Croatian Eagles Red: CESC Game Blog

Sunday, October 17
Octoberfest - Madison

I asked for a blog-writing-replacement to no avail, so better late than never.  Though really, who knew Dan had it in him?!

Last weekend we flew to Mad-town for Octoberfest.  The Eagles took on Verona SC Orange in a game that landed with a tie.  The details evade me since I was not there.  But Alayna’s game was awesome with Coach Jamie’s Storm hailing a second victory under his leadership, making Jamie 2:2.  Many of the other games were another story.  Alayna scored 6 again for a second week in a row.

The Coach’s wives arrived at Reddan Park shortly before the Eagle’s second game, a doozey, heading off against the numero uno team in the state: Elm Grove U11 Blues.  Seemingly nerves barraged the Eagles’ minds, and the boys were outplayed.  Our team tried, but in the end Elm Grove proved victorious by 7 goals.  The Eagles landed now crashing into the A division from C.

After a night of fun in the pool and a pizza party (and towel snapping, game room frolicking, and just plain silliness), the Eagles returned to their nests to prepare for a crack-of-dawn game with whistle screeching at 7:30 am on Sunday morning.

Reddan Park awaited with a crisp chill in the air as our boys slowly awoke from their dazed conditions to do what they came to Madison to do.  They played with the passion we have grown to love and scream (often too loudly) for with strange words of encouragement (mostly Jody).  The defense defended; the offense executed plays; the goalie guarded the fortress, The number two team in WI, MYSC Rush Blue, remained scoreless in a game the turned heads.  Coaches and parents looked away from the games their teams played to see these Eagles attack with a vengeance. We tied this game, but it was a victory for our Eagles.

Wounded for moments.  Saddened for few.  Bloodied but not broken.  Thrilled with team work.  The Eagles left Octoberfest like always, proud of what they accomplished, wiser than when they arrived, and having to be pulled off the soccer field to head home to prepare for another battle in sight.

Saturday, September 25
MYRSL League Game #2 - Racine United Black

The boys scored and scored and scored and scored.... What else can I say except way to go  - 17-1 not bad. It must of been coach Patti running warm up drills before the game (I was like 4 minutes late).

When is Deb coming back, so I don't have to do this............. 


Saturday, September 18
MYRSL League Game #1 - Pewaukee

Pewaukee – how many times do you think we can play these guys…….. Rain (downpour) – how many times do you think I need to get wet?  

3 goals in the first 10 minutes by our wet boys and than a streak of light in the air put an end to the game, but for only 10 minutes. The weather gods removed the rain from the area and play resumed with more goals and another victory for our first league game victory (9-1). 

Harvest fest weekend – A big thanks to all that volunteered over the weekend. It was wet and cold, but we still did all we could.  

The best part of the weekend (other than watching the boys win) was packing up all the Fun rental stuff and seeing Rick get all excited by a new fashion statement that one of the moms has started.



Sunday, September 12
New Berlin Tourney - Champs

Better late than never.

It was a dark and balmy night when the Eagles crept onto the mysterious plateau.  Soccer consumed their thoughts as they met with their nemeses face-to-face….

And then the little flock awoke for a late morning competition on perhaps one of the last sunny weekends of 2010.

I cannot speak on behalf of that first game, for I remained here in the Prairie for Alayna’s first soccer game of the season; her team sans Dan reigned victorious by the way.
The Eagles kicked bootay.  The first shut-out of the tournament ignited a fire in these birds; they won 9:0 against New Berlin SC Shock.

Game 2 brought the Allouez Stampede White to Calhoun Park to play our Eagles.  Who is that man pacing the cheering sideline coaching the boys?  Coach Dan’s brother attended his first Eagles game today.  Like Coach, he loves the game and helped coach the boys to another shoot-out 8:0.  Goals by many.  Defense reigned.

The sun cast its glow just above the treeline for our third game of the day.  The Eagles opposed OSA Academy in a somewhat physical match.  Our Eagles never let up and walked off the field on a dusky evening with their third shoot-out of the day.  Goosebumps tingle with the memories of these games.  They get it; they really get it. 

Day two with Pewaukee Thunder on the contorted field dipping down in the woods.  The ball never found its way to the guest side of the field with a field embodied with slopes and dips, not to mention burrs.  But victory was ours once again as the high-fives smacked in shoot-out number 4 in this New Berlin Fall Tournament.  Final score 8:0.

