The Rush Select Program concluded its series of European tours when the U15 Girls traveled to Germany May 10 - 17.
Brian Lux, Director of Rush Select and Head Coach of the U15 Girls, and John Salvatore, Rush International Business Adviser and head of Rush Tours, worked to schedule a slate of matches against the best Under-17 youth teams in Germany.
First up was SV Weinberg. Still recovering from travel and working through unfamiliarity with each other, the team conceded three goals in the first half. Taylor Becker (CA) earned a goal back off of a 40 yard free kick but sustained attacking pressure in the second half by Rush Select was not enough to level the score. SV Weinberg were exceptional hosts, holding a traditional dinner after the match for the Rush Select team and its supporters.
The next day, the team faced its most formidable challenge when it played FC Bayern München. With a training session under its belt, the Rush Select team put together a much more cohesive performance. Kaitlynn Knocke (WA) was a standout in goal, making a number of strong saves to hold the scoreline close. The match ended 2-0 to the home side but the team represented Rush Select and the players’ home clubs very well.
The team’s second training was hosted by SV Dornach and Knocke was led through a goalkeeper session by former Slovakian international Kristian Barbuscak, current professional coach for Jahn Regensburg.
After the session, the players and staff were treated to a question and answer session with current FC Bayern München player and American, Gina Lewandowski. Lewandowski spoke about her journey from a small Division I school to an almost decade-long professional career in Germany, during which she has won multiple Bundesliga championships.
“Gina’s story is great because she took a less than traditional route to her professional career,” assistant coach Lauren Meehan said. “The girls were so excited to speak with her and were inspired by her confidence to pursue a career overseas.”
Match play resumed against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, a team that is in contention to win the Junior Bundesliga title. As against Bayern, the Rush Select team was up for the challenge and had some early chances on goal. The match ended 0-0 and players and staff walked away satisfied with the challenge the match presented and the team’s response to it.
After taking in a Bundesliga match between FC Schalke 04 and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Rush Select played its final match against Eintracht Frankfurt. Rush Select dominated play for a large stretch of the game and ultimately finished with a 2-2 tie on goals from Peyton Fisher (WA) and Gilian Ortin (CA).
The trip concluded with a Frauen Bundesliga match between FFC Frankfurt and Bayer 04 Leverkusen, giving the players a chance to see some of the top women’s players in the world.
“This was an amazing soccer experience,” said Lux. “Personally, I never dreamed I would get to coach against Bayern, so that in and of itself made it. With regard to the players, we were certainly pushed and shown a different level of play than you see in the United States. This will make Rush Select continue to improve and every player will bring a lot of positives back to their home clubs.”