March 29, 2012
Greetings from Costa Rica!!!
Two and a half days into our Costa Rican adventure, and I am just now able to sit down and put my thoughts into words. Now, bear in mind, the sheer beauty of this country makes it extremely difficult for me to do it justice simply by words, but, here goes anyway.
After landing late on Saturday evening, we were greeted by our lovely hosts, and whisked off to our hotel in the vibrant city of San Jose. Unfortunately, we were subjected to Jeremy's "wow, it usually only takes me 20 minutes to get to San Jose" joke, at least 5 times on our trip. We were all keeping our fingers crossed that there weren't many more to come!!!
Great, healthy food, preceded a presentation by our hosts on an A to Z of everything we needed to know about Costa Rica. Then, with our first game coming up in less than 18 hours, we all turned in for the night.
A well needed rest after a full day of travel brought us to our 2pm kick off against Cartago, a team currently placed in fourth spot in the Costa Rican first division.
Arriving at the stadium was fantastic. Men, women and children mulled around everywhere and took turns staring as the boys stepped off the bus in their Cardinal polo's.
Cartago's ground is equipped to hold at least 10,000 fans, and has a moat between the fans and the pitch. It undeniably provided the guys with a different, and challenging environment, which we knew would be an invaluable experience for the future.
The first half was intense with both teams creating numerous chances in what was a really disciplined first 45. It was great to see the guys putting into practice a lot of the things Jeremy had been teaching them over the Winter quarter. Some great stops from Drew Hutchins in goal were matched by his opposite number in a half where Zach Batteer battled to create two wonderful chances for himself.
After a tight first half ending in zeros, the guys entered halftime with satisfaction at a good half which had been well played. The second half got under way, and as the minutes ticked away, the extra quality and fitness of the Cartago team began to show. Two quick goals preceeded a number of Cardinal changes, and a late third goal from Cartago completed the final scoreline of 3-0.
Overall, some invaluable lessons were learned, and, despite the loss, there were far more positives to take out of the game than negatives. Both the staff and the players realized that although there is work to be done, we did manage to both frustrate and create against a top Costa Rican professional team. We also were very aware that the boys were still feeling the effects of a very long day of travel.
At the close of the game both teams came together in the middle of the field where the captains of each team thanked their respective opponents, and, in turn, presented an opposing MVP. Hunter Gorskie did a wonderful job in his speech of thanking everyone involved with Cartago for the opportunity, and for making it such a memorable occasion.
That night we were treated to a traditional Costa Rican dinner. The food was amazing (Rice, beans, chicken, mixed veggies, fried plantains, salad--plus a pear flavored drink which was great too). Live traditional music accompanied the meal as we were treated to a glockenspiel double-act.
Once the dinner was done, our hosts, along with our musicians, set up the stage for musical chairs. Although whispers from the audience led the coaching staff to believe JJ Koval had the moves to win, ultimately Jimmy Callinan outmaneuvered everyone to take first prize.
Then, despite my ban from the dancefloor, after setting way too many on fire over the years, I was dragged on stage along with the rest of the coaching staff. Unfortunately, it only took me a few seconds to realize I stood no chance of winning when I saw Earl Koberlein's moves.....and that, my friends is the picture I will leave you with. Two days into the trip, a game under our belts, in an authentic Costa Rican restaurant, with a group of 27 people starting to come together.
Until next time.