Friday, November 22, 2013

MAS Soccer Team Moves from Humble Beginnings to One of the Best

by Frank Villanueva

Editor's Note: This is a more extensive story about the soccer match against Lewis & Clark that was covered on the MAS journalism blog on October 20, 2013.

The sun is shining, the smell of freshly cut grass is in the air, and players are slowly making their way to the green field as the start of another match gets on its way.  The Guardians are preparing themselves phyically, spiritually, but more importantly mentally for their match against the men of Lewis and Clark.  The pressure to keep their undefeated season is ever present in the minds of these players.

However, the challenges these men faced were challenges with which the Guardians were all too familiar.  From their inception until now, the men have endured several challenges over the years.  In a press conference given to the Mount Angel Seminary journalism class, Dr. Andrew Cummings, fellow teammate, center midfielder for the Guardians, and faculty advisor to the team, shared with the students the history of the soccer team.

"It wasn't always this great in the past," Cummings said.  "There was a time when we would only have two or three teams to play against."  The undiscovered team at the time would have to scramble to get other teams to challenge them. Now, the Guardians belong to the Cascade Collegiate Soccer League.

This year the team has a full season schedule that is packed with 10 games, and among the seven teams in their division, the Guardians have a reputation as being one of the best in the league this season.

Dr. Cummings shared how soccer has helped to make a name and face for the seminary.  "Many people had no idea that we even existed before we came to be part of this organization" he said.  First-year seminarian and player Felipe Villalobos of the Diocese of Orange said, "It can be tough to try and focus on the game and be an aggressive player while maintaining the image of a seminarian at the same time."

Villalobos, who played outside and defensive midfielder against Lewis & Clark, said, "It could conceivably be difficult to associate a seminary whose main focus is to form men into priests [with a soccer team]."  Before they entered the league the lack of knowledge from other teams about Mount Angel Seminary having a soccer team made it difficult, at that time, to schedule games and build up a soccer program.

The commitment required to play such a sport also poses a challenge for the young team.  Richard Hardisty of the Archdiocese of Portland said, "It can be difficult to get your mind into the game when we have our studies waiting for us back at the seminary."

In one aspect of their formation growth, the seminary instills the importance of commitment into the students at Mount Angel Seminary.  They are told that their commitments to sports should be just as important to them as any other commitment they have here on the hilltop.  Villalobos, who played for many years before entering Mount Angel Seminary, said, "The commitment needed to play at club level is the same here in the seminary."  He also added, "These men have to juggle soccer, their studies, prayer life and everyday seminary life, so the players work just as hard at the game as some of my fellow teammates I have played with in the past, and in some cases work even harder."

These challenges will continue to arise as the Guardians meet new opponents and juggle all that is thrown at them.  The Guardians will meet these challenges with courage and determination.

Richard Hardisty scores against Lewis and Clark
Video by Sister Hilda Kleiman, O.S.B.

The game against Lewis & Clark ended with a goal made by Richard Hardisty, making the score 1-1.  To date, the Guardians have a record of 5 wins, 2 losses, and 2 ties. They have one game left in the season.

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