By Andrea Camarena

Six thousand American soccer players traveled to Holland on July 20 for the International Youth Friendship Tournament. Among them, Exeter's Nicole Aldrich, 14, got her first taste of International Soccer and it was that of sweet victory on several levels.

Aldrich is no stranger to traveling to Europe. The incoming freshman at Exeter Union High School has participated in the People to People Ambassador program for two years now and just returned from her 10-day trip to Holland with a lot more soccer experience under her belt.

On her first day of competition, Aldrich, as a goalkeeper stopped three of four penalty kicks to place her team in an upperdivision bracket of the International Youth Friendship Tournament.

Her team consisted of 16 American girls of the same age who went up against teams from Holland and other European countries.

The team spent the first day in Amsterdam getting to know the other soccer players from America, Asia and Europe.

The teams then went through a few days of training and getting to know eachother.

The first day of play put the teams into brackets for the tournament. After that, each team went on to play 11 games in four days.

Aldrich has played soccer for the past four years and hopes to join the Monarch ranks this year at Exeter Union High School.

She is a defensive player and spent a lot of time in the keeper's box while in Holland.

The young Exeter athlete returned to the states with increased skills and a suitcase full of souvenirs and e-mail addresses from new friends across the globe.

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