On paper, there was no way we should have won the Swedish Cup final, 2-1 after extra time on Oct. 11. But as we received our bouquets of flowers and took photos with the championship trophy, Marta, Verónica Boquete, Caroline Seger, and an entire host of star players on Tyreso sat empty-handed on the other side of the field.
For 120 minutes, Kopparbergs/Goteborg weathered the storm of perhaps the best attack in the current world of women’s soccer. We spent stretches seeing little of the ball, held our breath as several close chances were squandered by our opponent, but remained disciplined and worked with one another.
The Svenska Cupen is a tournament that runs throughout the season and is open to women’s teams in all divisions. I only played in the semifinal, against LdB Malmo, a 2-1 win, and the final because I arrived halfway through the season. It wasn’t until after that game that I saw the English translation for the name of our team Facebook group, “lilla laget med enorma hjärtat.” It translates to “small team with enormous heart.”
We are a little team, literally. At one point, we were down to a 15-player roster before bringing back a couple former players out of retirement. We are close-knit, and we lack the stature — both in clout and actual body size — of some of our opponents. But we are a quality team. When I first arrived, my coach told me, “we look for players who can read the game and like to train.” I thought, that’s all well and good, but clearly that can’t be enough to form an elite team. But my club follows the same methodology as my personal philosophy — if the foundation is right, everything else will fall into place.
Don’t get me wrong, we have some talented players. But talent is not the main objective. We’ve won some big games, but winning is not the main objective either. We operate under the belief that if you do things the right way, and enjoy doing them, you have already succeeded. So at the end of the hard-fought Swedish Cup final, I believe that the better team won. I don’t claim that we are more talented than Tyreso, because no team in this league is. But our enormous heart took this little team to victory.
I’ve been asked several times who I think the top players in theDamallsvenskan (Swedish women’s league) are. I have been impressed by the quality of many of my opponents and teammates, although I still have not faced several of the teams. Below I’ve highlighted a few players in the league who have stood out to me for various reasons:
¶ Verónica Boquete of Spain played in W.P.S. for the Philadelphia Independence and now plays for Tyreso. Her movement and positioning always makes her dangerous, but I am especially impressed with her quickness with the ball at her feet.
¶ Kristin Hammarstrom is our starting goalkeeper at Kopparbergs/Goteborg. Her distribution and ability to save breakaways is perhaps the best I’ve ever seen from a female goalkeeper. I would be concerned about my spot as a center mid if she decided to play on the field!
¶ Ramona Bachmann is a Swiss forward for LdB Malmo. Both times we’ve faced this team, she has caused us problems with her speed and ability to run at players on the dribble.
¶ Nilla Fischer is a Swedish international who captains Linkoping and leads the team from the center of their back line. She is strong, good in the air, and made it almost impossible for us to create chances against her well-organized defense.
¶ Lori Chalupny joined AIK for the second half of the season. She is an American midfielder whom I know well from being teammates at the University of North Carolina. Lori always impresses me with her work rate and ability to dominate in both the attack and on defense.
The longer I play here, the more I am impressed by the level of talent and professionalism. So, as you can see, with all the incredible talent in this league, it really puts into perspective the honor of winning the Swedish Cup. That’s why I am especially proud to be a member of Kopparbergs/Goteborg, the “small team with enormous heart.”