Bermuda take on four American university sides in the next 11 days, starting tonight when they face Susquehanna University at the National Sports Centre.
The Pennsylvania school face Bermuda at 6pm tonight. The national side then take on fellow Division III sides Rochester, on Friday and Monday both at 6pm, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, on Sunday and next Tuesday, both at 6pm.
They then meet NCAA Division II school Shippensburg at 6pm on Saturday, August 19. In between games against Bermuda, the American universities will also be taking on mixed sides from the island.
Bermuda warmed up for their college clashes with two wins and a defeat against American high school sides. They beat Mount Abraham, from Vermont, 5-0. Maha Clarke scored twice, while Renee Greenslade, Tihanna Booth and Jen Chisnall also scored.
They then beat Staples, from Connecticut, 3-1, with goals from Booth, Jennifer Beech and Maya Palacio.
However, their final game, against a tough Sound Shore Tigers select team from Larchmont, New York, ended in a 1-0 defeat, with Bermuda punished by a defensive mistake early in the second half.
“They were definitely a dynamic team,” Bermuda forward Maya Palacio said of the Tigers after last week’s defeat. We played as tough as we could and we fought to the end, which I’m proud of, but our passes could have been stronger, our spacing could have been better, but we did the best that we could. The heat really got to us, but that shouldn’t be an issue.”
Palacio is expecting a different challenge from the college teams.
“We are definitely expecting a lot faster play,” she said. “Most of the high school girls are being recruited by Division I teams, so they get really great coaching experiences that we on this island don’t, but from the universities we hope to get harder games, harder passes to get our strength back up. We’ll expect a lot from them — quicker pace, harder hits, more dynamic set-ups from short corners and things like that.”
Palacio has been impressed with her team-mates’ progress, particularly from their forward play. “We have progressed as a unit, and improved with our attacking positions,” she said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a goal tonight, but we have scored a lot over the past few games.”