Natasha finishes her first season with top level football in the Netherlands and what a fantastic season it was as she overcame sooooo many challenges to have an incredible influence of the teams game results. Some of the challenges included exiting a 3 month house arrest lockdown in Spain to move to the Netherlands and a first week of training that included a mountain of old school running as well as a change of country, culture, climate, football styles, training styles, professional level training and so much more..... but there were two changes that required much more adaptation then she ever considered. One change was that the Dutch female players are much taller and much more solid structure than the Spanish players and therefore that makes training and games much more physical and the other is that the artificial grass pitches in the Netherlands are much softer than the hard Spanish pitches. This was very difficult and took Natasha many months to adapt especially after coming out of a 3 month lockdown.
While VV Alkmaar had a difficult season, Natasha's goal for the season was to adapt to top level football and to influence game results and she did that extremely well. In fact VV Alkmaar only won league or cup games when Natasha played. That is an entire season where the first team only won when Natasha played. That is amazing ? !!! While Natasha would have liked to play more games and did play in some losses the fact remains that the team only won their league and cup games when she played. See the above video for a more detailed analysis. An incredible season for Natasha and she will look to build further on influencing game results next season and now VV Alkmaar will always hold a special place in her heart.
Natasha scores her first goal in the Eredivisie League in only her second game as striker to help VV Alkmaar to their second win of the league over 5th place Heerenveen. Natasha constantly troubled the defence in scoring a goal taking several shots, keypasses and attacks as VV Alkmaar were cruising to a win before two late goals by Heerenveen meant that Alkmaar had to score a late goal to win 4-3.
Image by: Mike Schoonenberg Photograhy - https://mikeschoonenberg.com/
This was a difficult game for VV Alkmaar as they came up against the form team of the competition FC Twente who gave them an absolute masterclass in top level football. Natasha entered the game with alkmaar totally under the pump and the game already out of reach and while she had limited opportunities with the ball she added some energy and she still produced several positive plays.
VV Alkmaar went from their first win of the league last week to a very disappointing 1-4 defeat at the hands of ADO Den Haag in a performance they will want to improve very quickly as their next game is against FC Twente who are absolutely on fire. They have one week to fix many issues.
After a very good 89minutes last week Natasha played 10minutes at the end of this game, entering when the score was 0-4. While she didn't get many opportunities with the ball she still completed her passes at 100% forced some turnovers won a foul and did a nice short dribble with a penetrating forward pass.
Natasha's league debut resulted the first league win of the season for VV Alkmaar and a strong performance by Natasha as she constantly troubled the Excelsior defence with her penetrating dribbles and precise passing game. She provided numerous key passes and had several shots at goals as she played a key role in helping VV Alkmaar secure a very convincing win.
VV Alkmaar produced a solid but hard fought win over Excelsior to claim their first win of the season (4-3).
Natasha played approximately 30 minutes on the wing where she played a little in her junior football but hasn't played for many years now. She created a number of attacks and looked dangerous with the ball but it was great to see her open the burners and unleash that speed that she has spent years developing. Many people commented on just how fast she is and with more game time she will continue to terrorize defences with her speed and ball skills.
More snow then the locals have seen in decades has prevented this weeks game but another new and breathtaking experience for Natasha especially with the skating on the canals also happening thanks to the extremely cold conditions. The skating on the canals has not happened for 9 years so while the football has been delayed due to the extreme conditions it is a magnificent experience in its place for the weekend.
Below is the highlights reel for Natasha's first half of the season with VV Alkmaar. It has been a difficult season so far due to corona restrictions causing an interrupted and reduced game schedule and difficulties with video etc therefore these highlights come from only 6 games, however Natasha has made the most of it and made some quality plays and highlights including one of the best goals you will ever see. Enjoy!
Natasha played a friendly game, well friendly by name, against the Eredivisie Vrouwen leaders AFC Ajax. Ajax is loaded with international and top class players so it was a great opportunity for Natasha to experience playing against some of the best players in Holland. Natasha had a great game and really enjoyed the experience.
Alkmaar were very competitive and only just lost in what was a very good effort by the entire team.
Natasha played 90 minutes in this game, being the first game after the Christmas break for VV Alkmaar which was a friendly game against PEC Zwolle played at Zwolle. Natasha had a solid game looking very comfortable with the speed of the game and with the ball at her feet and creating a number of strong attacks. Overall a good game for Alkmaar as they played their best game of the season with a 1-4 win.
Natasha has made her debut for VV Alkmaar in an Eredivisie Cup game against Heerenveen. Natasha debuted in the second half and played 45 minutes in a game where her nerves clearly impacted on her play but also showing many positive signs with the potential that with more game time she can make a big contribution to the team.
A big thankyou to VV Alkmaar for the opportunity and to every coach, player, admin person and anyone who has contributed to Natasha's development. Now it is time for her to put her head down and keep working hard.
