Osborne's Adventures in Tobago

May 13, 2002

Last week, the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team qualified for the first-ever FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship in dominating fashion, thrashing Costa Rica 14-1. With the win, the Americans won Group B and earned the 12th and final spot in the first-ever world championship for youth women that will be held in Canada from Aug. 17 to Sept. 1, 2002. The draw for the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship will take place on Monday in Zurich, Switzerland, as the young Americans will find out if they will be placed in Victoria, Vancouver or Edmonton and who their three group opponents will be.

Bronco freshmen Leslie Osborne and Jessica Ballweg competed on the team, but Osborne seemed to create some memorable moments for her teammates. Every few days, a player from the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team sent out an e- postcard from Tobago, where the U.S. was playing in 2002 CONCACAF Under-19 Qualifying Tournament. On May 4, forward Megan Kakadelas wrote in part the following:

Hello from Tobago. Do you know how tough it is to actually get to Tobago? I had to fly from San Diego, to Houston, to Miami (where I stayed the night) to Trinidad and then to Tobago. That last flight was on a small propeller plane. I'm not going to say it was scary or anything, but one of our midfielders Lori Chalupny didn't say a word for the entire flight. She was sweating profusely and had white knuckles from grabbing onto the armrests so tightly. We hit a bit of turbulence on the way and I had to hold Leslie Osborne's hand to make sure she stayed calm. Me? I was so cool I could have landed that baby on a short, dark runway.

It rained yesterday for the first time and our training in the afternoon was very wet. It was the perfect time for our coaching staff to have "emergency goalkeeper" tryouts to pick a third goalkeeper from the field players on the team. Allison Graham, a midfielder by trade, tried out and if you've ever seen Ernie from Sesame Street play goalie, that was her. Graham is only 5-foot-3 and let's just say she had trouble with the high balls. On one shot, Leslie chipped her and we were like, "ooh Leslie, you chipped her." And she said, "How could you not?"

Just four days later, U.S. Soccer sent out another post card, this time from midfielder Annie Schefter. Once again, Osborne made the news:

While we were wading out into the surf at No Man's Island, a bunch of us saw some fins sticking out of the water about 30 yards from us. One of our midfielders Leslie Osborne freaked. She started running out of the water, screaming "Sharks! Sharks!" Well, they didn't look like shark fins to me (although I don't claim to be a Sharkologist), because those fish were kind of just floating out there. So we grabbed some masks and snorkels and swam out after them. As it turned out, they were more scared of us than Leslie was of them, which was pretty darn scared. Leslie's panic reminded me of the first time I met her and we all had to dance in front of the team in an initiation we call "Rookie Review." Leslie was called to go first and she started crying. When she saw the "sharks" it was like "Rookie Review" all over again. As it turns out, they were mullet fish. Last time I looked, mullets were not on the list of man-eating fish.

On May 7, the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team opened the 2002 CONCACAF U-19 Women's Qualifying Tournament with a deluge of goals, rolling past Suriname 15-0, in a match that was played in soggy conditions after a steady tropical storm drenched Dwight Yorke Stadium.

The victory over Suriname marked a historic night as the U-19s played in the first ever world championship qualifying match for a U.S. women's youth team and set a team record for goals in the process. Forward Kelly Wilson also set a team record for goals in a match, pounding in five, including a true hat trick in a 12-minute span between the 35th and 47th minutes. It was also the most goals ever scored by a U.S. Women's National Team in a full international match at any level.

The Americans down-shifted with 20 minutes left in the match as the rain stopped and the U.S. team possessed the ball to salt away the clock. Osborne owned the entire right side of the field during the match and had one goal to go with her three assists.

Two days later, the U.S. defeated Haiti 5-0, in its second match of the 2002 CONCACAF U-19 Women's Qualifying Tournament. Osborne left the game in the 33rd minute after she took a knock on the head early in the game. She was ruled out of the Costa Rica match for May 11 after suffering a mild concussion against Haiti when she took an elbow to the head early in the game. Osborne was woozy after the match, but was fine soon after and is experiencing no complications.