New Brunswick, N.J. (April 3, 2013) – Former Rutgers women’s soccer standout Kristen Edmonds played for Rossiyanka in the Champions League, starting in two games against Wolfsburg.
Edmonds relayed her experience to Rutgers Athletics:
“The opportunity to play in Champions League, one of the biggest stages in soccer, was a dream come true. We played Wolfsburg from Germany, who is a very strong team. The predictions of both games were that we were supposed to lose badly, but we gave them a game in both legs.
In the first leg, in Germany, we went down 2-0 in the first 20 minutes. Everything was going wrong for Rossiyanka. Things got even worse when one of my teammates got a red card and we were down to 10 men with an hour left to play. We made it into the locker room with a 2-0 score line. The plan was to keep Wolfsburg from scoring any more goals because this was a reasonable task for us to come back in the second leg at home and come out on top.
The weather was just getting worse and the second half was played on a few layers of snow. Playing soccer was out of the question. It was more like do what you can and just fight. We came out in the second half on a mission, and managed to score a goal in the first two minutes. The weather had gotten so bad that you could not pass on the ground, run with the ball, sprint, cut, suddenly stop, or even see most of the time.
We fought to keep Wolfsburg from scoring in the second half with 10 men and we did just that. We came together as a team, and were happy with the result, 2-1.
For the second leg, we knew that our away goal was crucial, and a 1-0 victory would be good enough for us to move on to the semifinals. We were ready. We were focused. We came out strong, and our goalkeeper came up with some big saves.
We had one really good scoring opportunity, but could not capitalize on the chance. We went into halftime tied, 0-0. We had them right where we wanted them. The 60th minute came and it was like my world came crashing down. One little mistake and Wolfsburg capitalized.
Now the aggregate was 3-1 and we needed to score two goals to bring it into extra time. When that goal was scored, you could see that the wind was taken out of our sails. We were going to fight to the finish! We were forced to go forward and take more risks. We were getting tired, and gaps were opening. With less than 10 minutes left to play Wolfsburg put in another and shut the door on us. The whistle blew and the aggregate was 4-1. We were out, and Wolfsburg was through to the semi-finals.
I will never forget that feeling when I was walking off of that field. I felt so defeated and knocked down. I gave everything I had, and so did my teammates! We wanted it so badly, but we knew it would be a big task for us to move on.
Personally, I had a very strong first and second leg. I played on the left wing position. It is not easy playing on the left side because most players are right footed and are more comfortable going to their right, so I do not see the ball as much as I would if I was on the other side. I stayed very disciplined offensively and defensively. When I did get the ball I tried to make things happen. I had one shot in each game. In the second leg the keeper had to make a diving save to keep it out. I was pretty good 1v1 and was happy with my overall performance in each leg.
The experience was amazing! In Germany, we had about 3,000 fans and the stadium was amazing. We played in the Wolfsburg men's stadium. The environment was incredible. It was exactly what I see when I watch champions league games on TV. I never thought that one day, that would be me walking through the tunnel with thousands watching from all over the world. With Champions League over, we are picking ourselves back up and we are now focusing on the Russian League, as well as the cup. We can still end the season on a high note, and are hoping to qualify for Champions League next year and make it even farther. I love this team and am having a great time here in Russia.
I wouldn't trade this job in for anything. Being a professional athlete, living my dream, and traveling the world while doing it! There is nothing else I'd rather be doing. My dreams are coming true!”