Portugal 2014: Day 8

Sorry for the delay! Here is an update on our final day in Portugal.

Day 8: Our last day really sprung up on us. After another 7 a.m. wake-up call, we headed down to breakfast with all of our equipment. After eating breakfast quickly, we boarded the buses by 7:30 so that we arrived at the athletic center in Cascais by 8 a.m. Because of the hard work we put in all week, our coaches cut down the practice to a 4o minute speed and agility session. Coach Walts was in prime form putting us through a hard work out. Then Coach Bathory surprised us by announcing that we would be going go-karting as a reward for the hard work we put in through out the week. We returned to the hotel for a quick shower then boarded the bus to head to our go-karting session.

IMG_1120

At the go-kart park we divided the group into freshmen and sophomores for the first race and juniors, seniors and coaches for the second race. Some of us showed some go-karting prowess (Jack Bodine, Coach Wilber, & Jordan Hitchcock) while others were just plain awful (Victor N’diaye, Eric Caliendo). After the dust cleared, Michael Classen took home first place in the first race while Jordan Hitchcock took home first place in the second race. It is worth noting that Coach Walts and Coach Bathory were struggling to keep up in the back, and Hunter Witmer, despite his politeness, did not bring his manners to the track with him, aggressively pursuing turns and leaving spun out go-karters in his wake.

IMG_1126          IMG_1123

The two races were packed with so much adrenaline we shared stories of the races the whole way into Lisbon. In Lisbon we visited a school for the hearing-impaired to once again spread the sport of the lacrosse. The kids at the school, ranging from about 6 to 18, were shy at first, but once we offered up our lacrosse sticks, they were very eager to give it a try. Mixing in with some of the guys, all the students got the hang of it very quickly. It got to the point where some of the students could even have a catch with each other and not us. It was very inspiring to see such enthusiasm for the game of lacrosse. It is exciting to think that one day lacrosse could become a popular sport among the Portuguese, and that we played a minor role in that growth.

IMG_1142

After spending an hour or so hanging out with some of the kids, who clearly didn’t want to go back to class, we headed back to our bus which took us into downtown Lisbon to meet up with Marta again, for a nighttime walking tour of Lisbon. Being the local she was, Marta took us on a tour through some of the back streets and, as she put it, “neighborhoody neighborhoods.” The nighttime tour was a great way for us to experience the culture of Lisbon through the eyes of a local. Stopping in local stores, slipping down quiet back streets, and capturing some great photos from the foot of the historic Lisbon castle, I can confidently say we got the authentic Lisbon experience.

IMG_1163          IMG_1161

The long day did not stop there. To close out our stay in Lisbon we ended the evening with a traditional Fado dinner (pronounced like “Fahdu”). Fado is a type of Portuguese folk music that dates back to the days of Portuguese explorers. Back in the 16th and 17th centuries many Portuguese explorers ventured westward to find new lands often leaving behind wives, children, and lovers. Fado music is characterized as love songs that those sailors or sailors’ wives would sing during the long months of separation. Fado, literally translated as “fate” or “destiny”, are often love songs that must be actively listened to. It is a sign of disrespect to talk during a fado performance because the audience must be actively accepting the emotion of the singers. Our fado dinner was a truly authentic Portuguese experience that very few of us will ever have the opportunity to experience again.

After dinner we returned to our hotel by midnight. Scheduled to leave at 5:45 a.m. to head to the airport the next day, most of us headed off to bed to get some sleep for the long travel day ahead.

Posted in Portugal | Comments Off

Portugal 2014: Day 7

It’s crazy to think that we’ve already had our last two days in Portugal!

Day 7: We set our alarms for 6:45 a.m. to be down at breakfast by 7. With a full day planned we needed the early start to fit everything in. Our new hotel (Hotel Inglaterra) is located in the town of Estoril, known by the locals as the Hollywood of Lisbon, just 20 minutes outside of downtown Lisbon.

After breakfast we took a short bus ride to a Portuguese athletic facility in Cascais (the next town over from Estoril) with a gym and an outdoor turf field to get a workout in as well as a short practice. We divided our team into two groups (offense & defense) and divided our time between the weight room and the turf field. Coach Walts put us through a circuit in the gym, while Coach Bathory and Coach Wilber worked us through stick drills on the turf.

After practice we headed back to the hotel briefly, where bagged lunches were waiting for us. Eating lunch on the go, we boarded the bus to head into downtown Lisbon for the afternoon.

