Hey hey heyyyyy. I hope everyone is doing well and finishing this week strong as we inch closer towards the weekend. This is actually my second attempt today at writing this blog post for y’all. My first post instantaneously combusted as I was proof reading and adding pictures… talk about frustrating. Oh well, practice makes perfect I guess. Since I last checked in with everyone, we have played 3 games so there is quite a bit for me to catch you up on! Before I jump into that though, I would like to once again thank everyone who religiously reads my updates and has been following along. My blog recently surpassed 5,200 views, which is kinda cool to think about. What started as an experiment has turned into something that people all over the world (28 countries represented) are stumbling upon and sharing. I hope these are worth your time and if there is ever something specific you want me to talk about, just drop me a comment!
These last three games have been real tests for our team. They have made me realize the incredible effort it takes to win and that winning should never be taken for granted. We lost 2 straight and then tied our most recent game this past Monday. The first game was against Degerfors, at home. The match ended 4-1, but the score doesn’t fairly describe the close game it was. We held most of the possession in this contest, but as seen in many leagues throughout the world, this statistic holds little bearing on goals and results sometimes. At one point in the second half we were able to put one in and narrow the score to 2-1. The momentum was swinging in our favor and the pressure was starting to push Degerfors deeper into their end. However, minutes after leveling the score, I was called for a foul in the box on their forward after a slide tackle. In all honesty, I thought the referee blew this call; I was shocked when I heard him blow his whistle. I immediately pleaded my case and pointed to the ball as it was rolling over the sideline for a throw in (yes, that’s how much ball I had gotten in that tackle). Their forward had made a meal of the tackle and added the theatrics that soccer has been notorious for. What I found comical was when their forward came up to me minutes after they converted the pk and said “No way was that a penalty, you got the ball. But I’m not the referee…” As frustrating as that was, next time I will stay on my feet and not give the referee the opportunity to blow such a call that could swing a result like it happened there. Learning on the job, a must for any profession!
(Above: “Ref, you’re having a giggle!!”)
Our next game was against Sundsvall, who were sitting on top of the table, and would require maximum effort if we were to get a result, especially away. Sundsvall is a 10 hour bus ride north from Angelholm. Sleep. Music. Iphone games. Hit head against window. Repeat. It was a long ride. You know you are in northern Sweden when “Moose Burgers” are on the menu at the restaurant the team stops at for dinner (yum!?). What was also interesting was how long the sun was up. Since we were so far north, it was light out close to 10:30. Long days in the sumer months and a lot of darkness in the winter months. The bus driver explained to me that at one point in the Summer, the sun doesn’t even set, but rather dips low enough to almost go out of view before rising again… crazy stuff. It was noticeably colder up north than it was in Angelholm and it was cool to see more of Sweden than Skane, the region I’m living in. The game was 7pm the next night so the following day was a slow burn, waiting for kickoff.
Everything that could have gone wrong, basically did. Two of our players were injured before the game even started, forcing us to change the lineup and shuffle a few guys out of position. Not to use stiff legs after a long travel day as an excuse, but we started the game flat and very pedestrian. Our scouting report stressed the need to always account for their forward in the box, as he was a natural finisher and poacher around goal. However, he was able to get free a couple times in the first half, and what do you know… had two goals. It’s details like that that can mean the difference from winning and losing. The halftime score was 3-0 and we needed to make some serious changes for the second half. We were a completely different team after the break. We came out throwing some punches of our own. We came within one goal on two different occasions before eventually falling 4-3. We could feel good about our fight, but not about the crater sized hole we had dug ourselves in the first half. We simply shot ourselves in the foot.
The game was an eventful one for me. Part way through the first half I was involved in a bone-crunching tackle (quite literally). The other player turned with the ball but let his touch go too far in front of him. I stepped hard to the ball, stood my ground, and BAM. Unfortunately the other player broke his leg. I felt terrible as he was in noticeable pain and the stretcher needed to be brought on the field. I recently was able to find him on Facebook and send him a message for a speedy recovery. I was in no way trying to injure him, but sometimes things happen. And people still think soccer is for field fairies? Pshhh. Other things that happened to me during the game: completely busted through my cleats, lost a contact lens halfway through the second half, and saved a goal off the line. Eventful, but a sour taste lingered in my mouth as I got on the bus for the ride home. We are giving up way too many goals and always having to play from behind isn’t a recipe for success. Luckily I was able to calm my mind and get some rest on our sleeper bus. We rolled into Angelholm at 9am the next morning and went straight into a rehab training session– the grind never stops.
(Above: Prayers up to Robin Sellin for a quick recovery!)
Our next game is against Ljungskile, away. This game will be interesting because they actually have a couple Americans on their team– who happen to be former UW Madison players. With Pyz and I representing Marquette, it will be an I-94 rivalry, Swedish style. Different country, same great rivalry. I look forward to it and am hoping to catch that elusive next ‘W’.
I also want to give a shout out to all the moms out there. I hope you all felt loved and appreciated this past Mother’s Day. A special shout out to my wonder-woman of a mom! I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for your unrelenting support, love, and those rides to soccer practices. Love you!
(Above: Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful mom!)
Another congratulations goes out to all my fellow seniors graduating from your respective colleges this week. I have been seeing the pictures of all the fun Senior Week activities going on and have a serious case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I hope you all are enjoying yourselves and the best of luck for whatever is next! Also, if anyone is doing the whole traveling Europe thing before joining the “real world”, know you have a couch to crash on in Sweden!
That’s that for this one guys. Thanks again for reading and I hope you can get out and enjoy some early Summer sunshine in the next couple days. The sun has been replaced by rain here so I guess that calls for another episode of True Detective. You guys take it easy and until next time… don’t be strangers!
PS… World Cup in 29 days!!! Chyeahhhh budddyyy!!!