Follow the Eagles In Europe
Video // May 25 // Georgia Southern Student-Athletes Share Their Thoughts on the Trip
I am writing this on the last day of what has been an incredible week and a half. I have been able to see some of the most beautiful places in the world and experience new and challenging obstacles in my time here in Europe. This experience has been unbelievable and it is unfortunate that it has to come to an end. However, after everything we have done in the last 10 days it feels like we have been here for a month in a way, I am ready to come home.
I spent my last day in France shopping and relaxing before our game against A.S. Minguettes. In the morning, I joined a group and went to the older part of Lyon to do some last-minute shopping and sightseeing before we had to leave. We spent three hours around town before returning to the hotel to rest up for the game.
Video // May 23 // Neal Bates Pregame Interview
The game with A.S. Minguettes started slow and we weren't really sure what to expect from our opponents. I thought we played fairly well against the professional team, and for the third-straight match, we got stronger and created more chances as the game progressed. A.S. Minguettes scored two and unfortunately, we were unable to pull any back as we lost 2-0. Despite the result, I thought we responded well after going down two goals and created quality chances throughout the match. After the game we were able to trade jerseys with Minguettes, something we've seen professional players do, but never been able to experience ourselves in our club and college careers.
Video // May 23 // The Teams Take the Field
Looking back on the trip, I think our team was able to experience a lot of great challenges and events that not everybody gets to experience in their lives. As I stated before, some of the places and things we saw were just amazing and it really made me realize how fortunate we are to be able to make this trip. Other than our matches, the professional games were the highlight of the trip for me. The Lyon game in particular was an awesome and unforgettable experience due to the club's need for a win to qualify for the Champions League next season. I also found the tour of Barcelona's stadium, the Nou Camp, to be something special. It was great to learn about the history of the club and see their beautiful club museum.
I think this trip will be a big benefit for our program, both in the short-term and long-term. The trip has brought our team closer together as nothing else could. Being able to experience all that we have in the past 10 days can only be a positive for us going into the fall season. In terms of what this trip will do for our program in the long term, I believe it shows that players will have the opportunity to experience foreign trips when they come to Georgia Southern. This is obviously not something that all college soccer players will have the opportunity to do. This has been an unforgettable experience and something that I will share with our coaches and players for the rest of my life.
The day started off with an hour and a half bus ride through the French countryside Annecy, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The combination of an unbelievably clear lake, an old town that had been preserved since the 1800s and the backdrop of the Alps is something I will never forget. We arrived at 11:00 a.m., and some of us took paddle boats out on the lake, while others toured around the city before lunch.
For lunch we were served a dish that is most commonly found in Eastern Europe. It was a thin type of pizza that was covered in a French type of sauce with cheese, ham, and onions. It was one of my favorite meals of the trip thus far. After lunch, we were given a little bit more time before we left, and most of us took this opportunity to shop at the Farmer's Market and get gifts at the many souvenir shops.
We left Annecy and traveled to Chamonix, France. The ride was two hours long, but the views of the Alps were amazing, so the time went by fast as we were busy taking pictures and looking at all of the surreal scenery. Once we found a place to get off the bus, we piled into a gondola and went to the top of one of the mountains. This, however, wasn't your average gondola ride. The ride started at about 3,000 feet above sea level and within 10 minutes we were 13,000 feet up.
As a result of the sudden change in elevation, the first 15 minutes on the mountain were spent with most people sitting down in the gift shop trying to catch their breath and get used to the thin air. After battling the snow and clouds and trying to take the perfect picture, it was time for us to take the gondola back to the bottom of the mountain so we could make it to practice before our dinner reservations.
Video // May 22 // Chamonix - A View From the Top
Video // May 22 // The Gondola Ride Down From Chamonix
Imagine playing soccer on a turf field that is placed in a valley between very tall mountains, with the temperature at 65 degrees, and in a small town that is more of a ski resort than an actual town. Perfect, right? Well, that is where we were practicing, it was unbelievable how perfect it was. The only bad part about the practice is that it had to end. Due to reservations for dinner, we couldn't stay on the field for very long, but even with the short amount of time, it is a practice I will never forget.
