European Soccer Tour: Blog #4
Athletics - posted on 3/23/2010The Lakeland soccer program is spending its spring break on a 10-day European Soccer Tour in the United Kingdom.During the visit, members of the men's and women's soccer teams will compete against local soccer teams, visit tourist attractions and attend professional soccer games in and around London and Chester.Student-athletes from both teams will be blogging regularly throughout the trip. See below for their thoughts and observations from England.
We went to London for six hours of free time. Dave, our tour guide, suggested we watch the changing of the guard near Buckingham Palace. After a half hour of taking pictures of guards on horses and wondering about the significance of the unfolding event, we went off to see if we could see anything in foggy London town. Worthy site-seeing destinations are seemingly unlimited in London. Had we closed our eyes, pointed to a map of London, and visited wherever our index fingers landed, we would have likely been more than satisfied with the day's result. We headed for the Eye of London, the largest Ferris wheel in Europe that moves incredibly slowly (it takes thirty minutes to make it around), and therefore essentially serves as an observation tower. Before we reached the Eye, we snapped some pictures of Big Ben (which is actually the name of the bell inside of the clock, not the entire clock), Westminster Abbey, and Parliament. The Eye of London allowed us to see a telling portrait of London, and gave us an opportunity to take pictures with remarkable backgrounds. People split up from there, but not before a number of us were selected to take part in a street show that had us making a human table (Sam Schroeder, Troy Eichenberger, Jeremy Hardy, and Alex Piekarski being the framework) which was eventually capable of holding a small girl. From there, the groups split up, some taking a bus tour all the way to London Bridge, and others just mulling around the streets in search of the nearest Pizza Hut. I can say confidently that everyone would have loved to spend another day in London. Then again, if this were possible, I'd be saying that confidently for a while.
We traveled to Portsmouth to watch their Premier League team, Portsmouth FC, take on Hull City. It wasn't pouring, but the freezing temperature made it feel so. Before the game, we saw the famous Admiral Nelson's ships, the HMS Victory
and HMS Warrior
. The game was an experience that must have affected the entire group as the home and away crowds sang most of the game—some songs adhering to the Northern Athletics Conference's "Be Loud, Be Proud, Be Positive" slogan and others failing, only slightly, to do so. The game was played at the highest of levels. Hull City was winning 2-1 before Portsmouth leveled with a pinpoint free kick in the 88th minute and notched the go-ahead goal a minute later after an eye-opening solo run down the wing that set up a Portsmouth player, Nwankwo Kanu, on the six-yard box. Tour guide Dave said he believed that the support of the Portsmouth fans on that side of the stadium actually "sucked the ball into the net." Back at our hotel, Dave called a meeting where he put into words the close friendship that he saw developing between the group while we were in England. He urged us to work for our coach, Dave Madsen, a man whose persistence, before and during the trip, our team came to appreciate more than ever. He went on about what we've meant to him, saying that he would go to war with the players on our team. He was emotional, and so were we as team captain Adam Benson gave him a Lakeland banner after voicing similar sentiments on behalf of the team. This trip gave the entire team a soccer fever and, more importantly, a sense of how blessed we are to play the game.
- sophomore Danny Spatchek
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