osubeavers.com recently sat down with junior forward Jenna Richardson to discuss her experience playing for Team Canada at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Japan. Richardson's team won their first match in Group `C' play and she even scored a goal before her country bowed out of the tournament following its third and final contest. The Surrey, B.C. native started every match for the Canadians and wore No. 11 instead of her customary No. 3 she can be seen sporting out at Lorenz Field.
What was it like being part of such a prestigious event like the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup? "It is an irreplaceable memory and an experience that I never really thought I would be able to take part in, so being there was almost surreal. It makes me want to strive to possibly get to the 2015 World Cup (in Canada) with the senior team."
One of the highlights of the tournament for you was when you actually scored a goal in Canada's match with Norway... what did it feel like to be able to do that on such a big stage? "It was the best feeling because it was a bit of a tough start to that game and I personally believe that I could have scored two more goals. I got a great ball over top, took it down and went to the net. I felt very composed in front of the net, which is bizarre because in those situations it is hard to feel composed, so I just slotted it in from there."
What was it like playing against such great competition from all over the world? "The competition was at the highest level I've played at and that's with even playing at the previous U-20 World Cup. I think I grew as a player and learned so much from my teammates and my coach. He (Andrew Olivieri) is such a great coach and in games that I thought I was at a standstill, he showed me how to improve and to continuously strive for greatness. That has really stuck with me and I have mentioned it a couple times with this team (Oregon State).
How proud were you to put on your country's colors every match and represent Canada? "It gives you the shivers every time you walk out into that stadium and you're listening to your anthem while holding your teammate's hands. I am at a loss for words every time someone asks me that because it is a feeling I can't really describe."
What was it like playing in front of such large crowds at the tournament? "There were about 10,000 people there (at Fukushima Azuma Stadium) and they were there for Japan but they were cheering for Canada. They even made a huge sign that said `Welcome to Fukushima, Canada!' The adrenaline that you have when you play in front of such a large crowd is amazing because I never had it before, so it just made me want to perform. After I scored the goal against Norway, I thought, `huh, I wish I could play in front of crowds like this all the time.'"
What were you able to do and see off of the field while you were in Japan? "Everywhere I went I was surprised at how clean it was. It was actually a gorgeous country and I would honestly go back just to see more of the sights. We had Kobe beef in Kobe, which was delicious and having sushi in Japan was just awesome. The places I have been, I would have not been able to go to if it were not for soccer."
Were you able to follow the Beavers while you were in Japan, playing for Team Canada? "Every game... especially the Portland game I was following to a tee. I wanted my team to do well and I knew that they had just as many opportunities with or without me, so I was so proud that they were able to pull-off the wins that they did."
Now that you're back with the Beavers, you have picked up where you left off scoring two goals in two matches... how have you been able to become so comfortable so quick? "I truly feel like I have had more experience because of the World Cup. I can be more of a leader than I was comfortable being last year and I understand how things can get in your head. I know that Oregon State is a good team and we have so much potential, so I want to do whatever I can as a player to bring that potential out in everyone, including myself. I think it's very important to bring what I learned there (Japan) and bring it over here."
Since re-taking the field for the Beavers in 2012, Richardson has scored two goals in two matches and now is third for the team lead with four points. She also claimed sole possession of ninth place on the all-time program list for goals scored with 19.
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