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Santa Barbara Girls Soccer Team Makes Norway Cup Quarterfinals

When not overcoming cultural differences on the field, the Santa Barbara United 14-under soccer team finds time to take in the sights.

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Members of the Santa Barbara United 14-under girls soccer team, in Oslo for the Norway Cup, attended a professional soccer match between two of Norway’s best teams, Tromso and Oslo. (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, two players reflect on the team’s participation in the tournament and their sightseeing adventures. Continue to check Noozhawk and www.sb-united.com for team updates.]

In 800 A.D., the Norwegian Vikings paddled huge, intricately carved boats all over the world. We saw those boats Tuesday in the Viking Museum in Oslo. They are incredible carvings, rather dark and mysterious. The silk with their designs were more than 1,000 years old, which is hard for us to imagine.

Some of us also took a long walk in the morning to the Royal Castle where the King of Norway has lived for centuries, to the Oslo Harbor, to the Nobel Peace Center and along Karl Johan’s Gate, Oslo’s beautiful main street lined with trees and benches, shops and restaurants. It was fun to see people from so many countries and to hear so many different languages. 

At the Norway Cup field, we took our official team photo and cheered the Lillehammer team that some of our host “sisters” play on. It is so much fun to have friends here when we are this far from home.

We won our games Monday and Tuesday, 2-0 and 3-0, and Wednesday’s 8-0 win means we’re headed to the quarterfinals on Thursday with two games. If we win both, we are in the finals at 6 p.m. Friday, Oslo time.

We are playing pretty well, although sometimes the differences in Norwegian “futbol” and American soccer cause us a few problems, including:

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When not playing in the Norway Cup, Santa Barbara United players and their families are taking in the sights, including the Nobel Peace Center. (Gabe Rocha photo)
» The fields are shorter and wider, challenging our kicking strategies and positioning.

» The fact that we don’t understand Norwegian is a hardship because we can’t pick up the verbal cues about what they are going to do next.

» It’s hard to get the refs’ attention when our coaches want to substitute.

Monday night, we went to a professional soccer game between two of Norway’s best teams, Tromso and Oslo. The stadium was full and the fans cheer, chant and sing. It was really lively! Our goalie liked watching the two goalies. They were incredible. 

The best news of all is that we have had no injuries, we are all in good health, we’re getting along with one another and our team spirit is high. Go Santa Barbara United!

Katarina Rocha and Caroline Vance are Santa Barbara United players.

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