Buczek, Leonard Player Blog: U.S. U19 Trip to Long Island Time for Bonding
Hey guys, my name is Connor Buczek (#19). I'm an attackman at Cornell and a member of the 2012 U.S. Men's National Under-19 Team. Myself and fellow teammate and attackman Joey Leonard (#7) from Towson will be blogging weekly to keep you guys updated on the team during our quest for a gold medal in Finland this July.
We spent last weekend in Long Island, hosted by coach John Jez at C.W. Post. After four days of grueling two-a-days we went out and beat the Long Island All-Stars, 12-4, at Mitchel Field on Saturday night. Attackman Matt "Kavanaughty" Kavanagh (#25) stole the show, putting up four goals and an assist.
This was our first step on the road to a gold medal, but there were plenty of good times spent off the field as well. We worked hard on the field, but there were also 23 of the best under-19 players in the country working towards becoming a cohesive unit through many bonding experiences.
One of the most exciting parts of the weekend for all of us was the gear handout on Wednesday. We felt like little kids on Christmas morning as we waited anxiously to finish our physicals so we could go see all of our gear laid out in our lockers. The gear we received definitely lived up to the great anticipation.
Some of the highlights of the week weren't necessarily on the field but during the down time we had between practice and the exhibition. For any of you guys who play video games, you understand the power that an Xbox has to bring people together. NHL and FIFA were the games of choice for the squad, as intense games went to all hours of the night. (By the way, don't tell coach.) We found out that Kavanagh, Ryan Tucker (Virginia, midfield, #2) and Rob Zoppo (Towson, midfield, #15) were the masters of the sticks by weekend's end.
We also found out that these weren't their only impressive talents. We found out who had the hardest shot on the team when we brought out the radar gun after practice on Saturday morning and during the clinic on Sunday. Ryan Tucker, Steve Pontrello (North Carolina, midfield, #21), and Mike Tagliaferri (North Carolina, midfield, #14) were the only players to break triple-digits from 10 yards. Tucker was the leader with a blazing 103 mile per hour cannon. Most of us were pushing for it, but none of us could touch Tuck's velocity from 10 yards.
Next, the grand architect, Charlie Raffa (midfield/FO, Maryland, #6), created what became affectionately known as the mountains and valleys in our dorms. Picture the most epic fort ever made and multiply it by 10. There were sets of bunks with three beds high in two places. These were known as the mountains. Then between the mountains we had single beds, serving as the valleys. This is pictured to the right.
Finally, after our win on Saturday night, we had probably our favorite time together on the party bus that drove us to and from the field for the exhibition. The bus was bumping some nice tunes and the strobe lights were going hard so one of our goalies DJ Zoom (Zack Oliveri, UMass, #29) took over the music and a dance party broke out. There was a pole conveniently placed in the middle of the bus and this became the main attraction as mayhem broke out on the dance floor. Many dance moves were impressive, but Rob's "Teach Me How to Zoppo" dance to the song "Teach Me How to Dougie" by Cali Swagg District was exceptional. Closely followed by the tenacity shown by Greg Danseglio (Virginia, defense, #20) as he brought down the house and the pole.
Overall the weekend was a blast and can't wait to get back with these guys this weekend.
Lastly, just wanted to send a shoutout to our great coaching staff, athletic trainers (Chris and Mandy), and our equipment manager (Jay) aka the man with the gear.
Check in with us next week as we fill you in on our adventures in Philly.
P.S. Each week we'll fill you guys in on our word of the week and song of the week.
Word of the week: #swagoo
And check out below a video from the weekend, handing out team "awards" with (left to right) Ralph D'Agostino, Leonard and Buczek. Video by Lane Errington.