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University of Iowa sophomore Dani Hemeon is competing for the USA U21 Junior National Squad. Team USA competed at the U21 New Zealand Tour from Jan. 8-12 and the Australian Youth Olympic Festival from Jan. 14-20.
Thursday, Jan. 16
We’ve now played two games here in Sydney, and needless to say, they haven’t gone how we had hoped. We lost our first match to China, 5-2, and then lost to Australia, 4-2. In our game against Australia, we were up 2-0 in the first half. However, Australia converted on a penalty corner in the last few minutes of the half, making it 2-1. We had trouble producing on offense in the second half, and they were able to come from behind to beat us. We were not unevenly matched in either game, however, we had a few lulls in each game that really hurt us. I’ve learned that at the international level, teams really take advantage of these moments. Today, we had an off day, and luckily the tournament officials picked today because it is 114 degrees here in Sydney. It is the hottest day they have had in 39 years! Crazy! We practiced at 10 a.m. this moring and the temperature was already starting to climb. Then, our team spent the whole day at the mall just to sit in the air conditioning for a while because the rooms we are staying in do not have a cooling system. I hear it is supposed to cool down again tomorrow for our game, fingers crossed!
Monday, Jan. 14
Our scrimmage against China yesterday went well. We played three 20-minute periods. Our coaches were spot on when they described how quick China’s passing was. What caught me off guard was their tactic of just sending balls across the circle looking for tips. Rarely did they take shots from the top of the circle, which forced us to really body up. The score ended up being 1-1. However, we open up the tournament tomorrow against China so we’ll get another shot against them right away. Today we watched some film and tweaked a few things here and there in practice so tomorow we’ll be good to go. Starting off the tournament with a win would really set the tone for all we want to accomplish while we’re here in Australia.
Sunday, Jan. 13
Yesterday, we left New Zealand with a 3-1 record, and we were off to Australia! We arrived in Sydney last night around 9 p.m. It was about a three-hour flight and luckily we didn’t have to worry about any jet lag. We didn’t have a game today so our coaches let us explore Sydney. It was so awesome! I took plenty of pictures of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Suprisingly, the weather was really overcast for a place where it’s supposed to be summer. It rained, and it even started to thunderstorm. I made sure I bought all my gifts for my family today because I’m sure we’ll be pretty busy the rest of the trip. Tomorrow we practice and have a test scrimmage against China. It should be a really interesting game because I hear they have a very fast paced style of play. I’m super excited to get the chance to play them before the actual tournament starts.