Once we arrived we grabbed a quick bite on our own and were then met by our two tour guides, Marta and Sofia. The sophomores and juniors went with Marta, while the seniors and freshmen went with Sofia. From 2-5 p.m. we toured Lisbon on foot. A city unknown to most of us, Lisbon has a very detailed and complicated history. We learned all about the Portuguese explorers, the multiple fires and earthquakes that destroyed the city, as well as the Spanish and French occupations of Portugal. After taking the walking tour of Lisbon, we were all left with a greater knowledge of Portuguese history and the complications of being a nation that has so many different cultural influences. Touring St. Dominic church, the Alentejo palace, the Bairro Alto district, the Baixa Chiado district, and the Commercial Square, we can now say we are familiar with the historic city of Lisbon.

After the tour, we returned to our hotel for dinner and had free time for the rest of the night. Many of the guys walked deeper into the town of Estoril, while others hopped in taxis and ventured into the neighboring town of Cascais. With another early wake-up call the next day, we all turned in early to get our rest.

Posted in Portugal | Comments Off

Portugal 2014: Day 5 & 6

Hello again from Portugal!

Day 5: Today we had our finale with the English national team, scrimmaged the Spanish national team, and visited a Portuguese orphanage.

Scrimmage No. 3: With both teams gunning for the win, scrimmage No. 3 was the tightest game of the three. Both coaches positioned their teams to win in the final contest.

Similar to the last previous scrimmages, Haverford ran out to a quick lead. Going up 4-1 by the end of the first quarter (Clay, Greenberg, LoSardo, Dalke), the Fords “had [the English] reeling,” according to the English coach. The Haverford defense shut down the English offense early, opening up multiple odd-man transition opportunities for our offense.

Haverford did not stop there. Coming out fired up in the second quarter, the Fords pushed the lead to 7-3 (Bodine, LoSardo 2) by riding the stellar play of goalie Eric Caliendo who came up with multiple BIG saves on shots from close in.

Unfortunately the English took momentum back early in the second half. The English face-off man began to take command of the X igniting their five-goal run which put them up 8-7 midway through the third quarter. Trading goals with the English to end the third quarter (LoSardo), Haverford faced a 9-8 deficit entering the critical fourth quarter.

Early in the fourth, continued success at the face-off X, tall, rangy defensemen pushing transition, and a few crucial man-up opportunities allowed the English to put up four quick goals, extending their lead to 12-8 by the middle of the fourth quarter. Despite this punch in the gut, Haverford responded with two goals of its own (Burke, Clay) to force an adrenaline-packed end. Running out of time, the final whistled sounded with Haverford falling just short of a victory. The English pulled out the win 12-10, but we left the field proud of our hard fought battle. The English coach even made sure to stop by our huddle after the game to admit how impressed he was with our performance.

photo 1 (2)

Haverford & England gather for a photo after the game

Points (Goals, Assists): Clay (2,3), LoSardo (4,0), Bodine (1,3), Dalke (1,1), Greenberg (1,0), Burke (1,0), Stein (0,1), Geppert (0,1).

Notable defensive performances: PJ Jackson and Sommer Stein on ground balls and in transition, Hunter Witmer overcoming his ailing foot, Jordan Hitchcock and Chris Christensen staying disciplined on their midfield dodgers, and Eric Caliendo coming up with huge saves in the first half to open up our commanding lead.

After our scrimmage against the English, we had lunch brought to the field while the Spanish national team warmed up for our next scrimmage. With the Spanish program being as new as it is, we knew this scrimmage would be a great opportunity to work on our fundamentals and execute our offensive and defensive game plans.

Although the final score was very lopsided (18-0 in favor of Haverford), the Spanish fought hard and were excited to compete against American lacrosse players. Chase Williams, Chris Burke, Evan Dorman and Paul Hackett led the way in the scoring department, while James Washington, Michael Classen, Will Weissberg and Ben Kang held down the fort defensively. Overall, our scrimmage against the Spanish was a fun way to work out the kinks in our offense and defense while also spreading knowledge of the game of lacrosse to our Spanish counterparts.

We returned to the hotel after our morning scrimmages, had a few hours to shower and relax, then we boarded the bus by 3 p.m. to head off to a local Portuguese orphanage. Spending some time with 12 or so underprivileged Portuguese orphans playing soccer and teaching them about lacrosse was a great way to take our minds off competition and gave us a larger perspective on our time in Portugal. Despite the harsh language barrier, we and the Portuguese kids found a common language through the sport of lacrosse. Some kids impressed us with how quickly they picked it up after just 45 minutes! We left some Haverford gear, extra lacrosse sticks, and some Haverford souvenirs behind so that these kids would remember the time they shared with us.

