Tuesday, December 25, 2012

FINAL THOUGHTS - AUSTRALIA TOUR 2012

Hello all,

We are officially home safe and sound with only minor mishaps to report (lost baggage, sweating from quick layover transitions, and the like). The fact that I am sitting in 25 degree weather currently makes the past 3 weeks even more surreal. It is nearly impossible to believe we were lying on the beach in Adelaide post-game just 36 hours ago.


Yet, here we are, at the end of this wonderful journey. First and foremost, I would be remiss not to express our deepest gratitude for the financial generosity from our parents, alums, friends, and fans. Without you, this trip would not have been possible, nor would it have been the remarkable adventure you have heard about each day via this blog. Kangaroo Island, dinners, and the Great Barrier Reef would not have happened without you- not to mention our groceries for dinner! We are so grateful that you all could give us the chance to experience Australia the way we did.

Overlooking Pennington Bay on Kangaroo Island.
As a lacrosse team, we benefited greatly from the extra practices and the quality of play demonstrated by the Australians. We feel like a seasoned team, a feeling that usually comes around mid-March. It will certainly give us the edge against our competitors in the Ivies as well as outside of our league. We have the Australian National Team to thank for giving us the glimpse of an attack style we do not normally see until out of conference games. I am confident that we learned more from this trip, playing them, then we could have from simply scrimmaging ourselves. We had to adjust to a new speed and style of play, which tested the versatility, resilience, and learning curve of our defense. In turn, their defensive style pushed our attack, and by the end, allowed us to feel more comfortable facing a high-pressure defense like those we had seen in the scrimmages this fall.

Off the field, we got to know each other, the kind of knowledge that comes with spending every waking moment together- and sharing beds. Finally being reunited as a team in Hanover was the best possible way to start this trip. The juniors reincorporated seamlessly and we are elated to have them back. Our adventures in Australia made us grow as people by facing our fears (birds for some, heights for others), by maturing as leaders, and by learning how to be the best teammates possible.

Highlights off the field included the Great Barrier Reef Trip. Copious sun, a boat deck to ourselves, and magnificent wild life stand out in particular to me. We enjoyed having the freedom to explore the city of Sydney and see its famous beaches, acclaimed Chinatown, and the zoo with the most active animals I have ever seen. Sydney, Cairns, and Adelaide all provided very different looks at the country/continent of Australia. Sydney seemed young, metropolitan and easy-going. I must say, I was totally jealous that Wally Cook '95, our very own alum, is living there. Cairns was much more of a tourist experience with activities galore, some of the funniest shopping, and an emphasis on exploration. And lastly, Adelaide seemed the most genuine- it did not scream tourism, but still had a bustling town and a very livable atmosphere. Maybe it was because we did what was most normal for us there- played lacrosse.

Making friends with local wallabys.
I am sad to have to look back on this trip because it means it is finally over. But, I would not trade that because that would mean forgetting the experiences we’ve had. Thank you coaches, for teaching us so much, for your patience with us, and most of all for looking out for us. We are all home in one piece sans jellyfish stings so at least we can take that burden off your shoulders! Thank you parents for giving us the permission, trust, and support to go on this trip. Thank you fans for your presence online, for following us through our Australian adventure step by step. Please continue to track our progress and accomplishment on the Dartmouth Sports Homepage, and via our Twitter and Facebook accounts.

All the best and happy holidays!
Courtney Bennett '13



Monday, December 24, 2012

Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oye Oye Oye!


Heading Back Home

I am starting this blog post sitting next to my ultimate flight buddy, Amy Drummond '14, as we prepare to take off for Sydney. She and I were also proud members of bungalow 109, and strategically stayed up as long as we could last night to get a head start on beating our jet lag (still deciding if that was a good idea as I am really struggling to function right now). We began our last night with the ambitious goal of finishing all of the food in our bungalow, which went surprisingly well. For all those uninformed, Australian portions are far from filling for us monstrous American eaters, so late night snacking was a common activity throughout the trip. We then somehow got our hands on an Australian DVD and were able to watch a movie, which promptly put all of us to sleep. The next morning, our plan seemed counter productive as we nodded off during the hour long wait to check our bags for our Qantas flight, but after a chocolate topped cappuccino I was back in action! Amy Drummond and I have shared an arm rest in every flight thus far on our trip except for the first flight from BOS to LAX. I'd say we are ideal flight buddies, and we better be as we're in it for the long haul right now. 

