MU soccer team bonds in Brazil

Wednesday, August 27, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:15 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

For the Missouri soccer team, a trip to Brazil was more than a chance to play more matches.

Not only was the trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil, a chance for the Tigers to prepare for the season, but it also was a trip that allowed the team to learn more about itself. The Tigers saw the second-largest city in the world and visited some of the sights.

The team raised the money for the trip, which started Aug. 16 and ended Saturday. The Tigers played six games against professional and amateur teams and went 3-2-1.

Sophomore forward Jennifer Nobis led the way with three goals, two in the final game against the Guarani amateur team. Junior forward Shea Swoboda scored two goals during the trip.

Coach Bryan Blitz was pleased with the trip.

“They’ve really sacrificed a lot over the summer . . . I think they saw that (hard work) does pay off,” Blitz said.

The team was able to spend some time at the beach, meet other players and watch a professional soccer game. The trip to the beach was a longer trip than expected; the bus broke down, and the Tigers were stuck in Sao Paulo traffic. Once there, the team had the beach practically to itself. Despite 85-degree temperatures and a sunny day, few people were around.

“It was kind of weird,” senior goalie Megan Duncan said. “I guess it is their winter.”

After the games, the Tigers had a chance to visit with the opposing teams. The Tigers gave away T-shirts and taught the Brazilian players how to eat sunflower seeds.

Earlier in the trip, the team watched a professional soccer game. The crowd was the amazing thing to senior forward Adriene Davis.

“They’re crazy; they sit there and chant the whole time,” Davis said. “It’s a lot different than (United States fans who) just cheer whenever it’s a goal.”

Along with having some time to relax, the players formed a better bond with one another.

“I think it brought us so much closer because we just had to be around each other 24 hours a day,” Duncan said.

The bonding experience also helped the team chemistry on the field.

“We know each other’s styles a lot better than any previous year,” Duncan said.

The fields in Brazil are bad compared with the fields in the United States. Most soccer fields in Brazil are dirt lots with goals at each end that have no netting. The field that the Tigers played on in Brazil was the best field that most of the opposing teams had played on.

“They were nowhere near as athletic as us, but they were so skilled just because of the fields they played on,” Duncan said.

The Tigers open the season Friday at Iowa. The home opener is Sunday against Northwestern.

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