Men’s soccer plays European teams during their summer trip

Ben Blotner 

Contributing Writer 

The College of Wooster men’s soccer team had an opportunity to see a different, unique part of the world over the summer, as they spent Aug. 4-13 playing matches and viewing local attractions in the Netherlands and Germany. Most of the trip was spent in the city of Nijemegen, part of the Dutch province of Gelderland, but it also included day trips to Germany on Aug. 8-9. The Fighting Scots played three matches over the course of the trip; these resulted in a pair of draws and one close loss, as Wooster hung tough against very steep competition.

After arriving in the Netherlands early on the morning of Aug. 5, the team was welcomed by Coach Jan Pruijn, who hosted a training session for the Scots later that day. Wooster head coach Andy Zidron said that practicing with Pruijn “pushed the team in a new way that was very demanding and helpful.” After another practice the following morning with their own coaches, the players went on a tour of the Heineken Brewery before being given three hours to explore Amsterdam on their own. The team’s eventful day concluded with a visit to the Anne Frank House.

On Aug. 7, the team was given a morning tour of the Johan Cruyff Arena and the Ajax Fanshop. After this, the players got to work practicing, as they trained with Pruijn in the afternoon and Wooster’s coaches in the evening. 

The next day saw the Scots make their first excursion to Germany. Upon arrival, they toured Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund as well as the German Football Museum. In the evening, Wooster played its first game of the trip against TSV Meerbusch. Vasili Zestos ’22 and Manny Burton ’20 scored goals for the Scots, but the team fell by a 3-2 score.

The following day’s activities included another practice session with Pruijn and a bicycle tour of the regional German-Dutch border near Kleve, Germany. Later that evening, the team attended a Dutch Second Division match between NEC Nijmegen and FC Eindhoven, which Eindhoven won 2-1.

On Aug. 10, the team biked over the hill and dale Nijmegen’s city center. Once there, they met up with a local tour guide who gave them an extemely knowledgeable tour of historic Nijmegen and Saint Stephen’s Church. Afterward, the boys were let loose to shop and explore. That afternoon, they faced the semi-pro team Alverna, which Jonathan Logan ’22 said was “easily the best team I’d ever played against.” The Scots, however, were up to the challenge, as the defense kept Alverna at bay and the match ended in a 0-0 tie. After the game, the team attended another professional match. This time, it was a contest from the Dutch Premier Division, as PSV Eindhoven squared off against FC Groningen at PSV Stadium.

It was a quick turn around the next day for the Scots, as they played their final game at noon against Rood-Wit and battled to a 3-3 tie. This time, it was Connor Hawkins ’20, Wilson Freije ’21 and Stefan White ’21 who scored Wooster’s goals. Following the game, members of the two teams celebrated by having a drink together. 

After lunch, the players were given free time to relax and enjoy the afternoon before the evening’s activities. That night, the team attended the Sunset March, a daily tribute to Allied soldiers who fought for liberation of the Netherlands in World War II. 

On the final full day, the team was given a free day to explore Nijmegen or Grusbeck. A majority of the team chose to bike back to Nijmegen. The trip concluded with Coach Zidron presenting “We.Work.Hard.” shirts to the hotel manager, Vincent, and to Coach Pruijn. 

Zidron described Groesbeek as an “absolutely beautiful town,” confirming, “I felt like the town is what you might expect from a small European town/village: small and welcoming with lots of farmland once you started to ‘get off the path.’”

Overall, the trip was demanding of the players in its busy practice and game schedule combined with the travel and sightseeing, but it was also a rich cultural experience that enhanced the team’s chemistry as well its soccer skills. 

“The best part about it was watching the players interact in a different setting,” Zidron said. “[It] provided opportunities for deeper relationship building and camaraderie.”

The Fighting Scots take on Calvin College this Saturday, Sep. 14. 

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