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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

Allez les Bleus: Women’s Soccer Heads to France

<span class="photocreditinline"><a href="">MICHAEL BORENSTEIN</a></span><br />The women’s soccer team celebrates after claiming the NCAA regional title last year.
The women’s soccer team celebrates after claiming the NCAA regional title last year.

Even after a triumphant, whirlwind of a 2018 season, Middlebury Women’s Soccer has no plans of stopping now. In fact, they are more motivated than ever to protect their legacy, and will start with their training trip to France. 

This past soccer season proved that the Panthers can definitely hold their own against top D3 teams, going all the way to the NCAA Championship. It is clear that the program has promise for years to come, and the opportunity to train in France among soccer’s elite will take the team to the next level. 

France is set to host this year’s Women’s World Cup tournament — the ultimate hub of renowned soccer programs and players. “France is a hotbed of women’s soccer player development, and boasts one of the best national teams in the world,” said Coach Peter Kim, who played a large role in spearheading the trip.

“I took a professional development trip to Europe last year, and spent time in Lyon, Grenoble and Paris. There, I was hosted by some of the top professionals in the country, and they invited our team to play against them if we were able to travel to France,” he explained. “Our team takes a foreign trip every three years, and fortunately 2019 corresponded with the Women’s World Cup in France. Everything came together, including securing tickets to the opening match of the tournament – France hosting South Korea.”

The team will have the opportunity to play at least three matches while in France, with a fourth still to be announced. The first will be against Olympique Lyonnais, a team known for producing many of the top players in France. Coach Kim describes the league as “the premier women’s soccer club in the world, that has taken unparalleled steps toward creating equality between the women’s and men’s games.” Next, the Panthers will face FC38 Grenoble — a club in the French National Division – followed by a third against the French National Youth Academy’s U18 national team. This is also home to the training center for the women’s national pool and summer Olympic athletes.

Naturally, there is much excitement among players leading up to the trip. Sophomore goalie Sachi Howson described how this unique opportunity will benefit her and her teammates. “I have not really had much exposure to styles of play outside of the U.S. but I think it would be really valuable and beneficial to me as an individual player and us as a team to pull from all sorts of styles of play in order to advance our game.”

Excitement goes beyond the technical, soccer aspect of the trip, though. “I have never been to France (or continental Europe) so I am most excited about having the opportunity to experience the country’s culture,” said Howson. “I think that this trip will be a great bonding experience for all of us.” 

“We plan to take part in a community engagement activity as well, enhancing connections with the local areas we visit and giving back in some capacity,” added Kim, hoping to “connect with different cultures.”

To fund their trip, the team is asking for donations over MiddGoal, a philanthropy network that supports Middlebury athletes. If you would like to help make this a reality for our women’s soccer team, any contribution is greatly appreciated.