Saturday was our second game with the National Team. This time, we slept in until breakfast and then jogged over to a nearby park for some stretching. Already, the heat was starting to build. Temperatures climbed past 90 degrees before we even got back to the hotel.
After stretching, we were free until our game at 7. We filled the time in a variety of ways; many of the guys headed back to the beach, now that they had mastered the tram system and could get there in minimal time. Several others went back to Queen Victoria Market and returned with plenty of gifts and souvenirs, including Australian Football apparel and boomerangs. A lot of other players just took the opportunity to rest up for what promised to be a demanding game.
Ultimately, the second game represented a huge step forward for our team. Temperatures finally cooled by the opening faceoff and the difference was evident. The Aussies surged ahead 4-1 in the first quarter but we responded well in the second to close the gap. Max Hjelm ’11 and Travis Gregory ’11 both had goals to keep us within reach.
In the second half, the defense really clamped down. We held them to only 2 shots in the 3rd quarter while the offense exploited multiple man up opportunities. Still, we entered the 4th quarter with a 4-goal deficit. We pulled within 2 goals with 3 minutes to go, but were caught by surprise by a wrinkle in the international rules. This helped the Aussies go up by 3, leading to a final score of 9-6.
Afterwards, we had a barbeque with the National Team. The food was excellent and very welcome after the long game (unlike NCAA games, international games are made up of 4 20 minute running time quarters.) We got to know a few of the players on the Sharks and our captains exchanged gear. Their captains gave a quick speech thanking us for the game, although most of us were already preparing for our final matchup the next day.