Video // May 22 // Luigi Clendenning Talks About the Day in Chamonix, France
From practice we went to a local restaurant that served us salad, pasta and chicken, and a fruit salad for dessert. The pasta and chicken were fantastic, but the fresh fruit salad was my favorite part of the meal. After the dinner, to cap off the spectacular day, Dr. Wagner was generous enough to treat the team to ice cream before we took the bus back to Lyon.
Video // May 21 // Two Eagles Become Lyon Supporters
Video // May 21 // Thomas Valikonis Talks About the Lyon Match
|GSU at the Lyon match|
Day 8 // May 20 // by Nick Lane, Freshman, Suwanee, Ga
We started off our day with an early training session on a street court located on the banks of the Rhône River. We played 3-on-3 games in a round-robin tournament. Five teams competed for four places in the semifinals with one team being eliminated earlier. The winning team consisted of Drew Ruggles, Zane El-Shami, and Matty Brennan. Neal Bates was the top goalkeeper for the day. The setting of the small street court between the river and the old French-style buildings made the practice one I will never forget.
Video // May 20 // Practice on the Banks of the Rhône
Video // May 20 // Campeones! (Champions)
|Today's winning team at practice|
After the practice we had some free time to explore old Lyon with our teammates. We met back at the bus to depart for Grenoble. After arriving we were given time to walk around the city and eat lunch on our own. The food was great and the views were even better. Grenoble is located in the Alps and is surrounded by large snow-capped mountains. We were able to ride a gondola that reached a high elevation overlooking the city. The view of the Alps was awesome.
Following a bit of sightseeing, we attended the Ligue 2 match between Grenoble Foot 38 and Clermont Foot in the Stade Des Alpes. The stadium was very unique and cool. The teams battled throughout to a 2-2 draw. The highlight of the match for me, however, was the Grenoble fans. They stood and chanted the whole game, although I'm not sure who they were cheering for. Grenoble seemed to be under a lot of scrutiny due to a less than perfect season. The atmosphere of the stadium and enthusiasm of the fans was very entertaining. Traveling to the city of Grenoble was a great experience to see a true French city and the people who live there.
Video // May 20 // Stade Des Alpes
|Team picture at Stade Des Alpes|
Day 7 // May 19 // by Ryan Platt, Junior, Preston, England
Today we started by going to the historic parts of Lyon, France saw the city's spectacular scenery from the top of the mountains that surrounds the city. On the top of the mountain was a two-story church built in the 1870's with beautiful architectural details. We walked down the mountain through the historical portions of Lyon. In the the old town, we paid a visit to an outdoor theater which was awesome.
We had lunch at a restaurant closer to our hotel, an all-you-can-eat buffet establishment named “Flunch.” We checked into our hotel at 4:30 in the middle of town and were given three hours of free time in the downtown area. Most of the team took advantage of the time to take a quick nap.
Our dinner was held in a really swanky restaurant and we got dressed up in our best attire. We had a four-course meal which started with an appetizer. The entree was a local dish called Coulette followed by some gorgeous cheeses and an exotic dessert which was similar to a chocolate cheesecake. After dinner we went back to the hotel to turn in for the night.
We are all looking forward to the opportunity to watch the professional games this weekend. Tomorrow we travel to see Grenoble play a second division match. Saturday's match is very important as Lyon tries to stay in third place and qualify for UEFA Champions League next year.
|Eagles outside LeNord Resturant|
Day 6 // May 18 // by Aleksander Tomic, Sophomore, Sydney, Australia
Today was our first full day in Lyon, France, and it was nothing less than spectacular. We began our day with a nice continental breakfast at our hotel, where we had a variety of traditional and non-traditional food. Following breakfast, we headed to Olympique Lyonnais' stadium (Stade de Gerland) in an effort to watch the first team train. Unfortunately, those plans changed when the manager (Coach Claude Puel) decided to close practice to the public at the last minute. As an alternative, we were given a private tour of the stadium where we were able to enter the home and away locker rooms, walk on the pitch and learn a lot more about the traditions and culture of the club. Our guide, Michelle, is Lyon's FIFA Commissioner. Following the tour, we were given some time in the team's fan shop where we were able to buy jerseys and other merchandise.