Pewaukee rejoins the Eagles in the Championship game later that afternoon.  Will it be a shootout?  Not quite.  Only one goal penetrated our net on a Penalty Kick.  But our team worked diligently in offense, defense, and in the goal.  Our birds the victors with a final score of 5:1.

In addition to victory New Berlin brought our Thunderbirds moments we won’t soon forget.  More discussion on the sidelines inquiring about this team of young boys on the field.  Who are they?  How long have they played?  Where are they from?  A standing ovation from the little Eaglettes on the playground as our birds of prey flew to accept their awards and accolades.  Brandon enduring a bulls-eye to the throat without skipping a beat.  Free parking.  A celebration of Coach Rick’s birthday with a very special cake.  A sideline ref formerly a student in my class.  The Croatian flag flying high on the field once again, not because each and every member of the team is a Croat but because they represent Croatia every time they step on the field and do so with integrity and pride.  The boys and their families have been adopted into the community of Croatians and what a community it is.  1-2-3 Orlovi!

Saturday, September 4
Is It Game Day!

After rising this morning to a relaxing, no alarm clock morning, I found myself suddenly in a panic stricken state! 
Picture this I am in the kitchen making coffee and wondering why in the world my little tootsies are feeling so cold?  Hmm, this is puzzling since it has been so stinking hot all week long.  Hmmmm, I ‘m going to turn on the tv to see what is going on this relaxing Saturday morn.  Weather guy chimes in it’s 46 degrees in Waukesha, 44 in blah blah he continues,.  I’m  thinking ok we must have a soccer game and I have just forgotten about it somehow!  It’s ridiculously cold and very windy, yep we definitely have a game and probably an early one.  
We always play in freezing cold weather early in the morning. It just the eagle way.  ….where is that damn eagles calendar, I need to get Cubby up.  And then I took a deep breath…. Wait a minute, it’s not raining out, it is just really cold and windy in early September so perhaps….. maybe….. we don’t have a game…..And then I found the trusty never fail eagle calendar.  Sure enough,,, no game.  
Whew, if that wasn’t a test on the old ticker!  To all of us who remember all the wonderful weather we and our little eagles endured last season.  Cheers to a new season! Weather can’t bring us down! 

Patti Burg

Sunday, August 29
Hartford Kick Some Grass! CHAMPS

Day One – Kick Some Grass Soccer Tournament, Hartford.

It’s the weekend before school resumes, and Mother Nature chose to shine upon the Eagles in their first games of the season.  The roster mirrors many familiar names while including some new ones.  The boys are ready, anticipating their 8:30 kick-off as the Croatian Eagles U10 Red (U11).  Believe it or not, this is only their second year playing together under the coaching of Dan and Rick; that year has seasoned them and prepared them for today.

I wish I could refresh you with a play-by play of the games Big Red played today, but I can’t.  There was no MVP, no VIP, no Player of the Games.  There were just our boys: josh, logan, sean, krupa , seth, cody, brandon, tommy, cubby, gehl, sawyer, and ben playing as a TEAM.  They passed, protected, shot, and defended together.

The numbers reveal the success of the team and coaches:

                Game 1 – Big Red versus Oregon.  Score – 8:2. 

First goal of the game was not an Eagles’ goal; Oregon scored early-on. For the duration of the game, the Eagles soared.  Nets pierced by the impactful feet of cubby, gehl, cody, josh, and sawyer.  Multiple goals by gehl (2) and cody (3). 

Game 2 – Big Red versus North Shore United. Score – 11:0.  Shut-out.

The numbers in this game exemplify the teamwork of the Eagles.  Not a single goal passed the gates of our defense and goalies: logan and josh.  Tenacious footwork, passing, and set-ups afforded goals to nearly the entire flock of Eagles through cody, gehl, cubby, tommy, josh, sean, sawyer, and logan.  Again, gehl and cody with 2 and 3.  

We, the parents, couldn’t have planned nor asked for a better day.  Our boys were off to an amazing start.  By the way, how many of you heard strangers walking by asking about the blue U11 team on the field?  We know who they are, and we know there is something special there.

Day  Two - Kick Some Grass Soccer Tournament, Hartford.

OK.  The typical Day 2 BLOG has traditionally reflected a morsel less thrill than the first day.  Often, the Eagles perform with a smidge less drive.  This is a new season and a new day . . . a HOT one both literally and figuratively. 

