MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As March rolls around, most college students begin frantically searching for a suitcase and preparing to travel somewhere sunny and tropical with only one thing on their minds – spring break.
This is the time of year for students to relax and forget about the daily stress of quizzes and exams, allowing them to shift their focus to having some fun.
West Virginia women’s soccer player Bry McCarthy is packing her bags for a different kind of break, more of an adventure so to speak. She is leaving a week of fun and sun behind to train with the Canadian women’s national team.
An Ajax, Ontario, native, McCarthy will board a Rome-bound plane this afternoon for a training camp, hoping to impress her teammates and coaches.
“The last few weeks have been very interesting,” said McCarthy prior to leaving Morgantown last week. “Things have been very busy with being called in to train with the national team. It has been a juggling act but an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Canada, recently ranked sixth in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, is headed to Europe for a preparatory camp in advance of this summer’s 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany.
WVU’s McCarthy, the youngest of 22 players on Canada’s roster, is looking to retain her spot for the World Cup while going up against her country’s top players, many of whom she idolized growing up.
“Christine Sinclair is the without a doubt, the best player I have ever witnessed,” laughed McCarthy of her talented teammates. “She is really, really good and it’s just neat to be around her on and off the field.
“And there are players like Candace Chapman, Emily Zurrer and Carmelina Moscato; I’m playing with such skilled players that I have always admired. Competing at this level, and having some success with these players, is very fun and rewarding for me.”
Two weeks ago, McCarthy helped Canada bring home a trophy by winning the 2011 Cyprus Women's Cup in Greece. In the championship match, Canada knocked off the Netherlands, 2-1 in overtime, after defeating Scotland, Italy and England along the way.
McCarthy logged 35 minutes off the bench against Italy, allowing her to showcase her skill set in Canada’s 1-0 shutout.
“It was exciting because I almost got an assist a few minutes into the game,” said McCarthy of the international competition.
“It was a very intense game and the coaches wanted to see how I would fare in that type of situation. Italy was playing a little dirty and I had to adjust, learn to play though it and not be scared.”
McCarthy’s success on the field has blossomed behind a critical self analysis and acceptance of her role on the team.
“It’s always exciting because there is a sense of pride to play for your country,” said McCarthy of balancing the international game while in college. “Collegiate soccer and international soccer are very different though.
“It’s important for me to work hard each day and try to improve my game. I just want to excel in the role I am asked to play by my coaches.”
McCarthy’s role included a trial-period at a new position last month with a 20-minute performance in a 2-1 exhibition win over South Korea.
“I have never really played midfield and was kind of learning the position that week,” acknowledged McCarthy of her tussle away from the back line. “The team had already been together in camp so I had to learn the system on the fly.
“I really struggled to pick things up in such a short amount of time and I think they saw that. Then they realized that I am more of a wing-type of player (and moved me to outside back).”
A seven-hour time difference in Greece also forced McCarthy to adjust.
“Flying across the country and jumping right into the team’s schedule was crazy,” smiled McCarthy. “I had schoolwork to do over there in my downtime and didn’t get much sleep. Then, I fly back here to the states and have to adjust all over again while preparing for mid-terms, lifting and training.
“I’m pushing my body and my mind pretty hard.”
The upcoming week in Rome marks the final training camp for McCarthy before Canada’s full-time World Cup preparations begin in May.
When McCarthy returns to Morgantown, she’ll pick up right where she left off – finishing the Mountaineer academic semester while competing in WVU’s remaining four spring matches.
“It’s one journey after another,” said McCarthy. “But I’m doing it because I love the game.”
Bry McCarthy, 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, Team Canada
Gymnastics: ISU/GW Postmeet
Bob Huggins: TCU Postgame
Jevon Carter: TCU Postgame
United Bank Playbook: TCU
Women's Basketball: Kansas Preview
Bob Huggins: TCU Preview