I'm sad to be leaving Adelaide. It has the most incredible mix of landscape and wildlife I've ever seen: the coast is covered in exotic beaches with beautiful turquoise water, then 100 yards inland is remote farmland with bubbly rolling hills and sheep grazing all around, yet still flying over head are are the most beautiful flocks of vibrantly colored parrots. It was definitely a sight to see. 

We are safely down in Sydney where we have a very short wait until our next flight. I could not be more genuinely excited for the 15+ hour flight ahead of us. Qantas deserves the prize for best airline if there is one. The flight attendants are so nice and even gave a few of us some funky Qantas pjs to wear on the plane! The movie selection could not be better, although this time around I'm making it my goal to stay awake for more than half of every movie I attempt to watch.

What do you know - flight buddies with Amy again! My strategic sleep plan begins now. We figure if we sleep for the first 8 or so hours of the flight to Dallas and stay awake for the rest we'll be on NYC time. With my inflatable neck pillow ready to go (thanks mom) I'm off to sleep!

Yes, slept for 8 hours - great success, although I somehow always manage to miss the food options. I woke up snug on Amy's shoulder. She seemed less comfortable, but hey, what are teammates for? Movie choice number 1 was Lord of the Rings, my all time favorite and a perfect follow up to my completion of The Hobbit (highly recommended). 

Two movies later and a quick power nap and we were in Dallas! We said our goodbyes with sad, goggle tanned faces (great look by the way) and all went our separate ways home. I'm now with the Fairfield county crew (Courtney Bennett '13, Hana Bowers '13, Liz Calby '14, Anjalie Christy '14 and who better than Amy Drummond). Just a few more hours until I'm home for Christmas! My siblings did a less than thoughtful job of keeping in touch with me over my travels so I'm bringing them back Vegemite (I've decided it is a close second to coal after trying it). We're in the home stretch now! Happy holidays to everyone and thanks for following us on our trip Down Under!

Sydney Ellis '15

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Game 3: Dartmouth vs. Australia

DARTMOUTH & AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL TEAM.


The Big Green’s third and final game vs. the Australian National Squad was by far the most physical and and successful for the visiting American team. Dartmouth had standout performances from Kristen Giovanniello ‘14 in net, Courtney Bennett ‘13 in the midfield and Liz Calby ‘14 and Lindsay Allard ‘14 on attack. Dartmouth’s efforts focused on winning draws paid off, as the Big Green was able to control the tempo and ball into their attacking end. Allard got the Green on the board first as she fired low and away a free position shot. Known for their physical and high pressure style of play, the Australians had previously been successful at disrupting our attack. This game however, thanks to film and strategy sessions with the coaches, we were ready for their pressure. Moving the ball quickly and decisively, Dartmouth put in two more goals in quick succession. Hana Bowers ‘13 utilizing her quick first step and sniper left hand shot buried a feed from Allard. Allard then withstood an onslaught of pressure and swinging sticks and was awarded another free position, which she put away. Sarah Byrne ‘15 and Anjalie Christie ‘14 were both set up perfectly by Liz Calby’s ‘14 pinpoint feeding, and Calby herself capitalized off a free position awarded after being fouled low on the crease. Senior captain Bowers rounded off the scoring for Dartmouth after being taken to the ground with a hard foul. Brushing the dirt and grass off and retrieving her goggles, Bowers composed herself, stepped to the line and placed the ball perfectly around the Aussie goalie in textbook fashion.

Once again Kristen Giovaniello '14 proved to be a force in cage against the Aussies, tallying 12 saves for the Big Green. Alongside a commanding defensive unit, Giovaniello made multiple key saves off fast break attempts and limited the opponents top threat to only one goal. In just three days of play in Adelaide, her stellar performances on the field totaled 35 saves against the world class Aussies.

