The following is a letter from East Brunswick resident Phil Peterson. Peterson, who used to coach Heather O’Reilly during her East Brunswick Soccer Club days, is traveling in Great Britain with the O’Reilly clan to watch Heather play in the 2012 games.
When I last left you, the U.S. Women's soccer team had finished off their unblemished record in their group. After the match at Old Trafford in Manchester, we went for some dinner and then to the team hotel for a little while. Everyone was pretty tired from a long day, so after a short visit we headed back to prepare for the Wednesday morning train trip to Newcastle (site of the quarterfinal, where the team plays against Canada at 2:45 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6).
A little editorial needed here...the families & supporters of all these Olympic soccer teams should ALL get medals, for their frantic attempts to keep up with the logistics of traveling from city to city. Virtually all other athletes have their events in one location, but the soccer teams are all over the place. If the U.S. women had lost to North Korea, we would have been scrambling to get to Glasgow (Scotland) instead of Newcastle. With each succeeding trip, the suitcases get heavier and heavier from the accumulating souveniers!
We arrived to Newcastle early Wednesday afternoon, after a beautiful 2-hour train ride. Our hotel was right next to the station, so no taxis needed. Andy O'Reilly (Heather's dad) and I decided to make a "dry run" to the stadium 9 St. James Park...about a 15-minute walk from the hotel). As we arrived, a men's soccer match between Brazil and New Zealand was just starting. We got in for only 16 "quid" (about $25).
Friday's U.S. Women's quarterfinal match against New Zealand turned out to be much tougher than I would have figured. Despite the U.S. taking a 1-0 lead in the 1st half (thank you, Abby Wambach!), New Zealand had the better of the play. Heather came on as a substitute in the 2nd half, and really helped to keep the pressure on the Kiwi defense. The U.S. scored again, to gain a little breathing room and solidified a birth in the semifinal. Once again, after the match we went to the team hotel. Everyone hung around the lobby and bar area, watching the Great Britain-Canada match on TV. The winner of that match (Canada won 2-0) would be the U.S. opponent on Monday (Aug 6), once again back at Old Trafford in Manchester.
Heather and the others want so badly to get to London and play at Wembley Stadium for the Gold Medal. Aside from the match itself, the ladies would love to finally go to the Olympic Village after having traveled all around for these past 2 1/2 weeks. The big question is, who will Heather's husband cheer for in the semifinal? After all, he is a native of the Toronto area. I've got to believe he'll be wearing that O'Reilly No. 9 jersey for sure!
Don't forget to sign up for Heather's soccer camp, to be held at Heavenly Farms from Aug. 20 to Aug. 22 from 5 to 8 p.m. Open to players between 7 and 14, the cost is $155 and includes an Adidas soccer ball. To register, visit www.oreillysoccer.com. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 17 and space is limited.