’t drop, it wasn’t like their heads went down … they never quit.”

The team spent the hours before games on activities such as white water rafting and community service.

The community service stood out as the most memorable non-soccer activity of the trip.

The team visited a community center in an impoverished area and played with the children.

The players practiced speaking Spanish with the children and provided coloring books and other supplies.

“One of our girls was crying very heavily when we had to leave,” Larson said.

The team landed in San Jose and stayed in Alajuela, a province outside San Jose.

White water rafting took them into the rainforest and other stops included the Irazu Volcano, the beach and the city of Liberia.

Along with games, the team took day trips to different sights including white water rafting in the rain forest. (Courtesy of CPP Sports Information)

For Mason, the trip offered an opportunity to unite a young team that lives at school or off campus.

“In order to build our relationships and our culture, we needed to somehow isolate them,” Mason said.

Flaig, Larson and Di Angelo spoke about the opportunity the trip provided for them to build relationships with players they do not normally spend time with outside of soccer. Both Mason and assistant coach Katie Smith used the trip to see a different side of the individuals on the team and allowed the players to see a different side of the coaches.

“Every day, they come to practice. I don’t think they get to see the side of us that we would like to show them,” Smith said. “This trip gave us that opportunity to strengthen our relationships with girls on the team that maybe we don’t talk to as much.”

The planning of the trip began last spring when Mason spoke with a friend who took the Olympic Development Program from Texas to Costa Rica.

Through fundraising, the team paid for the trip as part of a nine-month preparation process.

Unless the next trip goes to Canada or Mexico, women’s soccer will have to wait four years for its next overseas trip.

“We’re already talking about our next trip,” Smith said.

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