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.

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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.

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