With the score tied at half, the Australians stepped onto the field with a new squad to start the second. The Big Green started the half mentally tough and the teams exchanged goals for the first 15 minutes. Eventually, fresh legs and the increasing heat proved a little too much for the Green as the Aussies capitalized against our turnover in the midfield with the final score being 12-7.

At the end of our third and final match, we walked away with a feeling of pride in our program and even more confidence in one another. Throughout this week, we were tested, challenged by one of the best teams in the world, and we proved to ourselves just how strong we can be. To have gained so much in a short period of time, and with the 2013 season still ahead, this is exactly how we hoped to be feeling at the end of our trip. What a successful adventure it has been both on and off the field and we could not be more excited for February 23rd!


BOX SCORE:
GOALS: Allard (2), Bowers (2), Byrne (1), Calby (1), Christie (1)
ASSISTS: Calby (2), Allard (1)
SAVES: Giovanniello (12)
DRAW CONTROLS: Australia- 10, Dartmouth- 12

Final Day Down Under

Last night in Australia.

G’day from down under! This is Hana Bowers ’13 and Amy Drummond ’14 on our last day in Adelaide, South Australia. Wow. What a way to end this incredible journey in Australia. Coming off a hard week of practices and games, the team managed to finally achieve the goals we set for ourselves on the field. The team clearly ate their Wheaties this morning as we held the Aussies to a tie at the half, and the smallest goal differential of all three games. From the energy on the bench to the fight on the field, we left the game feeling proud of all our hard work over the past three weeks. Pulling out of the parking lot for the final time, our very own Anjalie Christie '14 heroically stopped a van from rolling towards a tree when there was a parking brake malfunction in one of the coaches vans. We were all amazed at her ability to translate her quickness on the field to those ninja reflexes on the streets! Needless to say, these cars down under are quite funky and everyone drives on the wrong side of the road. The rest of the day consisted of soaking in some finals rays on the beach in downtown Glenelg and shopping around for Christmas gifts one last time (And if you’re wondering…Yes, we know exactly what every relative of this team is getting for Christmas). In the beginning of the week, our two bungalows ran up the highest bill at the grocery store as the coaches shook their heads doubting that twelve girls could need four shopping carts full of food for one week. So, tonight our bungalows were faced with the delightful ‘task’ of consuming as much food as possible to prove to the coaches that every penny was well spent. We end our last day with the entire team huddled into one bungalow reminiscing about the amazing memories we have created over the past three weeks. Even though no food remains on our shelves and we are thousands of miles away from home, for this one night, there is no other place we would rather be. See you all so soon, and thank you again to all of our parents and alums who made this trip possible!

GBG!
Hana Bowers '13 & Amy Drummond '14

Taking On The Aussies Day 2

This morning, we awoke ready to tackle our last practice of the Australian tour. After polishing off the last of our bungalow's food, we met to review last night's game on film. It was extremely helpful for us all to review our play and see it from a different perspective. We left the film session eager to attack our next match and put in to action all that we had learned. Later on in the day, it was time to send a savvy shopper from each bungalow to the grocery store to restock our very empty cabinets. Between two-a-days and games, food has seemed to disappear faster than ever.

With only two days left in our trip, our shoppers had the tough task of purchasing the perfect amount of food, so as not to leave any leftovers. Just like an episode of "Supermarket Sweep," we were all running around the grocery store racing to fill our carts with the "just right" amount of food. After the shoppers returned home to many hungry stomachs, each bungalow refueled and relaxed. Julia Szafman '13 and bungalow 103 chose to watch an original Australian tv show "Shaun the sheep." Even though no one wanted to watch talking farm animals, we were all enjoying lying on the couch far too much to get up and find the remote. Meanwhile, Jaclyn Leto '16 and bungalow 100 opted for the inspirational movie "Invincible" to pump them up for the match coming up that night! After some quality movie time, we headed back to the fields, ready to take on the Aussies for a second time. After learning from the previous night's game, we came out flying and were able to hold the Aussies to only 6 goals in the first half.

