NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Whenever you can get a chance to play a sport with your country’s best and against the world’s best, you jump at the opportunity.
That is exactly what Lipscomb women’s soccer defender Carlotta Fennefoss did.
The freshman from Oslo, Norway, has played in eight games for her home country’s national team including the recently completed Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) European Under-19 Championships.
Fennefoss completed the first two weeks of preseason training with the Lady Bisons before jumping on a plane bound for Wales to compete in the tournament in August and early September.
Although Norway didn’t have the success that was hoped for in the tournament, Fennefoss does have a 5-3-0 record when suiting up for the Norwegians.
In the opening game of the championships Norway fell 5-0 to Germany. It was the only game Fennefoss has not started since joining the team.
“I only played in the second half,” Fennefoss said. “All of the goals came in the first half. It was kind of a shock to us but it got better in the second half.”
Playing against Finland in the second game, Norway fell 1-0 in a tightly contested game.
“We should have won that game,” Fennefoss said. “We had the ball most of the time with a lot of chances. They had one counterattack and that was their goal.
“The Finnish coach even said they got really lucky.”
In the third and final game in the group stage, Norway played against rival Sweden.
“Sweden is called our big brother,” Fennefoss said. “They had reign over us. So everything they do, we always come later according to them. To win against Sweden is a goal but we want to crush Sweden.”
Fennefoss and the Norwegian squad did just that in a 5-0 victory.
“It was great,” Fennefoss said. “If they would have won, they would have made the World Championships. Since we won, they didn’t.”
When asked how she became involved with the national team, Fennefoss grinned and just said it was a coincidence.
“They were going to play Sweden in a friendly game and one of the girls couldn’t go,” Fennefoss said. “My coach had talked to the national team coach about me and they just randomly called me and said ‘hey, one girl said she couldn’t come, do you have the opportunity to come’?”
It was a phone call she almost didn’t take.
“I was home sick and it was a random number,” Fennefoss said. “I didn’t want to take it. When I did answer it, and he asked, I answered with, yes, of course!”
She started the first game after having a strong training session, played in two friendly games and has been on the national team for just over a year now.
It wasn’t long before the national team became a reality that Fennefoss started thinking about coming to the United States to earn an education and play soccer collegiately.
“I made a promotional video and coach O’Brien was actually the first person to respond to the video,” Fennefoss said. “I talked to other universities as well. I did a lot of research and with talking to coach O’Brien, I made my decision. This was all before I was on the national team.”
The first time Fennefoss stepped foot on campus was to begin fall training for the Lady Bisons.
“The first impressions I had here were great,” Fennefoss said. “The team is so great. Everyone really helped me get settled in.”
As far as the differences in the way soccer is played, she said the training is different but with two systems that are similar she was able to quickly adapt.
“The training is really professional here,” Fennefoss said. “In game situations with the national team, I am really focused on the defensive work. Here, I can be more creative than I would on the national team.
“In Norway I have to follow really strict guidelines. Here, we have guidelines too, but you get to know the people and adjust to how everyone plays.”
The value that Carlotta has brought to the team has been immeasurable according to O’Brien.
“She has come in as a freshman and plays like a junior or senior,” O’Brien said. “She is a seasoned defender with great pace and understanding. There is not a striker that we have played against that has really taken advantage of her youth because of her maturity in the game.”
O’Brien credits her maturity to the vast experience she has received because she has played against top-level competition.
“I think coming from a strong Scandinavian country and a great national team set up along with having experience with the U19 and U20 national team, she has played against some of the best strikers in Europe,” O’Brien said.
A couple of moments that Fennefoss, who speaks four different languages, has had since coming to the US is speaking in the wrong language. Fennefoss can also speak in German, English and Spanish.
“When playing in a game and you want to say something, I talk in Norwegian,” Fennefoss said. “People ask what I am saying. I forget when I want to say something in the moment and it comes out Norwegian.”
She missed the first four games of the year due to the European Championships but has started every game and played nearly every minute since rejoining the Lady Bisons on the defensive line. She has helped Lipscomb to two shutouts since her return.
O’Brien has high praise for Carlotta as the season has continued.
“Her transition here has been seamless,” O’Brien said. “She has stepped right in and has been phenomenal. We wouldn’t be as competitive as we have been without her.
“She brings a professionalism and work ethic to our culture.”