St. Thomas Women's Soccer head coach Sheila McGill and her assistant Julie Lundquist recently traveled to Seattle for a behind-the-scenes look at the United States Women's National Soccer Team's (USWNT) preparation sessions for the 2017 Tournament of Nations.
McGill – who's preparing for the start of her 11th season as UST head coach – made the trip with a small contingent that included Lundquist and St. Cloud State coach Gretta Arvesen. They were part of the Minnesota-based Women Impacting Soccer Excellence (W.I.S.E.), which Lundquist is co-founder.
The Minnesota group was invited to attend two U.S. National team training sessions, watch the 1-1 tie between Japan vs. Brazil, and witness Team USA battle Australia to a competitive 1-0 loss at Century Link Field.
McGill said U.S. National Team coach Jill Ellis spoke to her group and shared insights on a variety of topics, including practice drills, game preparation, lineup decisions and how she delegates tasks to a larger staff of assistants.
"It was a fantastic experience getting an up-close look at Jill Ellis and how she interacted with these highly-skilled athletes," McGill said. "She told us about her training sessions, what she was looking to accomplish. We got a glimpse of ways in a short time frame to take a team with some new pieces and bring it together quickly. She also explained to us why she was starting certain players. It was pretty interesting to learn her thought process after she shared her rationale."
McGill said another takeaway she had was how Ellis was looking to develop players and provide game experience, which the national coach believes will pay off in the pivotal 2018 contests. "As a college coach," she said. "it makes you think about how you develop young players, and how you approach the non-conference games from a lineup perspective."
SCSU's Arvesen added, "As coaches, we are always learning, and I'm grateful to have had this unique opportunity to learn from world-class coaches. The experience was educational and energizing. It reinforced the importance of being a great teammate, competing with respect, and having a real passion for the game."
2017 Season Near
McGill's Tommies, 17-3-1 last season, started fall camp last weekend in preparation for their Sept. 1 season-opening game against UW-Stevens Point.
Coming off back-to-back conference championships, St. Thomas graduated only two seniors and returns All-America forward and rising junior Mallory DeBoom (Career: 40 games, 17 goals, 11 assists); and rising senior Brielle Bierman (Career: 50 games, 15 goals, 11 assists).
Last year's team raced to a 17-1-1 start before losing a pair of 1-0 decisions in the postseason. The Toms outscored opponents 32-6, with a school-record 15 shutouts. McGill's recent teams have has improved from eight wins in 2014 to 12 in 2015 to 17 in 2016.