Only two weeks after their tournament in Montreal, our women flew to Chicago for 3 days in order to compete in the Michael Lipov Memorial Cup X. On the menu this time: Chicago, the team we lost against in Nationals semi final last year (sigh), Houston Firehawks, a team we rarely played and Cal Heat, our best friends from the West Coast.
Friday, October 25th
Inaugural game of the tournament against the Firehawks and despite the (very) early flights for half of the team we are ready! BLUE van is packed and with our new BTH playlist blasting in the back, the girls are getting pumped. After a serious warm up on the full court (perks of being the first ones of the day) the game starts strong right away. Fast breaks are on point despite a Tom Brady being less accurate than usual, the defense is more efficient than in Montreal and our goalies Noelie and Julia are saving the few shots that pass by. At the end and defying all the social media prognostics, a solid victory 28-9 and a relief having the job done for the day. But, as we watch Chicago vs Cal Heat tying their game we know…tomorrow will be a tougher day and even our party beasts agree: tonight, we rest. Few victory boomerangs later and triceps warm up at the restaurant to impress our next opponent, time for bed.
Saturday, October 26th
First things first (after breakfast obviously), our game against Cal Heat. As expected the game is more even but thanks to a Robin on fire in attack with 11 goals (say what?!), a strong and attentive defense from our 5-1 and a solid Noelie, the gap starts to grow more and more. With a strong finish the +5 (22-17) is secured and BTH as two feet in the final! Mission accomplished. Lunch and well-deserved napping time to prepare for the next battle.
Second game of the day is against Chicago. We know this team from last year and their tendency of mess up with your head… Time to close your ears and shut your mouth then. The game is tight, very tight. They start by leading, we tie. They lead again, we tie. Then we lead, they tie etc… And for once, we stay strong! Noelia is scoring like crazy with her 12 goals (say what?! Bis repetita) both from the wing and in fast breaks, defense is present and the mental is there. Zizi even find the opportunity to take a player out for 2 minutes after playing the interference in the center circle and all of this with a smile. At the end a short yet tasty victory 21-23. In the meantime, Cal Heat won against Houston but fell short for 3 goals to access the final so we know we will be fighting against Chicago for the gold the next day. Another promising intense game…
After all those efforts, Chicago pizzas felt goooood! And it is under pouring rain and crazy wind gusts in the windy city (accurate right?) that the team fought one more battle to assist to a NBA game: Chicago Bulls vs Toronto Raptors. What an (American) show! Back to the hotel and while some went quietly to bed others (remember the party beasts?) decided to crash Cal Heat hotel room party.
Sunday, October 28th
Final day! You remember how we talked about the fact that defeat usually make you stronger in our Montreal recap? Well, this time, it played against us… For almost the entire first half, none of the team is really able to take a clear lead until the BTH women manage to secure their advance with few consecutive goals and a good defense. At half time, we are leading by 3 goals and are feeling confident. Words of the coach: this is a new game, 0-0. Maybe we took that the wrong way as in only the first 5 minutes, Chicago filled the gap due to our inefficiency in attack and some inattention mistakes in defense. On that, the rest of the second half went on the same way as the first one with no one securing the lead. A red card and few 2 minutes later and despite Nizza and Zizi strong defense on the wings and Rocio amazing lead in the center, Chicago managed to build up a 2 goals difference to never let it go. A final score of 29-27 left us with the second place. Oh well, lesson learned!
While Noelia and Kirsten were rushing for their plane (to unfortunately miss it), the rest of us were gathering trophies: Second place, MVP (Noelia) and Best Scorer (Noelia). Fortunately enough, we have another small blond person in the team, capable of impersonating our captain and fool the IHF President and the USATH CEO… Few touristic pictures later, an evening with a view on lake Michigan, some 90’s dance moves and delayed planes due to the 2nd bomb cyclone in Boston, the entire team made it back home safely. Our heads are full of memory, our hearts hungry for victory and when the time comes, we will be ready.