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Muhlenberg College

Friday, September 19, 2008

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on the road with the mules

Muhlenberg athletes travel to away games during their seasons, and many continue their travels in the offseason, either through study abroad or a team-sponsored international trip.

Eight Muhlenberg teams have gone on overseas trips during the summer this decade to various locations in Europe and South America. For many Mules, it is their first time out of the country, and they come back from these trips not only closer to their teammates, but also with a better understanding of the world.

For a rundown of the international trips, please click here.

The latest team to travel out of the country was men’s lacrosse, which jetted to Ireland and England this summer. Below is an account of the trip:

The Muhlenberg men’s lacrosse team enjoyed a wonderful nine-day European tour with stops in four different cities, two lacrosse games in Dublin, Ireland, and visits to some of the most historic sights in both Ireland and England. The travel party was comprised of 20 players, two coaches, and a host of family members.

The group took a 6:30 Aer Lingus flight out of JFK and arrived in Shannon, Ireland, where they were introduced to their tour guide and then proceeded to take a two-hour drive to Killarney. Before arriving in Killarney, the group stopped in the small village of Adare and took time to learn the medieval history that has had a profound influence on the strong cultural values that are shared in the country today. Upon arriving in Killarney the group was provided with a welcoming dinner provided by the hotel and given a basic tour of the small Irish city. Killarney is a small town located in Southwestern Ireland with a population close to 8,000.

The following morning the travel party met with Paul (the bus driver) and was taken on an all-day tour of the Iveragh Peninsula. The Ring of Kerry The peninsula, which is better known as the Ring of Kerry, is a popular destination for many visitors of the country and includes some of the nation’s most impressive natural scenery. The countryside tour was mainly comprised of mountains, valleys, and beaches which combined for a breathtaking outdoor experience. There were also several different shops and cafes that were situated on the mountainside, overlooking the cliffs and beaches. These restaurants gave the travelers an opportunity to eat lunch and enjoy the impressive landscape. Later in the afternoon the team participated in a conditioning session in preparation for the upcoming games.

Before arriving in Dublin the team took a two-hour trip south of Killarney and visited the famous Blarney Castle. The medieval structure was constructed in 1200 AD and has been one of the most recognizable pieces of architecture in Irish history since it was rebuilt in 1446. For a chance to kiss the Blarney Stone a tourist must climb to the top of the 72-step spiral staircase and hang upside-down while grasping onto two metal rods that are cemented above the stone. According to Irish culture, kissing the Blarney Stone gives a person the gift of eternal eloquence. After eating lunch in the city of Cork the team returned to the bus and made the five-hour trip towards Dublin where it would compete against the Dublin Lacrosse Club.

The first game was set to take place at The University College of Dublin and would give the Mules an opportunity Mules vs. Dublin to prepare for the following game against the Irish National Team. Although there are slight variations in the rules of the international game, Muhlenberg did not have a problem adjusting as it held a commanding lead throughout the contest. Senior attackman Andrew Lolley and junior midfielder Ari Jacobson combined for three goals. Juniors Paul Munday and Al Carpetto contributed two goals apiece. A strong defensive effort was led by junior Matt Schroeder and sophomore goalie Mike Horowitz, holding the Dubliners to only three goals in the contest. At the conclusion of the game the players of each team exchanged sweatshirts and shorts.

After the contest Muhlenberg returned back to the city of Dublin and took a tour of the largest athletic stadium in the country, Croke Park. The stadium’s all-natural pitch is close to double the size of a lacrosse field and is surrounded by a stadium capacity that can hold an impressive 83,000 people, making the structure the fifth-largest athletic complex in all of Europe. And for those familiar with Irish history, Croke Park is also the sight of Bloody Sunday, a defining moment during the Irish War of Independence. On November 21, 1920, 14 British agents were killed by the Irish Republican Army. In retaliation, British forces opened fire on the audience at a Gaelic Football match at Croke Park, killing 14 civilians

In their contest against the Irish National Team the Mules were able to continue the success they experienced the previous day, jumping out to a commanding 6-0 first-quarter lead and Mules vs. Irish National Team never looking back. Sophomores Zack Armstrong and Brent Siebold each found the back of the net in the first few minutes of the game. Defensively, Tom Brant and Will Garrity each picked up five ground balls while sophomore goalie Oliver Baron had several stops on the day. After the game the Irish National Team and Muhlenberg had time to have dinner, take pictures and socialize.

Early the next morning the Mules boarded a 10:00 flight heading east towards London for the second portion of the trip. The Tower of London was among one of the first stops made by the traveling group. Erected in 1078 to protect royal family members, the castle is surrounded by both newer and more traditional architecture, which is located in the center of a popular tourist area along the Thames River. Travelers also took time to view the St. Paul’s Cathedral, a 17th-century building that is also located on the Northern bank of the Thames. The 300-step journey to the top of the medieval structure allows the traveler to have a breathtaking view of the entire city and allows people to admire the detailed craftsmanship at the apex of the cathedral ceiling.

The final day in London was an opportunity for the Mules to tour the city at their own pace and visit sights they had a specific interest in experiencing. Some members took a ride in the world’s largest Ferris wheel, a tourist attraction that allows a person to see the entire city from a height of 450 feet. Others decided to experience the different types of art exhibits and museums that London has to offer. The House of Commons, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace were also among historical locations visited during this portion of the trip. A team dinner was held in the hotel after the group returned from sightseeing, bringing an end to the successful and enjoyable two-week-long trip.

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