Who did not LOVE the later start date for day 2?  The boys slept in, awoke with some leisure, ate breakfast, and headed in to Hartford for their third game at 1:30.  High temps brought out the fancy Eagle tent to offer shade to the Eagles at half time.  The sun begat one last sunburn to heal within the walls of the classrooms in days to come.  Water flowed, smiles abounded, and the sidelines once again reflected the hope we have for our young thunderbirds.

                Game 3 – North Shore Arsenal.  Score – 5:2.

Well, though they forgot their team chant, they kicked some grass in this game.  It might not have started with the beauty of the day before, but this team put up a bit more fight.  Again our boys worked it out on the field and beat out the opposition.  Who will ever forget Logan’s fake-out?  Well, evidently Logan did when I asked him about it.  But the rest of us won’t!  Goals scored in this game by gehl, sean, cody, and sawyer; multiples for gehl today.  Way to go team!  And they did cheer after halftime.  Do you know what they said?

Game 4 – CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.  Lake Country United.  Score – 3:0.

Who is that goofy guy running through our boys with the massive Croatian flag?   He raised $37 for the Eagles by the way. J  Tent up, boys on the field, parents in direct sun on one of the hottest afternoons of the summer, it was time for more soccer.  What a match this was.  The Eagles fought perhaps their hardest battle on this field on this day while pushing through the heat, the pain, and the exhaustion.  Logan threw himself as needed to protect the goal with his defensive players.  He does what most of us wouldn’t.  The shooters today were seth, cody, and josh, but the entire team earned those goals with them.  It was a great game. 

So what is that new chant?  1-2-3- Orlovi!  We are the Croatian Eagles, and that is our chant.  1-2-3 Eagles.

One last moment, if I may.  I would like to commend the excellent referees who officiated the games this weekend.  It is through their love and knowledge of the game, their ability to remain unbiased and impartial that make watching and learning the game so much fun.  And eventually, we will remember to stay off-sides and to keep our feet down.

Saturday, June 12
Brookfield Select Tournament
Game One – Brookfield Academy I v Croatian Eagles

The sidelines depict a contrast.  Supporters from one team on their chairs nearly leaning over the line; the other stationed on the aluminum bleachers; beer in hand.

The expectation in the air is that this other team will win; after all they pay exponentially for their sport. 

In the first few minutes of the game Brookfield scored, and perhaps in the belfry of our minds, we wondered if the Eagles might be met.

But then, everything changed.

Our Eagles did something we had never witnessed before: they played with the entire core of their beings, creating a unified front against their skillful opponents.

Each Eagle flew, engaged, defended, and swarmed.  For each goal made by Brookfield, our boys replenished the score board with a goal of their own.  And then, in the final moments of this game we’d never seen before, Gehl scored the final goal of the game.  Tie broken.  Eagles win.

Logan might be the best goalie in the league.  What he did on that field was incredible, strategic, and sometimes unusual.  Brandon played defense unmatched by the opposition.  And every boy gave more than any one of us knew he could.

Final count for successful shots into the net: Gehl  3, Cody 1, Joshua 1.  But each and every boy on that field played in integral part in the earning of those points.

Does money guarantee success?  Not in soccer. 

Our coaches coach for the love of the game.  This is not their occupation, but their passion.  That passion, along with soccer skills, is what they teach our Eagles.  That passion filled these boys as they dug deeper than ever before in this game. 

Games 2 & 3 Brookfield Cup.

Whew.  Good thing I wrote the first blog before today’s games.

What happened?  The Eagles flew a little low today.  Did they use everything they had yesterday?  Was it the late night team gathering?  Was it the time of day?  Or were they merely little 9 year old soccer players entitled to make mistakes – even when those mistakes matter.

Today the Eagles executed some skills well, but they played with less vigor, less discipline, and less heart. 

I wonder.  Where did they get that lack of discipline?  Maybe yesterday was just too much of a party day.  Maybe the boys needed us to set the precedent that tourneys are business, not just fun.  Who knows.

The day was not all wrought with disappointment.  As I mentioned, there some memorable moments: the coaches’ game that showcased Coach Dan and Coach Rick’s stellar soccer moves, plus the boys’ new favorite opponent: Coach Tommy with his smart-aleck whit.  “My boys are over there practicing.  They have a game tomorrow.  What do you guys have tomorrow?  Oh that’s right . . ..”  “What happened to you guys today?  I was goal side watching the game today, and I couldn’t believe it.  Sussex?!”  And lastly, from another Brookfield coach to Coach Dan, “You have some really special players there.” 

