Mariell Lundervold was having an awful day Jan. 6.
She plays for the Salmen girls soccer team, which was being beaten badly by Division II, District 6 rival Lakeshore. It seemed like there were “10 more players” on Lakeshore’s side, the Norwegian exchange student said. Nothing the senior defender did could stop the Titans attack.
Late in what turned out to be a 9-1 road loss, Lundervold watched a Lakeshore player kick a ball that inadvertently struck a Salmen teammate. That angered her, she said. So, a few minutes later, when the opportunity arose, Lundervold didn’t hesitate to play even closer defense when the same Lakeshore player came her way.
Finally, the pair went after the same ball, and Lundervold got kicked high. As players, coaches, and fans held their collective breath (hoping there would not be an altercation), the two players went after one another.
But the girls didn’t swing fists. They embraced one another.
Everyone on the sidelines and in the stands stood silently, awkwardly, not knowing what exactly was transpiring.
Turns out Lundervold’s temporary adversary was Lakeshore forward Line Aasen, a fellow Norwegian exchange student. They are members of the same Education First exchange program and had met a few times before the Division II, District 6 game at Lakeshore.
Neither knew the other played soccer, so when their eyes met on the field that day, only then did things fall into place.
“I didn’t know she played soccer at all,” Aasen said. “I knew she was 30 miles away but didn’t know which school. … At first I was running and she fell. I felt so bad, I went to help her up and then we realized what was happening. We were speaking English at first, then just Norwegian. They must have stopped the game for 10 minutes. Everyone was hugging and screaming. It was incredible.”
Lundervold agreed, but admitted she was “upset, big time,” when she found an opponent’s foot above her waist.
“(Everyone) thought she had hit me in the face,” Lundervold said. “It was (strong and good play), but then it was like, ‘Hey, I know you!’ I started screaming, (but she didn’t mean to do it).
“We were hugging and doing a happy dance on the field. No one knew what was going on.”
Both girls began playing soccer at an early age in Norway, and started speaking English when in second grade. Sports are not played in Norwegian schools, they said, so whatever knowledge they have of the game came from what would be considered a club or recreation league in the U.S.
Both said the game at home is quite similar to the one they have played in Norway. Lundervold hails from a small island of 4,000 people near Haugesund in western Norway. Aasen is from larger Tonsberg near the nation’s capital Oslo. Lundervold said the Norwegian game she knows is more team-oriented, while Aasen said she finds American play to be more tactical, than physical.
Both have been valuable assets to their high school teams here in the U.S. Aasen is part of one of the state’s best teams at Lakeshore. Lundervold scored the winning goal in Salmen’s only victory this season.
German exchange student Sophie Breidand also plays soccer at Salmen, and Lundervold said they are the “best of friends.” But that goes for Lundervold and Aasen, as well, though it may not have initially appeared the case on Jan. 6.
“We talked for probably an hour after the game,” Aasen said. “We’re planning to meet up again soon.”
Lundervold is looking forward to it.
“You meet people from (the exchange program) only a few times when you’re here, but you have a bond that will last forever. I know that with Line and Sophie, that bond will be forever too.”