May 29, 2010
The Notre Dame men’s soccer team currently is on a two-week trip to Sweden and Denmark. Head coach Bobby Clark and certain members of the squad will be checking in with match reports and blogs from their adventures.
Read Greg Klazura’s latest blog entries …
Sunday started with a morning wake-up call, a hearty breakfast of toast and more toast, and a short-sharp practice. Soon after practice we were again whisked away to the Baltic Sea for our ice bath. It never ceases to amaze me how much Boss (head coach Bobby Clark) likes to call us sissies. We stand waist deep an shiver in one of Europe’s northern most seas while he and Coach (BJ) Craig stand in the water barely up to their ankles and cackle like hyenas. After an ice bath and a quick lunch back at Pensionat Maglarp we headed to Malmo…
Malmo is recognized as one of Sweden’s three Metropolises and is Sweden’s second largest city behind Stockholm. It is located on the southern tip of Sweden and it is separated from Copenhagen by a narrow strip of the Baltic, which can be crossed by a pretty spectacular suspension bridge. Malmo is an old city but is known for its contemporary art, scenic parks, large immigrant population, and its rules regarding public swimming pools, more on that later… The team was dropped off somewhere in downtown Malmo and told to meet back at the vans in three hours. My van, consisting mainly of seniors made the most of our time and managed to see Malmo’s most historic sites. We saw St. Peter’s Church, the old shopping district, the Malmo Opera House, a contemporary art and design museum, one of Malmo’s largest parks, and also the old castle. Everything was pretty neat but the castle was a bit of a disappointment. We were all expecting a large turreted castle similar to the Disney castle but instead we saw an old, red bricked, building that looked more like a run down prison. It turns out most of the original architecture had been destroyed in a fire some years back and that the once castle was a prison for a short time before it was turned into a museum. The highlight of the trip to the castle were the bighorn sheep roaming the grassy knoll next to fortress, junior Chris Sutton and goalie coach Vern Gingrich were later seen riding the sheep through the streets of Malmo.
All in all it was a great day at Malmo except that we did feel a little slighted. Malmo actually made it a city-wide law that women in public swimming pools do not have to wear tops. The team was curious and we made it our mission to observe this important aspect of Malmo culture. Boss, however, in his infinite wisdom decided to go to Malmo on the cloudiest day of the trip, preventing this important part of our Scandinavian immersion…thanks Boss. After a nice dinner in one of Malmo’s city squares we headed back to Maglarp to get some R and R.
Monday morning was supposed to start to with a team film session that was prevented by “technical difficulties.” My bet is that Jamie Clark was behind the malfunction. Jamie Clark, or should I say Benedict Arnold, is Boss’s son and used to be the assistant coach here at ND, currently he is the head coach at Harvard. Jaime allegedly came to do some recruiting and also scope out Scandinavia for a future Harvard trip. Jamie shared not only a room but also a bed with his pops during his stay. Personally, I think that he is scouting Scandinavia for players who can skirt around Harvard’s stringent academic requirements. I also know for a fact that he tried more than once to sabotage the ND program during his stay. First the film and later by putting sleeping pills in Boss’s tea before one of our long caravan journeys, nearly wiping out the senior class who rode in Boss’s van.
When the film did not cooperate we headed out to practice and came back in a few hours later after the kinks in the computer had been worked out. During the film session we were pleasantly surprised by Michael Thomas (MT), last year’s captain. MT is currently playing professionally in Sweden and the whole team was happy to see his smiling face. MT joined us for dinner that night and it was nice to have the old skipper back with the crew. Beth Hunter, the executive director of the monogram club, also arrived from South Bend on Monday and we were happy to have her as well. I think Aryelle Emison, the team manager, who has done great this whole spring was happiest to have her. Natalie Burke last year’s beloved manager was unable to come last minute so for the past week Aryelle has been the only girl amongst 28 other guys…I do not know how she has survived either.
That evening we headed to the Malmo for a Swedish first division game between Malmo and IF Brommapojk. The stadium was electric and the game was exciting, there were two red cards and three goals with Malmo winning 2-1. The best part of the trip, however, were the pre and post game antics. Doc decided not to attend the game so Bill Agnew, the team trainer, had to drive the stick-shift van, something that he made clear he was an expert at. Bill, however, stalled in traffic three times and once in one of those European round-a-bouts. Drivers honked and screamed at Bill while he panicked in the middle of Malmo traffic and began to scream expletives that the freshmen class had never heard before. Bill finally arrived at the game with the freshmen and out of frustration parked randomly in the grass close to the stadium. After the game he received his second parking ticket (the same thing happened a few days earlier) and explained that in America he would never have received a ticket…whatever you say Bill. Bill was not alone in his driving difficulties. The parking garage was a tight fit for the vans and Boss made that apparent when he hit the right front bumper against the side of the garage upon entering the lot. He stopped and tried to play it off as if nothing had happened but then a man came over and started screaming something in Swedish while Boss backed up and entered the garage a second time. The damage was minimal and Boss explained that it did not matter because we had insurance, which was very reassuring.
