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Members of the Santa Barbara United 14-under girls soccer team, in Oslo for the Norway Cup, celebrate after their 1-0 semifinal win against a Norwegian team. (Gabe Rocha photo)

[Editor’s Note: Santa Barbara United, a soccer organization of 12- to 14-year-old girls, is the only U.S. team to enter the world’s largest youth soccer tournament, the Norway Cup. Thirteen girls from Solvang, Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria are in Norway until Saturday. Here, three players reflect on the team’s participation in the tournament. Continue to check Noozhawk and for team updates.]

“Wow! We really did it. I knew we could, but I was so nervous. We are in the finals in the big stadium.”

“Did you ever think we would be in Norway playing in an international soccer tournament? We just have to play our game, take our time, pass the ball, trap and shoot.”

“Aren’t we lucky to have such determination and team spirit? And, I think we are playing really well, too.”

Quotes from our teammates describe our 1-0 semifinal win over a Norwegian team while celebrating with the now famous Norwegian “soft-is.” (The team won its quarterfinal game 2-0 against a Sweden team.)

The team is really happy to have come all this way, both in distance from home and in the tournament, and to have done so well.

There are 44 teams in our division. We shutout all our games even in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Amazing! We have played 10 soccer games in almost two weeks here: six in the tournament (five against Norwegian teams and one against Sweden) with one more, the Final, to go Friday. We have played four “friendlies,” or “Fair Play” gaes, as the Norwegians call them, two in Lillehammer in our first week in Norway, and Zimbabwe and Kenya here in Oslo.

This has been a truly international experience for us with all the different nationalities represented in the tournament as well as many languages we hear on the streets in Oslo and the kinds of dress. Everyone seems to play the same music though — American! 

Tomorrow we are going shopping before we go to the field to warm up. Most of us leave on Saturday and we want to bring home some souvenirs to show what Norway is all about — maybe a rosemaling plate, a cheese slicer, a Troll, a sweater or a Viking hat with horns, even some goat’s cheese. We have pictures and videos, too; thousands for all who want to see!

Cheer for us, Santa Barbara. Thanks, AYSO, for sponsoring us. Love to all our families and friends. We will see you soon.

Hannah Ball, Tiana Bonn and Erin Graff are Santa Barbara United players.