We know.  Right?  I mean that’s why we sacrifice what we do for these boys.  And that’s why these losses are often even harder on us than on the little Eagles.  But they have to lose some.  And we have to let the coaches be their commanders and their critics along with their leaders and guides.

Overall, the rain remained at bay,  our team winless,  and the Eagles returned to their flock to prepare for the games to come.

Sunday, June 6
Kenosha Red Star

The alarm rang a little early today to ready the boys and their families for soccer at UW-Parkside campus.  Straight shot down hwy 20 led the way to what we hoped would be a victorious morning.

Detours needed as the only potty lay sideways in the lonely parking prior to the game.  Well for the moms at least.  Dads found alternate accommodations; the boys too.

Anyhow, I digress.  On a much more thrilling note, guess who kicked it into gear on the tiniest U10 field ever mowed?  That’s right friends.  Our little Eagles presented giant-like stature while practicing restraint to keep the soccer ball on the field.  Goals flew into the U11 nets throughout the game scored by a variety of our forwards: Josh, Gehl, Justin, and Cody.  Multiples earned by strong passes to the feet of Josh and Gehl.

Two penalty shots attempted, well three really.  Cubby gave it his all, but the ball escaped the net.  Seth’s excitement preceded the whistle though the ball rolled in.  The ref (with a functional whistle I might add) smiled and rewound the play to bring a goal for Seth and the Eagles.

Who is that in the goal?  Isn’t he one of our defenders?  Little Krupa tried his hands in the net while Logan played the field.   Valiant protection channeled into his body from the soccer Gods.  Only one goal slipped in the Eagles goal closing the game with a 10:1 finish.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the man of the game: the ref.  The boys were encouraged to play aggressively with few calls.  His whistle screamed when needed and benefitted both teams.  Like the young Eagles, his love for the game shined with the sun on another windy soccer morning.

Monday, May 24
Battle between the Red and the Blue - Croatian Park

With a gentle breeze blowing against their sweaty, red faces, our little Eagles once again rose to victory.

Parents on the sidelines, confused about what to cheer, as our usual chant of “Go Eagles” wasn’t going to work this game.  Do we say, “Go U9 Eagles Red” or “Go Dan and Rick’s Eagles”?  The uncertainty didn’t matter as the boys did what they do best…playing a great game of soccer. 

The competition was fierce, a few kids towering over some.  Our defense was on fire, protecting Logan and their goal. 

The offense…fast and furious! Beautiful crosses finished by shots just missing the goal.  Keeping the pressure on, Cody drills one across the goal, only to have a defender deflect into our goal.  Score, 1-0.   


As the long shadows set on the crisp, green field, the scent of freshly mowed grass fills the air.  Can our boys stay strong through the 2nd half?  Oh, oh, a little slow to begin the half.  Perhaps the heat is wearing on them?   

Again, not willing to give up, they kick it into high gear.  Another beautiful corner kick, this time by Gehl.  The kick proves to be even too powerful for their goalkeeper to handle as the ball is soon in the back of the net.  Score, 2-0. 

With a little confusion amongst our defense, the trailing Eagles get a fast break.  Logan came out to stop, but the pressure was too strong.  A well deserved goal by them.  Score, 2-1. 

Only minutes left, the heat showing it’s intensity on our soaring Eagles.  Logan punts the ball high and deep into the field, only to have Gehl waiting patiently for it to come down.  One touch, control, 2nd touch, chips the ball to Josh, wide open.  Keeper comes out, Josh chips the ball over his head into the back of the net.  GOAL!!!  Score, 3-1. 

Cody, Josh, Logan, Brandon, Krupa, Gehl, Justin, Seth and Cubby played as a team and won as a team!!! 

Now we can chant…”GO EAGLES!” 

We missed you, Deb!

Saturday, May 22
Washington County

May 22 – Washington County

Ahhh.  The perfect day for soccer.  Sun, breeze, no rain, and 9 little boys just revved up to play.

The best “Don’t Suck!” chant of the year screams from the field as kick-off is underway.  The offense starts out strong, holding the ball close to the opposition’s goal.  Josh shoots and misses; was that his left foot?  WOW.  That’s a novel strategy for him!

