[Editor's note: He's back! Bud O'hara of the #5 Boston College Eagles (PCLL D1) will be blogging once again this year with MCLA Fan. Make sure to keep up with Bud and the Eagles as they take on the MCLA with one of the hardest schedules in Division 1.]
Huge three day, three-win swing for the Eagles this past weekend down below the Mason-Dixon at a surprisingly frigid Clemson University. I think we all (of Eagles Lax) were under the impression that once you move south of Philly the temperature doesn’t dip below 75. South Carolina has a Palmetto tree on its state flag, right? False advertising. It was cold, like, 19 degrees with a wind chill cold enough to make Boston’s seem friendly; like the kind of late afternoon wind that steals the life out of your extremities and focusing on anything other than survival becomes extraneous if you’re standing on the sideline. Well, maybe that’s hyperbole, but the valor of the Eagles during those three games should not be undermined.
We left the Bean on a Thursday afternoon; sophomore newcomer Trevor Reed was the last one to make the bus. I’ve been that guy before, but evidently, Reed was feeling the pressure of that early departure time (classes and other scholarly pursuits can make that tricky) and not only had to run to the bus, I think dropping his bag at least once on the way, but dude forgot his helmet. This is a kid who read the Atlantic going to Atlanta, and Scientific American on the return flight. Intelligence manifests itself in peculiar ways.
After a two-hour bus ride from the ATL to Clemson, us Eagles arrived at our weekend home – a Holiday Inn Express, over a mile from Clemson’s campus. The décor was modern, in that 1950’s bachelor pad flavor of décor, which was, agreeable? Continental breakfast too – with bacon and eggs and biscuits. We Eagles are fans of Southern Hospitality. But, this was a business trip, not a leisurely vacation to the backwoods of the first State to secede from the Union. I had to mention the hotel however, if only because of the commercials Holiday Inn Express used to run – you know, the ones where some ubiquitous white collar, white male does something unexpectedly awesome ala saving a nuclear power plant, winning a rap battle, you get the point, then declares that he had no qualifications for or association with the heroic task performed, but “stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night”. Well we stayed in a Holiday Inn Express all three nights prior to our victories, so I think there’s obviously some correlation there.
Anyway, to the meat of the weekend, now that I’ve trimmed past the fat. Game one, Friday night under the lights, in the meek shadows of the Clemson’s football Parthenon – Death Valley (that’s what the stadium is called, I think because someone on a stadium tour once left a rock there that they accidentally had in their backpack from the Death Valley in California) – versus the hometown Clemson Tigers. It wasn’t particularly cold that night, but the warmth of eager excitement, and the lusty scent of victory kept both teams warm and motivated. The first three quarters were a back and forth affair, and the scoreboard mirrored the action. Our first goal of the season was scored by team capital Alex Prostano, who just hours before the first face off was anointed by Coach Pat McCavanagh with a number 19 jersey to be worn with pride in memoriam of Coach’s BC teammate, Welles Crowther – a young man who left this world a hero, saving the lives of 12 people before the collapse of the Twin Towers. It was an apt start to a weekend that would come to be characterized by dedicated homage to our fallen brothers.
Goals were traded back and forth, and Clemson actually led by one at the half. A legal, but titanic hit by a Clemson d-guy on senior captain, Connor Tinquist, was all the inspiration the LaxEags needed to turn the game around. Tinq got concussed; it was instantly apparent. Clemson’s trainer ran over and asked Connor where he was, to which the attackman swiftly replied, “Bostachussetts…Get me the [expletive] out of here.” (Connor’s from Jersey, as am I, I understand the sentiment.) It was an unfortunate blow to both the team and for Connor, but games don’t end for injury, and we had to persevere. The helmetless Trevor Reed kindly escorted Tinky to the hospital; then we began our surge. Fourth quarter heroics put the game away. Even some new guys got behind the charge – freshman attackman Tom Stack came up huge with a ground ball to dip, dive and dunk maneuver. I can’t fail to mention that the D was outstanding, but even in our first game, that’s come to be expected of the group we have. Also, junior goalie Nick Shea stood on his head (still not sure how that sports adage functions – standing on your head seems counterproductive to stopping balls from passing into a net, but, whatever). No hard feelings after the game between the two teams, it was a hard fought battle by both sides.
Saturday was really the only game where the aforementioned weather was really worth noting. I know we didn’t like it, so I can’t imagine what the UCF players were feeling. This game was, I guess, akin to the Battle of Stalingrad, if I’m going to turn the weekend into a WWII analogy. It was cold, and there was climactic bloodshed (not really), and it was also the hump we needed to get over in order to prevail on the weekend. It was game that again came down to an early fourth quarter surge, followed by our team digging its talons in and hanging on for dear life. Two sophomores – Brent Van Fossan and Chris Knoth – who both had impressive weekends, kept the momentum rolling through the UCF game. Brent had four goals (just a few out of a big weekend) and “Scoops,” as Knoth has come to be known, played vigilant, shut-down D to keep the Knights seated at their round table. The defense was dominant all weekend in fact, never allowing more than 9 goals in a game and allowing only 5 total second half goals for the weekend. We’d like to imagine that we have one of the most skilled D-units in the MCLA, and so far, they’ve proved their resolve.
Our final tilt was set for Sunday against the Seminoles of Florida State, in Chamblee, GA – home of Dundywood High School, which is beginning its inaugural lax season this spring; Georgia lax fans heed the notice. This game was Operation Overlord – a hard fought final push to bring it home. My Freshman year we traveled down to Tallahassee (and got shuttled around by stretch Hummer limos, but that’s a story for another time kids) and suffered a heart breaking defeat courtesy of the Seminoles on Harkins field, which is conveniently located a juggling pin’s throw from FSU’s circus school (they really have one!!!). Revenge was certainly on the mind of all the Juniors and Seniors who played in that game. FSU was the highest ranked opponent we faced on the weekend and proved, again, to be the most difficult test.
The game was up-and-down, back-and-forth, and came down fittingly to not just a fourth quarter, but two overtimes. Junior attackman Michael “Prettyboy Soy” Sawyer (his diet is gluten free) shattered his wrist in the third quarter, sustaining the second major injury to the attack of the weekend. Setbacks aside, we Eagles turned to the #32 jersey that we now hang boldly on our sideline during each contest for inspiration. 32 was, among a few other numbers (he routinely lost jerseys), the number worn by our dear friend and teammate Michael Racanelli who tragically passed in the Fall. We fight each and every minute of each and every game for him, for the happiness that he brought to our lives, and so his legacy will endure triumphantly. On that blustery Sunday, I think we did our fallen friend justice. After one scoreless overtime, Alex Prostano came sweeping across the field, leaving defenders in his wake, and found Brent Van Fossan open on the crease, who then emphatically buried a shot, bar-down, to secure the win and seal the three-game streak. It was the perfect ending to a heart-racing, action packed lax weekend, and made for a very enjoyable few hours spent in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport. ¡Yo soy fiesta!
Next on the agenda: team takeover of the Plex weight-room for the next three weeks, equations and essays, PowerPoints on California girls to prepare for our next trip, and of course, lots of lacrosse. Next game will be in Orange, CA vs. Chapman. All in baby.