After a hard fought competition, it was evident that we were able to accomplish many of our team goals we set for the game. We retreated to the bungalows, ready for another home cooked meal. As some began to cook dinner, others hurried to the beach to catch yet another beautiful Australian sunset. Following the sunset many of us ventured to Casey Griffin's '13 bungalow to capture the Christmas countdown photo, corresponding to her number and the number of days until Christmas which was 4. We chose to dress Casey up as Santa, having her hold chocolate chip cookies and a carton of milk.

With starving appetites, Julia and her bungalow headed back for a healthy dinner consisting of chicken, brown rice and asparagus. Tonight's dinner for Jaclyn's bungalow was more adventurous, making homemade pizza!  Bungalow 100 also decided on a toga- inspired theme for the evening. They have had many themes nights throughout the week, including beach night and formal wear night! After delicious homemade pizzas and festive toga outfits, we were headed to bed in anticipation of our final game and last full day in Australia! Can't believe such an amazing trip is coming to an end!

GO BIG GREEN!
Julia Szafman '13 and Jaclyn Leto '16

Sunset on West Beach outside our bungalows.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Game 2: Dartmouth vs. Australia

Game 2 vs the Australian National Team.

With the forecast calling for another beautiful and sunny day, our second game versus the Australians showcased a strong Big Green defensive unit with standout performances from goalkeeper Kristen Giovaniello '14 and Bailey Johnson '14. In the attacking end, our focus was to maintain possession and run through our plays, however a high pressure Aussie defense was determined to force us to goal.

Big Green goalkeeper Kristen Giovaniello '14 showcased poised and confidence throughout the entire 60-minute competition, causing multiple turnovers and scooping up numerous ground balls outside cage. Her play inside the cage proved to be just as stellar as she compiled 15 point-blank saves against some of the world's best players.

Anjalie Christie ‘14 got Dartmouth on the scoreboard first with a fast break, quick passing goal from Samantha Schiff ‘14. Ellie Clayton ‘13 tallied our second goal off a pinpoint pass from freshman Danielle Lisovicz ‘16. The Big Green’s third goal cut the Aussie lead in half when Bailey Johnson ‘14 intercepted a pass in our defensive end. Kelsey Johnson ‘13 and Liz Calby ‘14 then connected quickly through the midfield to get the ball finally into Christine Lushefski’s ‘15 hands for a textbook transition goal. Byrne, Lisovicz and Allard rounded out Dartmouth’s goals leading to a final score of 16-6 in favor of the Aussies.

Dartmouth will play a third and final match against the Australian National Team, Saturday at 10am.

BOX SCORE
GOALS: Allard (1), Byrne (1), Christie (1), Clayton (1), Lisovicz (1), Lushefski (1)
ASSISTS: Calby (2), Lisovicz (2), Bowers (1), Schiff (1)
SAVES: Giovanniello (15)
DRAW CONTROLS: Australia- 15, Dartmouth- 9 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Game 1: Dartmouth vs. Australia



Thursday, December 20, 2012
Another beautifully sunny day Adelaide set the stage for our first of three matches against the Australian National Team.  In the final stages of their World Cup selection process, the Aussies showed strong connection on the field as many of their current players are veteran World Cup participants.

The Big Green took the field for the 6pm game after a successful morning practice, shopping in town and a rousing "Secret Santa" team gift exchange.  With our game goals of executing what we've been practicing all week: different attack sets and new team defenses, we were eager to test it versus the Aussies.

Dartmouth opened the game decisively with Kelsey Johnson '13 firing a free position shot high right of the Aussie goalie.  Draw controls proved to be a real battle in favor of the Australian squad however, as Dartmouth did not get back on the scoreboard until Hana Bowers '13 found the net twice off a fast break and crease roll.  In the second half, Johnson again proved herself too much for the Aussie keepers and recorded two more goals.  Samantha Schiff '15, Sarah Byrne '15 and Liz Calby '14 also netted goals in the game, including a few absolutely beautiful assists and dodges around multiple defenders.