After lunch we were given some time off to relax and mentally prepare for our upcoming match against Lyon Reserves. At 2.30 p.m., we hopped on the bus and headed to the stadium. As we walked to our locker room, we had a quick chance to see all the great facilities their reserve and youth teams have access to, including an amazing stadium and pitch dedicated to the reserve team. Fortunately enough for us, this was the pitch we played on.
We started off the game on the wrong foot, going down 2-0 within the first 10 minutes as a result of two defensive miscues. Nevertheless, we kept working hard and played much better over the next 30 minutes, coming close to scoring on several occasions. Coming out of the locker room in the second half down 2-0, we knew we had a lot of work to do in order to get back into the game.
Midway through the second half a great individual effort by Chris Claxton to beat two Lyon defenders allowed him to score our opening goal. We built off of this confidence and put Witt Carlisle in position to score the equalizer a few minutes later. With momentum going our way we kept searching for the next goal and it came with about 10 minutes left through Thomas Valikonis on an attack down the left flank. Leading 3-2 with minutes to go we thought we'd play it smart and keep things simple and manageable as Lyon pressed forward to grab an equalizer. That wasn't the case as we scored our fourth goal of the match at the final whistle, Ethan LaPan got free in the box and scored off a brilliant back-heel through-ball assist by Hunter Norton. It was a brilliant result for the lads and an even better reflection on the progress we've made as a team this semester.
Day 4 // May 16 // by Ethan LaPan, Freshman, Martinez, Ga.
Looking back on our first three days in Europe, I can say with confidence that our trip has been a great success. On Monday morning we woke up for breakfast with an urge to go back to the Nou Camp Stadium where we watched Barcelona play just the night before. The tour of the stadium was great and we got to see areas that the public normally does not get to see. I think that visiting the stadium is something that I'll be able to look back on because a lot of history has been made on that field. Barcelona is the best team in the world and I'm glad that I had the opportunity to see them play and go behind the scenes on a stadium tour.
After the tour, the team decided to go back to the hotel to get some rest for our game that night. We were exhausted from the trip and all the touring of downtown Barcelona on Sunday. After some rest, we had our pregame meal and left the hotel to play San Lorenzo. They are the current Spanish 3rd League champions and will be playing in the second division next year. I didn't really know what to expect, but I was sure they'd be a fast technical team that moved the ball and had a good attack. We started off slow and conceded two goals that could have been prevented. I think that we weren't quite mentally focused because of nerves and not being comfortable. Overall, we got a great experience from the game and really grew as a team.
Following the match, we had dinner with the San Lorenzo team. It was a traditional Catalan meal with bread, sausage, chicken and pork. They were very friendly and appreciative of the game we gave them. We headed back to the hotel to pack and get some rest for our bus ride to Lyon, France. So far, the trip has been more than I expected. I'm looking forward to our experience in France and hope that we can get some good results against our opponents.
Day 1-2 // May 14-15 // by Joe Hughes, Sophomore, Mooresville, N.C.
Just getting off the plane was an instant shock as the Barcelona airport was extremely modern. We took the scenic route to the hotel. seeing everything from houses perched on the mountains to a brand new soccer stadium that could hold more than 40,000 people. Our hotel is located in a nice university area with a turf soccer field, pool and volleyball court. After getting settled into our hotel, we went on a long run through the university. We saw students, their dorms, restaurants and ended on a forest trail that kept us on our toes going up and down hills. After getting cleaned up, dinner was a three-course meal with an appetizer and yogurt desert.
Our second day started with a morning training session, followed by a breakfast with the some of the best fruit I have ever seen or eaten. We're currently on our way to a three-hour bike tour, then off to see Barcelona play at the Nou Camp. This trip has already blown my expectations and it's only the start of day 2.
Match 1 (Monday, May 16)
Georgia Southern - 0
San Lorenz - 2
Match 2 (Wednesday, May 18)
Georgia Southern - 4
Claxton, Carlisle, Valikonis, LaPan
Lyon Reserves - 2
Match 3 (Monday, May 23)
Georgia Southern - 0
AS Minguettes - 2
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- Category: Men's Soccer
- Published on Monday, 23 May 2011 11:06