LAURINBURG — As part of its training for the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Qualifier Tournament, which begins Feb. 10, the Puerto Rican Women’s National Team will travel to North Carolina to play four friendly games.
The Puerto Rican soccer club will compete against St. Andrews University, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Winthrop University (S.C.) and a semi-pro team, the Charlotte Eagles, over the course of a week.
St. Andrews is set to welcome the women to campus Monday for a friendly match at 3:30 p.m.
“To have friendly games is always important,” said Carlos Advedissian, Technical Director of the Puerto Rican National Team. “We hope to gain as much as possible on these friendlies so that the team attains an adequate rhythm going into the tournament.”
Aaron Wood, head coach of the St. Andrews women’s program, said he is excited about the opportunity of hosting the Puerto Rican team.
“St. Andrews is thrilled to host the Federación Puertorriqueña de Fútbol, as they prepare for the Olympic Qualifier Tournament. The opportunity to play Puerto Rico and have them share our campus for the week is exciting for our players, students and campus community. We are honored that the FPF has chosen our university as their training camp and we look forward to a great event.”
St. Andrews plays in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and finished last season with a record of 10-8-3, advancing to the semifinals of the Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament.
Paul Cairney, UNCW’s coach, also expressed the school’s enthusiasm at hosting the visitors from Puerto Rico.
“Our young team is privileged and excited to compete against Puerto Rico,” he said. “It is not very often that an intercollegiate squad can play an international team and play on campus. We are thankful for this opportunity and we hope to give them a great warm-up game as they get ready for the Olympic qualifiers.”
The Puerto Rican squad will close their training camp by facing the Charlotte Eagles. The Eagles have competed in the United Soccer League Women’s Division for 16 years, earning 11 playoffs berths during that time span to go along with three finals appearances and one championship.
The Puerto Rican National Team, with athletes ranging in age from 18 to 27, will arrive to campus on Sunday and depart on Feb. 8.
After the preparatory games, Puerto Rico will travel to Dallas, Texas on Feb. 8 where they will fight for a spot in the Rio Olympics during Group A play. Their first game will be against Mexico on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. After that, they will face Costa Rica on Feb. 13 at 2:30 p.m. The Puerto Rican National Team will finish group play Feb. 15 when the women battle the United States at 9:30 p.m. All games will be played at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.