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Gwynedd Mercy University's women's soccer team will be traveling across the pond this spring break for a bit of culture and some friendly competition. This will be the team's third trip to England but the first for this group, as the first two were in 2010 and 2014.
During their nine-day trip, the team will play friendly matches at St. Paul's Sports Ground in London (versus Millwall Ladies) and JMO Sports Park in Manchester (versus Blackburn Ladies). The team will also attend two professional "football" matches. The first pro match being held in one of the most famous and largest stadiums in the world - Wembley Stadium in London. The second pro match, a second leg Champions League game, between Manchester City and FC Basel (Switzerland). The Griffins will also take in all of the sights, with stops planned at Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Liverpool, the National Football Museum and tour ‘Field of Dreams’ Manchester United Stadium, just to name a few. The team will also attend the West End Show ‘Matilda’ in London.
There will be no need for a tour guide, as the Griffins' head coach Neil Johnson was born and raised in England. Coach Johnson is excited for his players to learn more about his roots and English and European football.
"This is the best place to play and watch soccer. Not only will it give them exposure to professional soccer in England, but it will be a jam-packed agenda filled with lots of sightseeing opportunities," Coach Johnson said.
Not only will it be the first time to England for most of the group, but for many, it's the first time out of the country. For Meghan Petroski, one of six seniors on the team, she is looking forward to the weeklong bonding experience.
“I am very excited to experience another country, its culture, site-seeing, and the atmosphere of a professional match. I am looking forward to and very grateful for this opportunity to play with my team and friends in another country,” Meghan said. “This experience is something that many do not get to do or get to say they do. I am excited that I get to say now I had the opportunity to play soccer and experience another country all at the same time. “
The Griffins finished the 2017 season with an 11-6-1 overall record, were 8-2-1 in conference play and reached the CSAC Semi-final.