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By P. J. Cunningham, Junior Reporter

For the fist time in program history, the soccer team will be taking a summer trip overseas to the Emerald Isle from June 4-15 to participate in a series of exhibition matches. A total of 20 players from three different classes will attend the trip.

The traveling RedHawks include juniors Jimmy Valek, Max Lacey, Martin O'Connor, Michael McClorey, Troy Olrich, Brody Doyle and Kevin Brennan, sophomores Marc-Anthony Carreon, Liam Bennett, Sam McNamara, Aydan Wtlson, Connor Cooke, Vinny Tuminello, A.J. Dix, Colin McGuire, Pat Maxwell and Brendan Chesniak and freshmen Bryson Roberts, Quinn Richards and Danny Olsen.

Bennett and McNamara's fathers were both born in Ireland and have been soccer fans since their youth. Mr. Bennett and Mr. McNamara get the credit for bringing the idea of the RedHawks playing in Ireland to varsity head coach Sean Maxwell.

"When they approached me last Marcb I was excited,." Maxwell said "I knew that this would be an awesome experience for our players and I am very grateful to Mr. Bennett, Mr. McNamara and the rest of the families for helping to organize this trip."

Maxwell said that the team will head to the town of Carrick in Tipperary County to train for one week before participating in a tournament against teams from local Irish clubs.

The RedHawks will train with Carrick's local soccer team, Carrick United FC, before playing them in a friendly game on June 8. The squad will also take on Portlaw FC and Southend United, two teams from Waterford County on June 9 and 11. They will then train again on June 12 before competing in a tournament at Tom Dorman Park in Dungarvan, Ireland on June 13.

The RedHawks are very excited about the trip, as well as the chance to play against Irish teams and improve their skills.

'We're all really looking forward to this trip," Lacey said. "From what I've heard about Irish soccer, it's a much faster pace there. I think training and playing in Ireland will help us make quicker decisions and will teach us to play faster overall."

Maxwell knows that the Irish game will be something new for the players, but he thinks they are up for the challenge and will gain new skills on this trip. He is glad that he can share this experience with his team.

"! believe that this trip will be invaluable in preparation for not only the upcoming season for many of these player􀂖 but really, an awesome experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives," Maxwell said. "! was luck-y enough to travel overseas for a soccer trip when I was 16, and I know that it gave me an appreciation of just how important this game is to the world. The towns in Europe shut down for youth tournaments, not to mention for something like the European Cup. I hope the boys will have an memorable experience as well."

Bennett is especially excited, as he will get the opportunity to train with the same club his father played for. "My dad is from Carrick and played for the team we are training and playing with," Bennett said. "I'm also hoping that we can gain a new experience playing overseas as we learn how the game is played in a different part of the world"
Because so many players will be going to a foreign country for the first time, Maxwell wants to make sure they learn about Irish culture as they tour the country.

"This opportunity will help our players recognize how popular this sport is internationally and give them a chance to experience Irish culture," Maxwell said. "We plan to hike in the Carrick Mountains and go kayaking on the River Suir near the small town we will be staying in. We will spend our fust two days and nights in Dublin and we are also planning a day trip to Waterford"

During the past year, funding for the trip came through the generosity of a m.nnber of donors, including parents and program alumni.

'We had several fundraisers that were very successful," Maxwell said. 'We had a soccer alumni gathering at Franklin's Pub in October and a raffle drawing held at Reilly's Daughter in December. Both events were successful in helping defray costs for our players. I am very grateful to everyone who contributed and I hope our players recognize how formulate they are to have this opportunity."

Like the rest of his teammates, McClorey believes the upcoming trip will only add to the many good times they have shared as a team. As he looks forward to his senior year, he believes the trip will help make his final year as a RedHawk soccer player even more memorable.

"Soccer has allowed me to grow as a person as well as a player," McClorey said. "I have made good friends, improved in the sport and I hope to continue this growth on the trip. I'm so grateful that our team has been given this opportunity and I hope we grow closer because of it."

After one of the best season finishes in team history at sectionals last fali the RedHawks hope that this trip will send them into next season with improved skills and the luck of the Irish.

Members of the RedHawk soccer team gather by goal at Red and White Stadium last fall. For the first time in program history, members of the RedHawk soccer program will travel overseas to Ireland this summer to train with and play against local teams.

photo by Sean Maxwell

February 2020

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