The men’s soccer team embarked on its first overnight road trip of the ’08 season last Thursday. With matchups against second-ranked Boston College and 12th-ranked Brown looming large, we departed Villanova at noon. Much to my chagrin, there were no Villanova soccer fans present to send us off in style.
The bus ride was fairly smooth despite the fact that it was six hours long. By six o’clock, we had arrived in Providence and checked into our extremely nice hotel, the Westin.
My roommate for the weekend, freshman goalkeeper Chris Bresnahan asked me, “Should I get used to traveling like this?”
“No,” I replied.
Soon after, the coaches handed out our meal stipend ($10) and Chris was quickly brought back to reality. At a local mall, we circled the food court looking for a cheap, yet healthy option, while the coaches humbly enjoyed their dinner at Fleming’s Steakhouse. I must say, I’m quite impressed with the coaches’ ability to stretch their $10 far enough to cover an expensive meal at an upscale restaurant.
After our meal, we returned to the hotel where we had a team meeting and a film session. By the time we were finished preparing for the next day’s match, 11 p.m. had rolled around, and it was time for bed. We were less than 24 hours away from facing the nation’s second-ranked squad.
We awoke the next morning at 8:30 am and immediately ate breakfast. At breakfast, we studied the scout packet that analyzed Boston College. Following breakfast we departed for a walkthrough. At the walkthrough, we went over our strategy for the upcoming match before reviewing our free kick plays. With the important business taken care of, it was now time for some fun.
There are a few fun games that Coach allows us to play in order to relax and enjoy the sport we work so hard at. One of these enjoyable games is horseshoes. In horseshoes, cones are placed 30 yards away from one another. At each cone stands one teammate. The object of the game is to stop the ball closer to the cone than your opponent. For the competition, I was teamed up with my fellow senior and four-year roommate Adam Brazitis. Challenging us were freshmen Eduardo Jimenez and Kevin Garcia. From the second the game started, school was in session as Brazitis and I showed the young guns what horseshoes is about. After relieving their early match jitters, the rookies stood tall and made a game out of it, only to be doomed in the late stages by a lack of poise. However, all of the credit must be heaped on the horseshoes juggernaut that is Brazitis and Taylor.
Following our session, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at a local Italian restaurant. After the lunch, we briefly returned to our hotel before heading to Brown’s campus for our 5 p.m. match with Boston College. The game was a back-and-forth affair with neither team able to take control. Unfortunately, Boston College found the back of the net late in the second half for what proved to be the game-winning goal. Our team was disgusted as we left the field. We had a golden opportunity to upend the No. 2 team in the country, and we let it slip away.
On Saturday, we returned to the practice field to prep for Sunday’s game with Brown. The training session was more intense than usual given the circumstances, as we all wanted to put the Boston College game behind us. Following practice, Coach gave us the rest of the day off. Actually, not everyone was able to enjoy his afternoon off, for the laundry had to be done. Farris Fakhoury and a selfless teammate who shall remain anonymous (okay, it was me), made a run to a local laundromat, battling the harsh conditions caused by Tropical Storm Hanna. Saturday night was low-key as the players chomped on pizza while the coaches went out for a seafood dinner (are we seeing a trend here?). The highlight of the night came when the Kansas City Chiefs checked into our hotel. Larry Johnson smoothly strolled through the lobby with four lovely ladies on his arm. Apparently the women weren’t aware that there were college soccer players in the hotel as well.
Our game on Sunday wasn’t until 2:30 p.m., which enabled us to catch some extra sleep. At breakfast, we watched film of Brown and read our scouts. Following the pre-game meal, we checked out of our hotel and headed to the field. We strived to put together a better effort than we produced against Brown, and we succeeded in doing so. We managed to muster up a whopping 19 shots; unfortunately, goals eluded us once more as we continued to fail in front of goal (I missed four shots), keeping Brown in the game. Our lack of poise in front of goal cursed us, as an opportunistic Brown broke through twice, giving them a 2-0 win.
Overall, the weekend was a disappointment as we suffered two hard losses. However, we hung tough and learned a great deal about ourselves from our weekend in Providence. Hopefully, these lessons will improve our team as we head toward the Big East season.
Joe Taylor is a senior communication major from Southampton, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]