Surprised by how much fun we had, the 34 of us boarded the bus to head back to our hotel. Given the rest of the night off, we enjoyed dinner at the hotel and a lot of the guys headed off to the local wifi cafes to catch some of the NFL playoff games.

With sore legs, a few too many bruises, and sweaty gear in our bags, we shift our focus away from the heavy lacrosse portion of our trip and switch to the cultural immersion portion of the trip. We leave for Lisbon on Monday to enjoy more of what the Portuguese culture has to offer.

Day 6 was spent traveling from Monte Gordo to the town of Faro, then on to Lisbon. No practice in the morning gave us a few extra hours of sleep, bumping back breakfast at our hotel to 8:30. Checking out of the hotel by 10 a.m., we departed Monte Gordo for the maritime town of Faro. There we spent two hours exploring the town’s historic cathedral, walking along its picturesque docks, and wandering the Centro for lunch on our own. A lot of guys weren’t adventurous enough to stray from McDonald’s while others explored the town to eat Portuguese pork dishes and Faro’s staple, whole-fish dishes.

Boarding the bus by 1:30 p.m., we headed for Lisbon. During our three hour bus ride from Faro to Lisbon we had fun bonding as a team. There was no lack of entertainment and spending three hours together trapped on a bus forces us to grow and bond together.

Arriving in Estoril, a small town just outside of Lisbon, we checked into our amazing hotel (infinity pool included) and grabbed a bite to eat for dinner. Excited to be back in Lisbon for the first time since we landed, we are all looking forward to heading into the city tomorrow to tour one of the oldest cities in the world.

Posted in Portugal | Comments Off

Portugal 2014: Day 3 & 4

The last two days have been full of competitive lacrosse.

Day 3: After getting a good night’s rest after all of our travel, we set our alarms early to arrive at breakfast by 7:30 a.m. A few eggs, some toast, and a few pieces of fruit later, we were on the bus headed to the practice field for our 9 a.m. practice.

Practice No. 2 began where practice No. 1 left off. We were pumped up all through practice, for later we would have our first crack at the English National Team. Improving off of the first practice, our stick skills were sharper, our coaches walked us through multiple plays, and we were beginning to conceptualize our game plan for the first scrimmage against the British.

Scrimmage No. 1 was an extremely competitive game. Our first opportunity to scrimmage another team in 2014, the scrimmage was fast-paced, aggressive, and with high intensity. Although we experienced a few injuries in the first two practices, all healthy players on the roster had the opportunity to step onto the field.

Coming out fast, Haverford quickly put up the first two goals of the game (from Andrew Dalke and Dan LoSardo). The quick start knocked our British counterparts back on their heels, realizing they would have to bring their best to pull out a victory. Despite the favorable start, the English team capitalized on their experienced roster and familiarity playing under the International FILA rules to pull ahead by four heading into halftime (6-2). Increasing their lead to seven by the end of the third quarter (9-2), the English side gave us our first spell of adversity in the 2014 season. Proud of the way our men responded, Coach Bathory and Coach Wilber made some savvy tactical changes that led us to outscore our opponents 4-3 in the final quarter, leading to a 12-6 final score. Running through our full roster allowed everyone to overcome some nerves, play in live action, and gain valuable experience. Given the fact that we were two practices into our season and outscored our opponents in the fourth quarter, we felt good coming out of the first scrimmage with the English.

After the game, we headed back to our hotel where we ate dinner, then explored the town with our three hours of free time. With a full slate of lacrosse the next day, we headed off to bed to rest up.

Day 4: We put in some hard work on day 4. Another 7:30 breakfast gone, we had our third practice session at 9 a.m. With our coaches focusing on our attention to detail, discipline, and conditioning, our third practice got off to a fast start. Coach Walts (our strength & conditioning coach), Coach Bathory, and Coach Wilber led us through a rigorous conditioning session. After working hard in the first half of practice, we turned our focus towards the “clinic” portion.

Together with the English team, we led a clinic for the Spanish and Portuguese teams. Our teams continued practicing as normal, but with the addition of the Spanish and Portuguese players into our drills. This was an incredibly valuable experience. Sharing an interest in the game of lacrosse, it was amazing for us to share this moment with our new Portuguese teammates. They brought a refreshing enthusiasm to the field that reminded us of how much fun this game can be. The lacrosse fraternity is generally a small and tight-knit community, however it was inspiring to witness the ways this game can bring people of different cultures closer together.

We returned to the hotel for bag lunches, and had two hours to rest up for our second scrimmage against the English.

