The Irish got off to a good start by opening our tour with a 6-1 thrashing of the semiprofessional Formartine United. It was a beautiful day, 70 degrees and sunny! The Scots said it was their first real day of summer - we told them that we were happy to have brought the good weather with us.
The game was played at Formartine's "place" - a field tucked away within a border of trees separating it from the miles of rolling hills that surrounded it. The atmosphere was great for a game. There was a small clubhouse with lockerrooms and a walkway that led to the nice, but mushy field. The only struggle we had was giving up an early goal to tie the game, and then fighting through stiff legs and backs, still a bit achy from the seven-hour plane ride. Other than that, no injuries were sustained, and every Irish player got into the game - except, of course, Al and Luke, who have assumed roles of part-time managers for the trip after their placement on the "injured reserve list."
The first 25 minutes of the game was scoreless, although most of the play was held by the Irish offense. It didn't take long, though, before captain Erich Braun, 10 pounds slimmer than a year ago, notched the Irish's first and second tally to give us a 2-1 lead that only got larger from there. Four other Notre Dame players got on the scorecard, all with exciting goals. "Pablo" Rodriguez, who spent the past spring semester in Mexico, quickly got comfortable with the team and scored the third goal in great Mexican fashion by banging one past the 'keeper from right around the 18-yard mark. That goal took the Irish into halftime with a 3-1 lead.
Two changes were made at the half; Filippo Chillemi came on for Pablo and Devon (Devo) Prescod for Braun. It took Devo no more than a minute to score, probably closer to 30 seconds! He beat a man down the right flank and then went uncontested into the box, beating the 'keeper and making the score 4-1. Rafael Garcia, known to the team as "Rafa," added his one-time finish of a Riley/Richards combination to make it 5-1. Captain Justin Ratcliffe got the sixth goal off of a corner kick that got knocked down at the edge of the box. His, too, was a one-touch finish.
Finishing was certainly the word of the day as several of the goals were really nothing more than half-chances that we found a way to put in. To me, this showed great discipline and focus when scoring opportunities presented themselves - a mark of good players and a good team.
We concluded the game by getting a quick shower and then loading up on the bus, where we sang our traditional fight song (a celebration afforded us only after a victory) followed by our famous ND soccer chant that goes something like this…
"Can you hear the Scotsman sing, Nooo Nooo
Can you hear the Scotsman sing, Nooo Nooo
Can you hear the Scotsman sing,
I can't hear a 'bloody' thing! Nooo Nooo Nooo!"
The master of ceremonies that leads the song and chant is typically he who we deem to be the man of the match. It could have been any of the Irish players today, but the man who stood raised above us all, leading the celebration, clapping and singing, was Christopher "Toph" High. Congrats Toph, on your first Notre Dame start and a match very well played!
It was a sleepy busride home after mingling for a while and hearing stories about the Boss's good ole days in the Formartine Pub - the place where their team and the locals mix after every game. This was an insight into the Scottish culture. On all accounts, Day 2 was a success and a very good time! And most importantly…
May the luck of the Irish be with us all.