Thursday, 7 June 2012

Putting a Win on the Board

Like any athlete who plays a competitive team sport I hate losing.  I'd say I hate losing more than anyone I know and after dropping our first two games since my arrival I was very hungry for my first win with the Woodville Warriors.  Last Saturday we got the win I was looking for, a 15-7 victory over North Adelaide which improved our record to 2-5.  Lacrosse may be the most important sport in the world when it comes to obtaining momentum.  It is important on the field throughout a game but after a team gets a big win, it gains the motivation to work harder and the confidence to add more wins to the record.  This is especially relevant as N. Adelaide is one of those teams that it feels great to beat.

I've played a lot of chippy teams in my career but N. Adelaide ranks in the top three for poor sportsmanship.  This surprised me as West Torrens and Glenelg, the two previous teams we played, were reserved and very respectful.  I was warned prior to the contest by my teammates that N. Adelaide can get unnecessarily aggressive, especially when they're losing.  The game started with some back and forth goals and we Americans learned very quickly that our teammates were telling the truth.  A lot of their players slashed when the umpires (umpire is a more common term than referee in Australia) weren't looking and they certainly talked a lot of smack. Nothing pleases me more than playing teams like that because they just make you want to beat them that much more.

At one point a player on their team started a scuffle with Fish, one of our attackmen and a few  punches were thrown.  Despite all this I love how our team responded; by dishing the pain back at them in a classy fashion.  The more they talked and took cheap shots, the more we wanted to pound them into submission on the scoreboard.  We poured it on them, especially in the fourth quarter and they started to give up.  I saw something in this game I had never seen before in my life during a game; about halfway through the fourth quarter one of their players took off his helmet and started smoking a cigarette on the bench.  We play N. Adelaide again in three weeks and I already have it marked on my calendar.

The game was also interesting due to the major factor the sun played.  Winter just began here in Adelaide but winter in Australia is nothing like the frigid ones in Burlington.  The sun is extremely bright and because the skies tend to be pretty clear it shines down for long periods of time.  This provided a great challenge for both goalies but Sarge, my team's keeper had a great game regardless.  It seemed he brought out his best saves when the N. Adelaide players got in his face. 

Our team at halftime talking about how important it is to keep our heads on straight and not retaliate.   (Photo by Christian Cook)

A couple of days before the North Adelaide game I was coaching the U-15 boys in practice and at the conclusion of training I got into a playful argument with them about proper pronunciation.  Not many Australians pronounce their R's, and they also use different words that have the same meanings as us.  For example, hire means rent, petrol is gas and tea is dinner.  One of the players asked me a question that had me on my knees laughing; "Is college in the States like it is in the movies, like with the girls and everything?"  It's fun to see what the younger players' opinions of America is because they get most of their information from movies.

I also got a chance to test out the Australian golf scene.  I was hoping I would be a stud because I think of Americans being the best golfers in the world but my teammates Stefan Guerin and Matt Ryan humbled me.  They shot very low scores while I couldn't figure out the fast greens.  They were also quick to remind me that Australia has produced some of the greatest golfers in the world; Greg Norman, Adam Scott and a few others as well.

N. Adelaide on the attack against a Woodville defense that really stepped up in the second half. (Photo by Christian Cook)

It felt great to get a win, especially as we head into our first bye week of the season.  I'll miss having a game but it will be a good opportunity for us to prepare for Sturt, who we had our first victory of the season over (hopefully with the arrival of the Americans we can pump them even more).  We have practices throughout the week but we also have the weekend off to do whatever we desire.  I think some of the players are going to take us out to see some kangaroos and if we really feel like an adventure we may head to Melbourne.  If we do see kangaroos and koalas I'll be sure to post some pictures.


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