Diary of a Captain (TAYLOR): Successful trip west ends in victory, celebration

Joe Taylor

Ever since the ’08 schedule was released last spring, everyone involved with the men’s soccer team had Sept. 19 circled on their calendars. This particular evening not only represented our Big East opener, but it also handed us a shot at redemption. After being thoroughly outplayed by a talented and experienced West Virginia team in last year’s Big East playoffs, our team hungered for a rematch, and the conference obliged. We were heading to Morgantown for an important clash with the Mountaineers.

The bus departed West Campus at 5:30 a.m. on Sept. 18. After a series of short morning naps, most people were feeling pretty refreshed by midday, except for sophomore Chris Christian. Christian continued to sleep at every available opportunity. We had a 20-minute window between lunch and practice, so he slept. On our five-minute drive to West Virginia’s practice field, he slept. I think I even saw him catch some shuteye during a brief water break.

Our practice session that day was intense, yielding positive results. My teammates were buzzing around, and the energy was high. After the session, the coaches kindly brought us Subway sandwiches. For a change of pace, the coaches decided to feast with the peasants, as they too enjoyed a nice hoagie rather than their usual rib-eye steaks. (Note: The coaches always eat with us on the road; the Fleming’s trip at Brown was paid for by Brown University.)

After lunch and practice, we had a three-hour break, during which I’m pretty sure Christian took another nap. I was rooming with Philly’s finest, Jordi Griffith. As I studied my notes from my music class, Griffith furiously flicked through the channels on the TV, eventually settling on “The Nutty Professor,” a personal favorite of his. Before long, we were due back in the hotel meeting room, where we watched game tape of WVU before retiring to bed.

The next morning, we awoke and ate breakfast before heading off to West Virginia’s stadium for our game day walkthrough. At this point, we were all anxious for the forthcoming match. Shortly after the walkthrough, we headed for our pre-match meal at an Italian restaurant. (West Virginia is world famous for its Italian cuisine.) We arrived at the stadium a little after 5 p.m. After Head Coach Carlin’s rousing pre-game pep talk, he played a highlight tape from the first part of our season. The assistant coaches did a great job putting the film together, and the whole team was instantly pumped up. We excitedly exited the locker room and walked out to the field where we completed our warmup.

The game proved to be a wide-open affair, with West Virginia quickly looking to counter attack. Our defense was up to the task, though, holding strong for not only the first half but for the entire match, which included two 10-minute overtime periods. Unfortunately, we failed to convert on our many corner kicks, and the game ended in a 0-0 stalemate. We left the field feeling pleased with our effort but wishing we could have grabbed all three points. Following a quick shower, we headed to a post-game tailgate set up by the parents before heading to bed.

On Sept. 20, the coaches allowed us to catch up on some much needed sleep. After breakfast, we packed our bags and departed for Pittsburgh. There was a great debate about which movie we should watch on the ride. Most of the team voted on “Jackass 2,” much to the dismay of Christian, who desperately wanted to watch “Gladiator.” Since we were running a little behind schedule, the bus took us straight to Pittsburgh’s practice facility, where we prepared for Sunday’s game.

The next morning flew by, and we were soon involved in another tight match. We were moving the ball well as usual, but goals continued to allude us. Once again, the match remained tied after 90 minutes, which meant we were heading to overtime yet again. Thankfully, we found a winner at the start of the second overtime when senior Adam “Z” Brazitis smashed a free kick into the corner of the goal. “Z” took off on a dead sprint to the corner flag where the rest of the team mobbed him.

Needless to say, the bus ride to the airport was filled with celebration. Brazitis, who was riding high from his goal, led the team in a painful rendition of “Buy You a Drank” by T-Pain. “Z” may be an awesome defender, but the man can’t carry a tune. Luckily, Joseph “Sinatra” Taylor was there to bail out his fellow senior, as well as lead the team in a few more classic sing-a-longs, such as “I Want It That Way” and “Love in This Club.” Top marks go to junior class look-a-like duo Drew Heinold and Mike Seamon, who flawlessly carried out the “Superman” dance.

Overall, it was a successful weekend for our team. We played good soccer and had a lot of fun and we garnered four crucial Big East points that will help us contend for a title.


Joe Taylor is a senior communication major from Southampton, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].