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A two-week European trip featured five games against British teams and a chance to view the World Cup. For collegiate athletes, summer does not mean that the playing stops. Summer training is crucial for improved play during the season, and for many athletes, playing against international competition is one way to improve. This is especially true for sports that are more popular in other countries. With this thought in mind, the Penn field hockey team journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean for a European tour, which lasted from May 19 through June 2. The two-week voyage began with a 10-day, 5-game tour of England. The Quakers began the schedule of games in northern England, facing teams from the cities of Blackburn and York before making their way south to London. While the Red and Blue faced one university team during the trip, most of their games were against club teams. As the second most popular sport worldwide -- behind only soccer -- field hockey is taken very seriously by European clubs, who offer some of the best competition in the world. "We were overmatched," Penn coach Val Cloud said. "We were really challenged. The level of hockey was exceptional." After facing top club teams in England, the the 21-member group -- 18 players, two coaches and a trainer -- traveled south to Amsterdam to observe the World Cup of field hockey. "The highlight of the trip was spectating the World Cup," Cloud said. "It is the most prestigious field hockey event in the world, even beyond the Olympics." For the first time in history this year, the World Cups for both men and women were held at the same location. Several Quakers were in attendance to see the Australian women and Dutch men win World Cup titles. They also watched as the American women played in the seventh place game. The NCAA Rules Committee allows teams to make international trips at most once every four years, and this was the first European trip for the Penn field hockey team since 1988. Penn, which finished the 1997 season 10-8, with a 3-4 Ivy League record, believes the experience gained by playing top club teams and watching the World Cup will help it when the season begins in the fall. "Everything went really well," Cloud said. "It was a very positive experience." In addition to the field hockey experience, however, the Quakers gained more from this trip. "The most rewarding aspect of the trip was the bonding and interaction of the team away from the pressures of the season and school," Cloud said. When the fall season arrives, the Penn field hockey players will enter the season more experienced and knowledgeable. Two weeks of the summer -- and memories of their overseas competition -- will impact the team's entire season.

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