National women’s soccer team pays surprise visit to Carleton

National women’s soccer team pays surprise visit to Carleton

Christine Sinclair, a forward for the Canadian national women’s soccer team, speaks with a coach at the Ravens Perch in Ottawa, Ont. on Oct. 21. Team Canada trained at Carleton ahead of their exhibition game at TD Place. [Photo provided by the Carleton Ravens]

If you were lucky enough, you could’ve walked out of your classroom on Oct. 21 and seen an Olympic gold medalist. In fact, maybe even a whole team of gold medalists.

The Canadian national women’s soccer team was training at the Ravens Perch prior to their Celebration Tour exhibition game at TD Place on Oct. 23, their first game since defeating Sweden for the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in August.

The surprise visit came together the day before. A Team Canada assistant coach phoned Dom Oliveri, their former colleague and head coach of the Carleton women’s soccer team, around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday to request a place to train.

“I’ve worked with a lot of those players before [and] played against them in different scenarios,” Oliveri said after the Ravens’ 0-0 draw on Friday against the York University Lions. “It was fantastic just to have them on campus.”

Oliveri then reached out to Kwesi Loney, head coach of the Carleton men’s soccer team, and the two discussed what the national team would need for the session. The Ravens Perch was available and the two received approval for the session from Carleton Athletics management.

The session took place around 3 p.m. Thursday, just 18 hours after Oliveri first received the call.

Julianna Servello, a midfielder for the Ravens women’s soccer team, said the coaches couldn’t tell the team the training session was happening but she was lucky enough to stumble upon the practice.

“I just happened to be leaving and I saw the red jerseys,” Servello said. “I just walked over to check it out and I was like, ‘Oh wow, the national team [is] training!’”

Servello took pictures with Team Canada players, including Christine Sinclair, the all-time world leader in international goals for men’s or women’s soccer. In addition to her gold medal, Sinclair is also a two-time Olympic bronze medalist and has won the Canada Soccer Player of the Year award 14 times.

Julianna Servello (left) and Lauren Illman (right) take a photo with Christine Sinclair (centre) during Team Canada’s training session at the Ravens Perch on Oct. 21. [Photo provided by the Carleton Ravens]

Servello said Sinclair is her favourite player—especially since she’s Canadian.

“It was exciting,” Servello said. “[We’re] definitely fans. All the girls on the team were pretty excited to see the pictures after.”

Oliveri said the visit proves the calibre of Carleton’s facilities and those working in the soccer program.

The visit was also an opportunity for Ravens players to learn by example. While they were not allowed to watch the practice, Oliveri said some players saw Sinclair carry her gear out of the facility.

“It just shows no matter who you are, you’ve gotta do the little things to be successful as a team,” Oliveri said.

Servello said the team also watched Saturday’s 5-1 win over New Zealand at TD Place, Canada’s first game on home soil in over 29 months.

As for the visit, Loney said it was an “incredible experience meeting and engaging with the team.”

“It was truly inspiring to see and feel the energy of our Olympic gold medalists,” Loney said in an email to the Charlatan.

Featured image provided by the Carleton Ravens.

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