Strange moments of the game brought to us in part by a greenhorn ref who seems to have an aversion for the sound of her whistle.  Penalty kick in our favor, who knows why.  Goal for Gehl!

Wait for it.  Wait for it.  In rolls a ball by Justin passed by Gehl.  The game is underway with only the sounds of the coaches filling the air adorned with cheers of praise from the sideline.  No whistle and some uncertainty of the rules.

Slippery hands create multiple opportunities for our Eagles to soar, yet shots off by a few feet with a few missed opportunities.  Did someone move the nets?

Some great passes score the next one with assists by Josh and Cody to Gehl, as Jennifer demes the “trifecta.”

Cheers all around, while the opponents get a goal on the board.

Will you please blow the whistle?

And onward rolls the ball.  With additional goals by Cody, Gehl, Josh, and Cubby. 

The defense recharges their speed and power to protect our Logan with a game ending score of 9 to 4.

Post game excitement flowed with a bloody nose.  Perhaps some tissue would be a helpful addition to the first aid kit though skivvies work just fine.

Go Eagles!

Sunday, May 16
Bavarian Game

May 16th Chicken Dinner Day

Wind, our weekly guest of honor, blew the Eagles to the field after a lunch of Croatian-roasted chicken.  Few opponents found their way to the field before kick-off.  “This should be an easy victory; they don’t even have enough players.”  And then reality struck.

Cookies from Patty – mmmmm. 

No, really.  Reality walked onto the field at about 8 feet tall.  This was a genuine U10 team, every one of them.  Or were they 15?  Who knows.  Who cares.  Our boys are invincible.

Or are they?  That’s right.  They are just little nine year old boys living the dreams of their parents on a lush field of grass on another chilly May afternoon.

The Eagles were not in full flight in the first half of the game.  David and Goliath is called to mind.  But our little Davids did not engage.  Goliath dominated.  Did someone lace the chicken with tryptophan?

Sharp wisdom on the sideline during halftime chased the hesitation away, and the Eagles played on.  David brought his slingshot of velocity to this half and was able to tie up the battle against the mighty Goliath.  Don’t believe me?  See the images of Goliath crashing down on our facebook page.  Images don’t lie.  And the Eagles didn’t either.  The cheer-worthy fact is that the boys did not lie down and accept defeat; they forged on to compete, to change their destiny.

  The game ended with a tie.  Goals in the net by Krupa, Gehl, and Cody.  Shots in, shots missed; opportunities conquered, opportunities lost by the mighty offensive players.  Goal protected by Logan and a defensive team of young masters, still refining their skills one game at a time.

Patty doesn’t need any refining on her baking though.  Did I mention her cookies?  And has anyone seen my spare tire?  Maybe AJ has it . . . . 

Sunday, May 9
Croatian Spring Soccer Tournament

Game 1 on May 8.

Alarm clocks screamed us out of the snug beds at the crack of dawn for a chilly morning of soccer-mania with our little Eagles.  We, of course, were the first team to arrive at our home field, welcomed by the chirps of the birds.

Germantown put up little fight in this game.  Our young ones take the win 8 to 2.  That’s right.  8 to 2.  Some uncertainty on the field, perhaps the sandman left some sleepies in the eyes of a few boys.  Each goal was a victory though and well earned by all. 

Strange sounds from the game – no Big Krupa.  Not really a strange sound but more a strange absence of sound.

Way to go Eagles!

Game 2 on May 8

Doughnuts in the car with the heat on full blast, the boys kept their heat.  AJ bearing cocoa, doughnuts, and snickers from a special date . . . game on.

The weather remained true to Eagle conditions: cold, wet, and crumby.

And so soared the thunderbirds against the Pewaukee giants (literally).  New plays fill the Eagles’ fantasies and leaped into action on the field . . . the header.  Defense faught.  Offense passed.  Another win. 4 to 3.

Game 3 on May 9

A little later start rested us by hours, though nerves about a needed shoot-out plagued a few.  Mother’s Day.  Volunteer Day.  Blessing Mom, Dads and siblings served the park, so we Moms could enjoy the day and watch our little offspring dominate the field once again.

The sweet smell of roses filled the air and prepared our Eagles for the sweet smell of victory.  “Win it for the moms!!”  chanted. Kick-off.

A greater gift I cannot consider.  Thus far, the best game the Eagles have ever played.  Successful goals across the team with footing, shots, and headers totaling 11.  Goals scored on our amazing defense – 0.  “Wow.  That’s just about all I can say.  Wow.”