After the game senior defender Bilal Duckett found a hot dog on the ground. Anyone who knows our team knows that this discovery would soon be followed by some mischief. Duckett passed the weenie to fellow senior defender Greg Klazura who thought it would be a brilliant idea to put the hot dog in Boss’s pocket, it doesn’t take much to entertain us. Boss was walking with his hands in his pockets and Jeb Brovsky convinced Boss that we wanted to play a game of “Boss (Simon) Says.” Boss lit up with excitement and the team started playing Boss Says right outside Malmo Stadium as thousands of people streamed towards their cars. Numerous attempts to sneak the hot dog into his pocket were made as he moved is hands in the air during the game. They were all narrow misses and the entire team could not control their laughter any longer and the prank attempt was abandoned. Brovsky later went to plan B and successfully planted the dog in Bill Agnew’s pocket, who threw the hot dog in a fit of rage into the crowd only narrowing missing several innocent bystanders. We eventually made it home and hit the hay early in preparation for the next day’s game against Naestved in Denmark.
The team slept in until 9:30, ate breakfast, and headed out to the field for a stretch in preparation for the game later that evening. At 2 p.m. we headed for Naestved, and arrived a few hours later ready to take on our next opponent. We proceeded to the Naestved locker room and started to get ready for the game. The locker room at Naestved, like our previous games in Scandinavia, was extremely cramped and nothing like the team’s current plush locker room. The locker rooms have been tight much like the team’s old quarters in the JACC except for a couple of glaring differences. The small space is not nearly as frustrating as the bathroom situation. We nearly always have either 2 or 3 showerheads and the showers never have soap. There is also always and I mean always only one toilet. Although Scandinavia is known for being extremely progressive I am not convinced that their hygiene has kept pace. Needless to say our team has reached a level of familiarity that is almost too comfortable.
After the typical warm up the game started on the nicest field we had played on that trip. The only problem was that there was an extremely stiff wind that was blowing in Naestved’s favor. The Irish struggled and finished the half trailing 1-0. To add insult to injury Greg Klazura was nailed in the groin, and when I say groin I mean genitals, by a Naestved cross. Everyone stopped play out of concern for the beloved defender, reports of players laughing uncontrollably at Klazura’s misfortune are completely false. Apparently the only comment Boss had regarding the incident was that another trip to the Baltic was in order. Thankfully, the wind continued in the second half and we took full advantage. Jeb Brovksy roped a shot into the upper right corner 10 minutes into the first half and pounded home a header 10 minutes later off a whipped in cross from outside midfielder Michael Rose. Not more than 5 minutes later Rose whipped in another cross and Adam Mena sacrificed his body as he collided with the keeper and headed the ball back to Steven Perry who poked in the final goal of the match. The match ended with the Irish on top 3-1 despite their slow start. The Naestved side we played was mostly reserve players with several first team members on showcase. After the positive result the Irish grabbed some pizza from town and headed back to Maglarp to prepare for the next day’s game against Halmstad. Once again Coach Craig (BJ) struggled on the return trip, this time following the GPS directions religiously into an abandoned parking lot. This brought to mind another one of Boss’s favorite idioms, “we need to stay tuned in” or pay attention on the field. Perhaps whoever is riding with BJ (assistant coach BJ Craig) needs to adjust his frequency…
Wednesday morning brought the anticipation of our fourth game against the Halmstad BK reserves. The team practiced, took another dip in the Baltic, and hit the road for Halmstad some 2 hours north of Maglarp. Ryan Miller, a former right back and captain for the Irish, plays for Halmstad and lives with MT who is currently between clubs. We greeted MT and Miller at the Halmstad stadium and headed to the field. The half started slow but the Irish played well as the game wore on. The first half ended 0-0 but the Irish looked ready to strike at any moment. In the second half they did just that. Michael Knapp made a surging overlapping run from center back and crossed a ball into senior forward Andrew Luttrell. Luttrell was just about ready to slot one for the Irish when freshman midfielder, Bob Novak, ran in and stole the glory, poking the ball in just as Luttrell was about to score. Novak ripped his shirt off in jubilation and swung it over his head like a lasso. Although the celebration was slightly distasteful the 1-0 victory was a HUGEN TASTEN, well done Irish.
After the victory the team headed to Miller and MT’s favorite restaurant in Halmstad, Plaka, the meal was great and the team enjoyed a variety of dishes. If you are not an international culinary expert then you should learn that Sweden loves BÃƒÆ’Â©arnaise sauce. The next time you’re in Sweden be sure to order a dish with some, you won’t be disappointed.
All good things must come to an end and after the meal we loaded up the vans for our 2-hour journey home. If you haven’t figured it out already, the team spends a lot of time in the vans. Each van has their own unique way of keeping themselves entertained. Doc quizzes his van on body parts and infectious diseases. BJ makes his van map out complicated passing drills for future practices. Chad, instead of turning on the radio, forces his van to sing Taylor Swift songs. Apparently he brought little laminated booklets with Taylor Swift’s song lyrics in them just in case some one did not know the words. Boss, however, allows his van to entertain themselves as they please. He is too busy belting out Backstreet Boys hits such as “I Want it That Way” and “Backstreet’s Back” to care. He also makes a point of keeping his passengers awake by randomly jerking the van into the center of the lane. This maneuver simply helps keep the entire van “tuned in,” thanks Boss. Once again we arrived home late and were ready to retire after the long drive