the final stretch
The final three days of our trip to Argentina have arrived. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am beginning to smell the scents of my house once again. Although, the excitement to get home and see my husband and son continues to increase my pounding heart, I know that we have two more games here in Rosario, Argentina and before packing our bags, we must take care of business here. As the old slogan goes, ‘it’s how you finish that matters.’
The tournament has been a great learning experience for this fairly inexperienced USA Team. We have many players with few caps (international games) under their belt. Playing here, against the world’s top teams, has been a glimpse at what it’s like to be in this company game after game and not just play, but compete with the first, third, and fifth placed teams in the world.
We started off the four-nation tournament in Mendoza with a little dust on our sticks and nerves in our spines.After the first thirty-five minutes against Argentina, we had a nice eye-opening experience. We started the second half five goals down but finally began to play like we are capable of and finished the second half tied (of course, losing the game due to our poor first half performance).
The next two games were tough battles with Australia and Germany. Statistically, we outplayed our opponents but couldn’t find the back of the net. This reality sent us to the final game battling for third place. Our final game in western Argentina ended with a win and many smiles as we finally put goals in the back of the net and won in a stroke competition against a quality team, Germany.
The second phase of this trip sent us to Rosario. We have started the final four-nation tournament and so far the experience here has been wonderful. The accommodations are an A+ in my book. It is not too often that I find myself in the hotel spa for an hour massage or lounging by the rooftop pool in our off time. These little perks help to keep your mind at ease and balance during these team experiences. It can sometimes be hard to find time to yourself on tour. Most activities are spent with a group of 17 other women, all great and special in their own individual way. But like every humans, you need to find time to be alone.
My alone time has been spent on skype with my family or shopping in every kids store in town. I had to put an end to the gifts because last time I checked, Santa just visited 7 weeks ago and the next big holiday is not for many months. Looks like I might have to spoil Xavi…..just this one time J
Good night from Argentina! Game 7 tomorrow, USA vs. Australia.
Until next time,
farewell usa & hola Areentina
After a brief week in Virginia with my family, I am back on the road. Well, let me explain in more details because the phrase “on the road” is not accurate. I departed my house in the early morning hours on Sunday, February 6th. My husband, son and I drove 3 hours to Baltimore where we meet my parents for a lovely Maryland style brunch. After crab cakes and fish, we departed the local establishment and headed for the parking lot. This part of the transit was one of the most dreaded in my mind, saying good-bye to my baby boy.
My parents were watching over Xavi for the duration of my trip to Argentina, while my husband needed to return to Virginia to work. After ten minutes of transferring the car seat and all the necessary baby items, it was time to say farewell. I have learned over the years that fast departures are the best option, the least painful route. Of course, I always cried once I turned around to leave, but at least the event wasn’t prolonged like a bad dramatic film.
Inako and I buckled our seat beats and off to the airport we drove. I watched my parents enter the highway headed north and my eyes couldn’t help but fill with tears. My husband was sad to leave our son (and me, I like to think), but strong and realistic about the short two-week period.
The difficult moment was over and now we were moments away from check-in at LAN airways and the separation from my other half. This part was hard, but not emotional. We were used to being at a distance (we spent the first 5 years of our relationship in different cities) and have become comfortable with these moments. Although, it’s not the preferred scenario!
Nineteen hours and two meals later, I finally arrived in Mendoza, Argentina. I meet up with the rest of my team on a stopover flight in Santiago, Chile and have been with them ever since. Together again and this time, we have new challenges ahead.
We are scheduled to play four games in Mendoza and four games in Rosario. Each block of games represents a new tournament but with the same four teams. Here we will get an opportunity to play Argentina, German, and Australia; #1, #3, #5 in world rankings respectively. It will be the first time many of my teammates have had the chance to play these three countries. Big challenges await our team and I anxiously look forward to the opportunity.
Stay tuned for results and the latest happenings in sunny Argentina!
All the best,
Keli Smith Puzo is a two-time Olympic Field Hockey player, Wife to Inako Puzo, head coach at Miami University, Mother of two young boys and your everyday kind of gal trying to keep it all together.