Happy Mother’s Day!  I give you the gift of my words. . . .

Soccer mom sonnet

(+) sign; life initiated.

Fear, joy, anticipation grows in.

Heartbeat heard. sonic image: limbs mated

first kicks tickle from inside beneath skin.


Sun rises and sets; arrival date’s been.

Time grows on with first words, first steps, first smile.

Will never forget recurring marvels,

“mama” spoken aloud; ball rolls with style.


School’s begun.  Tears fall.  Let him go,

learning letters, addition, to read and to write.

Algebra, AP, physics, history, WHOA!

Kick ball together no matter his height.


My baby boy now a man in progress

Nourished love and life.  Ball rolls to success.


 Did you know?

Did you know that I suspected before the doctor knew?

Did you know my heart spoke to you while inside me you grew?

Did you know I was careful 9 months before life?

Did you know I saw you on screen, heart beating, alive?


Did you know I was first to tell Daddy our news?

Did you know that I felt each wiggle, kick, hiccup, and ruse?

Did you know that I prayed for you each night and day?

Did you know I would have you all over again if I may?


Did you know I first held you moments after you arrived?

Did you know I still hardly believe that you’re mine?

Did you know I fed and loved you from then until now?

Did you know I taught you new words and new sounds?


Did you know that I cried when I sent you to school?

Did you know that I feared other kids might be cruel?

Did you know that I still can’t believe all you’ve learned?

Did you know that I enjoyed every school project you returned?


Did you know that I love every friend you brought home?

Did you know that that it’s nice too just to have you alone?

Did you know that my arms, ears, and shoulder are here?

Did you know that my unyielding love will never disappear?


Did you know that being your mom has changed me?

Did you know that there’s nothing else I want to be?

Did you know?

Sunday, May 2
May 1st & 2nd weekend

Game on April 24 –canceled due to torrential rain at Croatian Park.  SAVE the FIELD!

May 1st The Croatian Eagles vs United Serbs

True to Croatian tradition, the game was running late due to a tardy U18 game on the field.  That being said, it was awesome for the boys and the parents to see the level of play that filled the field with the former State Cup winners.

At the close of the U18 game, the field shrank to the mini-U10 size, the sun snuck away, and the game was underway.  Comments about the size differential filled both sides of the fan lines with special attention to number “sest” or six for our non-Croatian speaking readers.  The elders for the opposition were proud of the team they came to support.  But so were we.

You see, our Eagles are mighty, like the very birds they represent.  And in this game, they soared beating the Serbs 6-1, silencing the opposition, and for the first time breaking into a celebratory “dance” at the close of the game.  Goals were shot by Cubby, Gehl, Krupa, and Josh.  But not really.  Their feet pushed the ball into the net.  Their teammates helped them get it there.  And Logan did what Logan does.  He and the defense guarded the net like Eagles protecting their nest.  Amazing.

Something happened to the boys; something happened to the parents.  Every one of the boys played with tenacity and passion, setting forth skills, moves, and plays with confidence and grace.  The sounds of the game were powerful too, cheers and positivity expelled the mouths of the watchers.  And the boys responded by listening to their coaches and one another.

I can’t neglect to mention the weather.  True to Eagle fashion, the wind picked up ferocious speed, the clouds cast out the sunshine, and rain blessed the field.  Incidentally, Native American legend described the eagle as a thunderbird; its beak like lightning and its spanned wings creating thunder.  Maybe there is something to that with our little eagles.

May 2nd Croatian Eagles vs Grafton Soccer Club

 Field clear but a missing ref pushed the start time of today’s game.  Once again, Croatian tradition.  Who can complain?  We love the sport, the club, and the outdoor season.

News of the Coach Troy’s current medical condition at the heart of many of us, Logan wanted to play for him today.  And he did.

If you’ve ever read the story “Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse,” you know the resonating line, “Wow.  That’s just about all I can say, wow.”  About today’s game Wow is all I can say.

The boys tore up the field.  Again, every one of them.  Final score: 12 -0.  A shut-out.  Brandon, Cody, Cubby, Gehl, Josh, and Logan contributed to goal count.  Cody and Cubby tied with three goals each.  When Josh jumped in the goalie gear, Logan too scored three – though his final header didn’t count.   A memorable goal took him from his feet, to the ground, to his feet, to the goal, and then Coach Dan to the ground.  Logan also won a shiner while fearlessly shielding the goal in the first half, sacrificing his whole body. 