Scrimmage No. 2 was a controlled scrimmage. With each half focusing on different aspects of the game (e.g. high pressure defense, zone defense, man-up penalties, etc.), both teams practiced overcoming different weaknesses. Rotating new players into the game every five minutes, our coaches experimented with different combinations of defensemen, attackmen, and midfield lines. As a result, all players had a significant amount of playing time and chemistry was beginning to form between certain players. Ben Miltenberg was working hard at the face-off X, PJ Jackson was pushing transition with speed, and Tav Hafner, Andrew Dalke, Jack Bodine, and Dan LoSardo were all raining the goalie with a wide variety of shots. The unfortunate result of 15-7, in favor of the English, exposed some of our weaknesses and tested us in aspects of the game outside of our comfort zone.

Despite this unfavorable result, we took a lot away from this scrimmage. By exposing some of our strengths and weaknesses (as well as theirs), we can alter our game plan in time for our winner-takes-all matchup tomorrow.

With two scrimmages behind us, we will put all of our energy towards the final scrimmage, where both teams will put their very best on the line to earn a victory.

photo

The Black Squirrels cooling off in the ocean after our second scrimmage

 

Posted in Portugal | Comments Off

Portugal 2014: Day 1 & 2

We have successfully made it to Portugal!

Day 1: The team met up with Coach Bathory, Coach Wilber, and Coach Walts at the Newark International Airport for our late afternoon flight. After waiting for some stragglers to arrive we checked our bags and headed for the security screening. Despite a few minor security set-backs all 34 of us made it to the gate and boarded our plane on time.

During the flight, our entertainment systems were down, so we had to improvise in amusing ourselves for the six hours to Lisbon. The fortunate ones slept their way to Lisbon, some pulled out their laptops for movies or iPhones to listen to music, and others caught up with the juniors (Jack Bodine, Geoff Geppert, Andrew Fenaroli, Will Weissberg and Brandon Boccellari) on their abroad escapades.

Day 2: We touched down in Lisbon at approximately 6 a.m. Before we knew it, we were on day 2 of our trip. After picking up our bags and maneuvering through customs, we met up with our Portuguese tour guide, Pedro, and a videographer who will be documenting our time in Portugal. Grabbing a quick breakfast, we boarded a coach bus headed for Monte Gordo.

Jet-lagged, most of the team spent the three-hour bus ride catching up on sleep. It wasn’t until freshmen PJ Jackson and Paul Hackett turned up the volume on their portable speakers, that the team woke up and looked out the window to see the ocean fast approaching. Weaving through the quiet streets of Monte Gordo, our bus finally pulled up to our ocean-front hotel.

20140109_105933

Excited to hit the field, we unloaded our bags quickly, explored the surrounding area for lunch, packed up, and headed to the field for the first practice of our 2014 season.

The first practice did not disappoint. From beginning to end the level of intensity was high, and the level of trash-talking was even higher. The coaches did not hold back, throwing us into full-speed drills off the bat. James Washington and Andrew Fenaroli brought the energy, Jack Bodine brought the vocals, and player-coach Nick Schoen had the goalies on their heels. From the looks of it, the Brits will have their hands full tomorrow.

Screen shot 2014-01-09 at 10.33.23 PM

Coach Walts stretching us out after Practice #1

After practice, despite curious glares from the locals, the full team sprinted into the ocean (video coming) to wash off the last 30+ hours and soak in the fact that we are finally here, and ready for whatever Portugal has in store for us.

Posted in Portugal | Comments Off

Portugal 2014: Pre-Departure

imgres

It is the eve of the Haverford Men’s Lacrosse 2014 trip to Portugal!

Tomorrow I will join 33 men who will board a red-eye flight from Newark, N.J., to embark on a nine-day, eight-night stay in Lisbon and Algarve, Portugal. While there, we will play the English, Spanish, and Portuguese national teams, stay in the scenic coastal town Algarve, and tour the historic city of Lisbon.

This trip is not just an opportunity for us to play competitive lacrosse and explore Portugal, but also a chance for us to grow and gel as a team. Traveling to Europe as a team is a chance of a lifetime. We look forward to taking in the sights, bonding in our downtime, and showing Europe what American lacrosse is all about.

Be sure to follow this blog to stay up-to-date on our trip!

6558410_origAlgarve, Portugal

Posted in Portugal | Comments Off

Men’s Lacrosse is going to Portugal

Christian Clay ’14 will be blogging for the men’s lacrosse team during their trip to Portugal, Jan. 8-14, 2014.

Posted in Portugal | Comments Off