The coach gave the team a few days for additional recovery so Natasha did it the best way she could with a huge soaking bath full of muscle recovery bath salts but as usual she was still working on her game by watching the USA v Netherlands friendly game at the same time.
A great article by John Davidson in the SBS The World Game website gives a brief overview of Natasha's journey.
Read more ......
After being selected for the A team for the VV Alkmaar v Excelsior game on Friday night but spending the game on the bench, Natasha wanted to play on Saturday with the VV Alkmaar B team as she continues to develop a bond with the B team as well as the A team players. Aaaaannnnnnnddd yes they did it again!
While it was only a friendly and played for the most part in torrential rain Natasha again helped the B team to another win. This time it was a comfortable 1-3 win against the Excelsior B team with which they had a 3-3 draw in the first league game of the season.
The B team is now 3 wins from 4 games (all against league teams) with Natasha playing with them. It is no surprise then that they look like they are really enjoying their football.
We posted last week that Natasha had a great game to help VV Alkmaar B win their first league game of the season against PEC Zwolle. We have now had time to do the statistics on the first half of the game. We were unable to stat the second half of the game due to water on the camera making it impossible to see the game clearly.
She was 100% complete with her passing on both the left and right foot. She scored 1 goal from 1 shot at 100%. She had one assist and two key passes and won 45% of duels/intercepts. And that is for only half the game and you can watch the video in the previous post to see the amazing goal. It was as good as any goal you will see.
Natasha continues to find her form with a very impressive game for VV Alkmaar B. Natasha scored a cracking goal (see video), delivered a quality assist and provided several key passes along with a 100% completed passes to play a key role in a 2-3 win against PEC Zwolle B. Natasha was so impressive that the referee even commented on her performance after the game. This is the first win for the VV Alkmaar Club for the 2020-21 season. A great effort from the entire team for a well deserved and tough win.
Natasha sat out the game against Ajax where the young and nervous vv Alkmaar were given a masterclass by the more experienced Ajax team, losing 0-4. This turned out to be a fortunate situation as she had a stomach virus and felt unwell for 3 days but following that she played 3 games in 6 days. In the first game she played 50 minutes before succumbing to affects of the virus with cramping and tiredness. 3 days later played 45 minutes in a very physical game against the boys team and then 2 days later playing 90 minutes in the vv Alkmaar-B team where she helped them to a 0-2 victory against ADO Den Haag-B team. While she continues to adapt to the Dutch football it is clear that her pre-lockdown football and game awareness is returning with more game time at her preferred number 10 position.
The Eredivisie Women's Football League starting in just over a week and everyone is pumped!!!!
Another step forward as vv Alkmaar produced an very positive performance in this friendly game. They were too good for this team technically, tactically and physically as they controlled the game scoring a 7-0 victory.
Natasha was asked by the coach to bring back in that brilliant running game we know she has and WOW she did it brilliantly with several devastating runs and numerous key attacks. Another 2 or 3 games and she will be back to her best.
Natasha continues to build her form when vv Alkmaar played another friendly game as they continue towards the beginning of the Eredivise Vrouwen season. vv Alkmaar controlled the game from start to finish and ran away with a 3-1 win.
Natasha is showing good signs of improvement as she is reading the game better and adapting to the more physical Dutch game. She scored a fantastic goal which finished off a very high quality team play. She also played a key role in the first goal and created many other attacks as we now see clear signs of her regaining her pre-lockdown form.
Below are photos of Saturday's military style team building training session that included carrying poles, medicine balls, weighted containers and sandbags through the sand dunes followed by pushups and abdominal exercises neck deep in the ocean then a coordinated team task and finished with an 8km walk/run back to base in the dark carrying a weighted stretcher. A tiring session but completed by nearly everyone and they all should be very proud of themselves. Great effort vv Alkmaar.
After coronavirus imprisonment, changing country, stepping up a level and many other changes Natasha continues to work hard to regain her pre-corona football form but it has been very interesting to see how long it has taken. She still has a little bit of improvement left before we see her back to her full pre-corona form but from these highlights there are positive signs that everything is slowly coming back to her. With alot of pre-season friendlies before the season begins she will no doubt regain her form plus some.
In her first official friendly game for vv Alkmaar, Natasha recieved a welcoming to let her know that the Dutch ladies are very committed to their football. And when they are nearly all close to 6 ft tall, they hit Natasha in a sandwich and bounce her around like a ping-pong ball. Welcome Natasha, Enjoy!
A positive week of training completed with good performances in two friendly games as the team continues to work hard to develop that cohesion necessary to compete at the top level. The detraining that occurred during the coronavirus lockdown is having a bigger impact then everyone anticipated yet a well managed week has seen Natasha continue to adapt physically and her football continue to improve. While she still has alot of improvement remaining to get back to where she was before the lockdown her continued improvement this week is a very positive sign.
Team and individual photos were taken this week and can be seen on the clubs website: https://www.vvalkmaar.nl/vrouwen/selectie/#