I asked Josh what the team did well today.  He said it was the passing.  I asked Dan the same question.  He said it was the passing.  I saw them doing the same: passing the ball with just the right touches.  They also were willing to pass away from the goal to keep the ball moving.  The wheels are turning in their little heads and the ball is rolling.  Is there room for them to grow?  You bet.  They made plenty of mistakes.  They always will, but they are growing each time.

Again.  The sounds of the game were great.  You see.  What we don’t always realize is that we are contagious.  The boys hear us and do more than just listen, they mirror us.  They believed in one another and in themselves and they cheered one another on.  They followed the direction of their coaches, even when it made little sense . . . .

And again.  The thunderbirds brought their rain clouds. 

Monday, April 19
Puma Cup weekend

Game 1 – fc Peoria 4 to 4


A group of boys kick a ball for the first time on the rec field, and something snapped.  Who saw it at first?  The coach?  Their parents?  The parents of another soccer player?  A friend of a parent?  Who can remember, but each was seen by someone.  A team was built.  Together they embarked on a journey that brought them closer together guided by the wisdom of soccer-Gods.  After a year of trial on the grassy and indoor battle fields, the spring season was on the brink of the horizon.  The Puma Cup.

Reputation preceded them.  Who will they contend?  The best of the tournament, the best opponents in their short careers. 

The scene: a gusty spring morning in mid-April, 2010.

The place: industrial playground of Rockford, IL

Cast: 9 little soccer stars: Cody, Josh, Gehl, Krupa, Cubs, Logan, Justin, Brandon, and Seth.

Goal at the onset: victory over all.

The team assembled for the 10:30 opener with parents lining the side.  Each boy weighted by the fear of defeat for the first time in a long time.  No team chant.  Just the game.  Within moments of the kick-off, the titans fell.  The ball slipped through our goal, and trouble ensued.  Logan hurt.  Gehl wounded.  Krupa strained.  Josh jumped into the goal to fill in for his fallen comrade. Another goal for Peoria.  Oh No.

Thanks to teamwork and delving into inner strength, all the wounded returned to the game.  The Croatian Eagles tied the game.  Josh, Krupa, Cody, and Gehl along with their teammates scored 4 goals in this, the first game of the 2010 Spring season.

Should they have chanted, “Don’t suck?”  Will they ever forget how to throw in a “throw in”?  Only time will tell.

 Game 2 – glsa Libertyville 2 to 2

Game two at 3:30 later that same day.  Wind continued to blow while the sun shone bright, transforming faces to colors renewed.  The boys needed this win against Libertyville.  They knew it.

In the first few minutes, flashes of lightning on the field . . . in favor of the Eagles.  Two goals in our favor:  Cody and Brandon.  Seth’s leg like a powerhouse.  Krupa’s aggression was intact – a quick chat with a whistle and a Ref’s explanation.  The ball passed here and there.  After half.  A change.

Two goals for Libertyville.  The game tied.

The Eagles played on. 

And Hey!  No calls on throw-ins.

Game 3 – international tigers 3 to 2

A night of teambuilding for the team and the families closed early to ensure rest for the Eagles.  After early breakfast, a frosty field awaited them at 8 am.  To move forward in the tourney the soldiers needed a shootout. 

The Eagles soared in the first half.  They were alive; their hearts left on the field.  With teamwork from their teammates, Cody and Gehl ignited two goals on the board.  Halftime.  Logan defended the goal valiantly.

A break in the momentum.  The Tigers roared back in the second half, and our young ones cowered a bit. Though the Eagle’s goal was admirably protected by the fire of shot after shot by the Tigers, three goals for the cats.  No shootout.  A loss.  A what?!

They say that defeat defines a man.  How he responds shows his true character.  Let me say, though disappointed in themselves and the unforeseen outcome of the games, our boys knew they could do better, that they have not yet arrived in the soccer world.  It is safe to say that our boys, our Cody, our Josh, our Gehl, our Krupa, our Cubs, our Logan, our Justin, our Brandon, and our Seth, are earning their character and defining themselves as men on this field.

In the end, The Eagles did not make it to the championship games, and the day closed a bit earlier than expected.  Heads hung low for a moment, but the ball keeps rolling.  The boys keep kicking and passing and talking and learning.  Who knows what the next game will bring?

Wait.  Did we chant, “Don’t suck!”?