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Samantha McArdle, an incoming freshman at Homestead, was a member of the Indiana Olympic Development team that went to Germany this month for an a three-game, eight-day tour.

Soccer opens cultural door

Trip to Germany included games, great memories

Samantha McArdle left for Germany this month nervous – she was going to a new country as the youngest member of the Indiana Olympic Development Program team that would be making the trip for three games – but she came home ecstatic to have partaken in such a unique experience.

“It was great. It was a lot of fun,” said the 14-year-old McArdle, who will be a freshman at Homestead this fall.

“I liked going to see all the different sites, like the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate. I enjoyed playing, too. It was great to see how the Europeans play soccer and experience the different style. It was nice to get to know the girls on my team and all the girls on the trip.”

Just as the United States’ World Cup team learned in its 1-0 loss to Germany at the World Cup on Thursday, the Indiana ODP team found that Germans like to play a nearly flawless game of patient soccer.

“They were a lot more technical than we were, just had better technique,” McArdle said.

“And they played faster than we do.”

But in the three matches against the Berliners, McArdle’s team showed improvement, going from an 8-2 loss to a 3-all draw to a 3-1 victory.

McArdle played outside back in the games, a bit different from the center midfield position she played this year for the Fort Wayne Sport Club.

A couple of other Fort Wayne residents were on the Indiana ODP team: Kennedy Brough and Karsyn Kleinrichert.

They worked on building their cultural knowledge as much as their soccer skills in the eight-day trip.

“It was pretty even, the time we spent sightseeing and playing. We might have spent a little more time doing things other than playing soccer,” McArdle said.

That included socializing with the opposition.

“Most of them spoke pretty good English, but some couldn’t speak English,” McArdle said. “We hung out with them after two of the games. We ate lunch with them and went to a haunted house. After another game, we had a cookout.”

The experience may have prepared McArdle well for her upcoming high school career.

“I’m excited because a lot of the girls on the trip were older than I was and they were telling me how much fun it is to play high school soccer,” she said. “I can’t wait.”