Recent Penn graduate Natalie Capuano is in Finland playing professional soccer; occasionally she has sent reports back to PennAthletics.com. This is the second one since she went over the pond...
PHILADELPHIA - Now that I've been in Finland for a little over two months, I wanted to check in and give an update of how things were going.
At this point in the season, my team has a record of 9-2-1. We are currently in third place, but only one point out of second place and three points out of first. There are still eight games left to play, five of which are home games, so anything can happen. In the last two games, our team has scored 13 goals and given up only one. The number of goals scored and allowed may end up being two really important factors in determining who wins the league in case of a tie, so the past two weekends have given our team a huge lift in that regard.
Our coach decided to change some things around due to injuries, and I actually got to play up top, which is something I haven't done since high school. I have to say that I think it has gone pretty well so far -- in two games I have five goals and three assists. I don't know if the coach will keep me there or move me back to the midfield, but it doesn't really matter to me as long as we keep winning.
In the past two weeks we have added two more players to our team. One is a center back from California who just graduated from Cal State Fullerton. The other is a forward who plays on the Nigerian National Team. Both players are great additions to the team and should really help us out down the stretch.
In about two weeks, the UEFA Women's Championships are starting, and Finland is hosting. The other night our team went to see Finland play Northern Ireland, which was Finland's last match before the tournament begins. The game was in the Finnair Stadium, but I think that the games for the tournament will be played in the Olympic Stadium, which is right next to the Finnair one. I know that our team will be watching the Finland-Denmark game, but I plan on going to see a few others as well. One of my teammates and I have tickets to the England-Sweden game, and then we're also hoping to see Italy play England.
I'm really looking forward for the tournament to begin, and I know a lot of other people are as well. Pia Sundhage, who is the head coach of the US Women's National Team, is also coming to Finland to watch the Championships. She is actually good friends with my coach, and she has arranged for Pia to come to one of our practices, which is very exciting. I was also told that there would be television cameras there, so I might have the chance to be on Finnish TV!
One interesting thing about the Finnish soccer league is that players on different teams sometimes go to train with other clubs during their off weeks. For instance, just a few days ago we had Cynthia Uwak come to one of our practices. She also plays on the Nigerian National Team, and in 2007 she was nominated by FIFA for the Female Soccer Player of the Year Award. She is playing on a Finnish team called Kuopio, and she is currently leading the league in goal-scoring with 18. I feel very fortunate to share the field with such a diverse group of players, and I definitely feel like I am getting the full international experience.