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Penn State Men's Soccer Canadian Trip: Final Day

 

June 26, 2016

The Penn State men's soccer team has embarked on an eight-day trip to Canada where it will not only take part in international competition but also see the sites of the country. Through the student-athletes own words this blog will chronicle the trip on and off the field. The Nittany Lions left State College Saturday, June 18 to head to their first stop. The eighth blog of Penn State's day on Sunday, June 26th was written by Associate Head Coach Chad Duernberger, and Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Programming Sarah Cowart.

 

Day Nine (Sunday, June 26) - Final Match & Trip Back

 

Chad Duernberger - Associate Head Coach

 

This morning the players and staff had an early wakeup call at 6:45am to embark on our last day in Canada. The players were instructed to be at breakfast in the Residence Inn at 7am and the plan was to depart for our last match by 7:30. The match was about 45 minutes away so it took us a bit of time to navigate out of the city and find the complex. As a staff we were eager to see how the players would respond to four matches in such a short period of time. Would their legs hold up for this last match? Can they stay dialed in for this last one and finish the trip with a zero in the loss column?  For a 9 a.m. match, the weather was already very hot and the players had to deal with turf which is something we do not see often during the fall.

 

The match proved to be ours from the first whistle as six different players scored in the 7-0 win. We were pleased all the way around. It was a great performance from our backline, our midfield had excellent link-up play with our forwards, our number of final-third entries was the highest of the trip and players stepped up and finished their chances when given the opportunity.  The match made for an excellent end to the trip.

 

The players showered, the staff packed the vans with equipment and we were off on our venture back to State College around 11:45 a.m.  I had the van with all of the freshman guys (soon to be sophomores). Quick shout out to those guys for keeping me awake with music, questions, games, and great conversation.  After navigating back through the city and ready to get on the highway to hit the open road the worst thing happened for any road trip........backed up traffic.........The players covered more ground in the match over 90-minutes than we did on the pavement. Finally, we made it through and were on our way. Fortunately, everything was smooth getting back in to the states at the US Border and we stopped at a Chipotle to break up the trip. We arrived back at Rec Hall around 1 a.m. unloaded everything and the players were off. Some guys are starting Second Session Summer School on Wednesday and some were saying goodbyes to the staff and teammates until August.


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As the players left, the staff cleaned vans and dropped them back off to their respective locations. It's a bit different for staff on trips like these as compared to the players.  During the player's down time, the staff set off to get ahead for the next upcoming event. This includes doing player's laundry, filling up gas in the vans, finding where to take the team to eat, getting subway tickets, going to get more Gatorade, water and ice amongst 40 other small jobs that need to be done. There is limited downtime for the staff to ensure everything goes smooth.

However, during one of our few down time moments in Montreal, Coach Owen Griffith and I were able to sneak off and bungee jump off a 12 story drop. It was a great break in our staff duties before getting back to work.


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Sarah Cowart - Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Programming

 

First and foremost, it has been and honor and pleasure to be part of this Canadian trip with the guys. Without support from our Penn State Alumni, this trip would have never been possible. Being that my role with the team is an "off the field" role, this trip has allowed me an opportunity to spend time with the guys talking about more than just what classes are available next semester and what changes we need to make to their academic plan. Of course, with me tagging along, these conversations occurred often throughout the trip. Which was definitely a bonus for me! 

 

This trip has allowed the guys to see parts of North America that some of them would never have chance to see. Even though I have had my fair chance of seeing different parts of the world, Toronto and Montreal are two places I had yet to visit. Not to mention, although a former soccer player myself, I have seen soccer matches in the '96 Olympics and the 2015 Women's World Cup, but I had never been to a MLS match until this trip.


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In addition to experience the MLS matches, we also had the opportunity to take in the sites of old Montreal. The lovely cobble streets and old churches brought to life the history of Montreal. It was great to experience the culture of Quebec and learn more about the history of the 18th century fortified city. 


For our guys, being a collegiate student-athlete is much more than just competing in your sport and graduating. It is growing, learning, molding and developing over the four or five years at Penn State into the person that you will become for the rest of your life. This trip is just one example of the opportunities that contribute to this factor. It has been a phenomenal experience to see not only new sights of the world, but see our student-athletes experience new adventures that they will talk about for the rest of their lives. Thank you to our alumni for providing them (and us) this experience!

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