Kristen Giovanniello (KG) '14 saw heaps of shots in net for the Green. With a total of 11 incredible saves, KG along with Courtney Bennett '13 and Ellie Clayton '13 worked hard organizing the defensive unit. As part of our defensive focus was to mark up certain Australians, noteworthy past World Cup players such as Jen Adams and Hannah Neilsen, Bennett and Clayton were tasked with them.  Throughout the game, Bennett successfully held Neilson scoreless, while Ellie was pivotal in our midfield transition.

After halftime, the 12-2 score in favor of the Australians was too large of a deficit for Dartmouth to overcome.  The Big Green did make changes to start the second half and played at a much higher level, exchanging goals with the Aussies till time ran out. However, the Australians dominated the draw, 25-8, which had the Big Green playing defense most of the game.

Overall, the experience Dartmouth Lacrosse is gaining from playing against such a high level team will prove to be incredibly helpful as they embark on the 2013 season. With each game Dartmouth hopes to make adjustments to continue gaining confidence that will pay off at the end of February, when the 2013 season commences.

Game Day Down Under


After an adventurous day at Kangaroo Island, this morning we woke at 7:30am to return our focus to lax! We resumed our normal routine of having a hearty breakfast, seeing Nicole for pre-practice prep, braiding hair (it’s a necessity), and loading the vans by 8:45am. Everyone could feel the energy and excitement as we put on our equipment and began warm ups. However, this was no ordinary day of lacrosse. It was finally the day we would be playing the Australian National Team! After years of anticipation, training, and imagining about what this experience would be like, it was finally a tangible reality. At 9am we had a pregame practice before the first of three competitions against the Australians. The team took on each drill with intensity and focus. Defense looked unstoppable with their constant high pressure and unifying communication while attack looked sharp moving the ball quickly, anticipating, and making sharp cuts. Needless to say, after practice we were all confident and excited to take on the team in only 6 hours! 

We blasted tunes in Whit and Morgan’s van on the way back to the bungalows where we had turkey sandwiches, watermelon, pesto tortellini, pb&j (never gets old!) and other snacks. Let’s just say on the Dartmouth Women’s Lacrosse Team, you’re guaranteed to always find delicious, creative dishes at every meal. 

A large portion of the team returned to Glenelg after lunch for an hour of shopping around the cute beach town. Everyone was drooling over the creameries with homemade waffle bowls as the sweet smells wafted down the main street. However, many of us did get some authentic local Adelaide chocolates for later. We stopped in cute boutiques, stationary stores, touristy gift shops, and surf shacks. Compared to Sydney and Cairns, Glenelg had fewer chain stores, so it was much more common to find authentic Australian products. For the last minute shoppers, this was an opportunity to pick up last minute Secret Santa gifts for our exchange later in the afternoon.
Right after returning from town, we all gathered together for our team’s Secret Santa! This is an activity that our team does every year in Hanover, but this year we had the special opportunity to be together so close to Christmas and in a foreign country where gifts all promise to provide great memories. There was certainty a wide variety of gifts, ranging from usable items to ridiculously funny nicnacs. The more touristy gifts included kangaroo backpacks, Australian t-shirts and memorabilia. Other great gifts included the boomerang and picture frame (which was signed by the team) and given to our lovely chaperones Christine Anneberg and Anne Hudak! By far the funniest gifts were fly swatting safari hats given to Lindsey Allard ’14 and Christine.
Best-Hats-Ever.
Secret Santa gift exchange

After a fun afternoon of activities, we returned to the field at 5pm to begin our warm up. The high energy carried into the afternoon and pumped us up for our game. As customary to international competition, both teams walked out to the midfield where the Australians gave a verbal welcome and each player exchanged a token. We each gave a Dartmouth Lacrosse T-shirt and received in exchange a 2012 World Cup pen and Australian keychain. This trading of gifts signified the opening of the first of three games against the Australian National Team. 

After the game we had a quick wash up and headed to Stella’s Restaurant where we had delicious meals (thank you Mr. and Mrs. Calby!!).  The restaurant had big glass panes that looked out onto the ocean and a gorgeous sunset. It was perfect atmosphere and, as always, amazing conversation! 
We were all exhausted when we returned from our late dinner and returned to our bungalows to get a good nights rest before practice tomorrow morning. 

Anjalie Christie ’14 & Kristin Giovanniello ‘14