StagTracks

A first-person account of Stags Athletics!

Michael O’Keeffe – 2012 Olympic Blog (July 13, 2012)

Football isn’t called the beautiful game for nothing and Wednesday night’s fixture against the Japanese U-23s justified its colloquial reference.

Dominated in possession and shots for the most part of the game, the resilience and never-say-die attitude we showed throughout the game in defense came through in attack, equalizing in the 94th minute thanks to a composed finish from Dakota Lucas.

Inheriting the underdog status going into the game, we had talked about being dogged in defense, knowing that the longer we kept Japan scoreless, the more frustrated they would become.

Throughout the first half we were predictably under the pump, but stubborn defending from our backline along with some fine saves from keeper Jake Gleeson ensured the score line remained 0-0 going into half time.

With a small tactical change in the second, we found ourselves on the ball more frequently as the combinations throughout the team began to find its straps.

Nonetheless, Japan had all of the chances, in the second half and after hitting the bar twice they got what the 35,000 strong crowd felt was just rewards by scoring in the 71st minute.

However, just as Japan thought the result was theirs, Kosta Barbarouses picked up the ball 35m from goal and ran at the Japanese defense in one final attempt to salvage a result. He slipped Marco Rojas who stepped over the ball, which left a wide-open Lucas to pick his spot and calmly slot the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the goal.

No matter what the possession, shots on goal or time in opposition half stats say, being able to leave the stadium on level terms with a late smash and grab goal vindicates why they call football beautiful.

We know we have a lot to learn and a lot to do in terms of where we want to be by the time we play Belarus on August 26th but there were many positives also.

With the team only being together 2 days prior to the game, training twice, missing a couple of key players and playing a new formation, to get a result like that is extremely encouraging.

We will take it in our stride, learn from our mistakes and look to move forward in our next game against South Korea U-23s on Saturday (July 14).

Head Coach Ed Paige – USTA Blog

It has been a great time for all involved with team New England at this year’s USTA Intersectionals in lovely, soggy, Shreveport, Louisiana.

We arrived at the airport around one pm on July 7 and sped directly to the clay courts for some sleep-deprived practice, then a dinner and a meeting with the kids’ hosts. As I said earlier, two local families adopt the sixteen-year-old boys and girls for the week and not only feed them, but transport them to the courts and show them around the bayou.

Suffice it to say our time here has been a blast. The teams did well, defeating Caribbean and Pacific Northwest. The level of play by our team was just superb. Particularly outstanding has been the play of our Connecticut contingent, including Elyse Hamlin of Fairfield, Bradley Orban of Milford and Melissa Lord of Bloomfield. Watch out for these three in the future.

Along with the tennis, the players have sure enjoyed their time here and made great friends with the other kids, including the Caribbean contingent, who are mostly from Puerto Rico.

On Wednesday night, team New England went bowling. We knew we arrived at the lanes when we saw a giant (and I do mean giant) bowling pin greet us as we drove up to the establishment.

After a long, long, day of rain, the final day of Intersectionals began at 6 pm local time with a match against Northern California. The format was changed to singles only, and each set began at 2-all.  When the dust (and puddles) had settled the outcome was dead even. New England 3-Northern California 3.  The team finished with two wins, two losses and one tie.

All that was left was a truncated banquet and awards presentation. I am very happy to report that the New England boys and girls won the coveted team sportsmanship award. Each of the athletes handled themselves extremely well on and off the court.

New England should be very proud about these kids as they represent us in such a prestigious competition. Their level of play is the first rate, but their behavior, sportsmanship and good nature is even better.

 

Coach Ed Paige – USTA Blog

For the second consecutive year, I’ve been chosen to coach the New England 16-and-under team at the United States Tennis Association’s prestigious intersectional competition in Shreveport, Louisiana. It is with great pride that I accept this position.

Squads from the sixteen sections of the United States face off in a team competition that includes singles, doubles, and mixed doubles play. Truly, the best 16-and-under players from across the United States will play in “the swamp” before going on to other national or sectional individual play.

What really makes this event special for us are our hosts. The four boys and the four girls who comprise the New England team stay for the week with two local families, who not only put the kids up and feed them, but come to matches and cheer for their visitors. Given the daytime temperatures in Shreveport, this is quite an achievement!

This year, the New England team includes four players from Massachusetts, three from Connecticut, and one from Maine. Our Connecticut natives include Elyse Hamlin of Fairfield and Bradley Orban of Milford.

The competition begins Sunday. Check back for another entry during the competition.

Ed Paige
Head Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach
Fairfield University

Blog Note: Ed Paige is the head coach of the Fairfield University men’s and women’s tennis teams. Under his guidance, both the men’s and women’s tennis teams captured the 2012 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament. He coached the USTA New England team during the summer of 2011 as well.

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