Sunday, December 30, 2007

It's Almost 2008 Rant

So I was at the local supermarket today, and while waiting in line for the requested deli meats at the delicatessen, I sampled what appeared to be a Nilla Wafer topped with a mocha-chocolate chip dip. It was delicious.

With the ball dropping just over 24 hours, I suppose it's time to lean back in the rocking chair, bind my hands together, and reflect upon the soon-to-expire 2007.

*Of all of my undertakings this year, my most rewarding one was unquestionably my Soccer Odyssey, and I knew it would be. As a soccer junkie, I lovingly embraced the idea of scouting new places to watch, breathe, and ultimately, finding myself in my element. Although I didn't make to all of the venues I had originally planned on, I was able to rest my weary bones and recline at the following locations:

India Point Park (Providence, RI)
Gano Street Park (Providence, RI)
Stevenson Field (Providence, RI)
National Soccer Hall of Fame (Oneonta, NY)
Pierce Field (East Providence, RI)
RIC Soccer Field (Providence, RI)
Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, MA)
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Annapolis, MD)
Westside Athletic Complex (Danbury, CT)
RFK Stadium (Washington, DC)
Bryant University Track and Turf Complex (Lincoln, RI)
Rentscheler Field (Hartford, CT)

The typical mortal would say "egads, I'm exhausted." Not at all. If there were a match going on right now, in the dead of a punishing New England winter, I would bring a cannister of hot cocoa, and take my place at the top rung of the brutally cold metal bleachers for the entire ninety while my extremities endure the accompanying frostbite. I'm crazier about this game than Tom Cruise is about Scientology.

*Most memorable match: Little to no inner debate on this one. Hands down, it had to have been the WestConn-RIC Little East semi-final women's soccer match at Western Connecticut State University. Aside from the emotional attachment to my alma mater, the fourth-seeded Anchorwomen provided their own "Rudy" story when they stepped out onto the pitch with only two subs available against the perennial Little East powerhouse. Overmatched? Not on this night.

Although WestConn had beaten them to the scoreboard in the first half, the Anchorwomen responded with two goals of their own going into the 85th minute with victory in their sights. But a questionable call on the right channel of RIC territory led to WestConn's equalizer off the ensuring CK, tying the proceedings at two apiece. An exhausted RIC side braved through nearly 14 minutes of OT before they watched WestConn clinch the game-winner after 104 total minutes, with RIC giving it their absolute all to upset their opponents.

*Toughest match to watch: Revolution-DC on August 5th. I don't know if it was because of the heat, or partying like rock stars the night before, but the Revs were flatter than Paris Hilton. Nothing was working, and when it wasn't working, DC's Luciano Emilio made them pay, with two goals en route to his club's 3-0 victory. Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of the loss was the fact that the Revs, who had stood atop the Eastern Conference pinnacle for most of the season, we simply outclassed for the first time all summer. It was not pretty.

*Most impressive players: Jeffrey Gonsalves (Rhode Island Stingrays) and Kerry Donahue (Rhode Island College).

After a disappointing spring in which he was drafted by his hometown Toronto FC side, the former Rhody Ram was soon out of a job when injuries limited him in preseason training. So when he returned to RI to finish off his studies at URI, he also came back to his former PDL side and dominated. Ten goals, five assists in 14 games for the 'Rays left little doubt that Gonsalves has got the stuff to play professionally.

Donahue, a senior defender at RIC, was already known for her stellar play in the back with an all-conference selection in 2006. But she turned her game up another notch by scoring three goals, including a start at forward. Yet, her best match yet came when during the final match of her collegiate career against WestConn, where she absolutely shut down the lethal WestConn attack. It's said that the best players save their best when the stakes are at their highest, and Donahue proved this saying true, as she finished off her career with an exemplary performance in CT.

You're probably wondering why I started off this piece with my supermarket experience. Well, the Nilla Wafer is a metaphor (literally and figuratively) for this year. Like many of the matches I attended, they were new to me, there for the taking, completely free. After tasting the cookies with its delicate topping, I came away from it wanting more, much like all of the soccer I saw this year.

Hey, what where you throw those tomatoes!

Happy New Year everybody!

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