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Men’s soccer experiences traveling the world

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Men’s soccer experiences traveling the world

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

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After 12 years of waiting, Marquette men’s soccer completed a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

During spring break, the team went on its first foreign tour in program history and visited head coach Louis Bennett’s homeland, England.

“This rounds off a student-athlete’s experience,” Bennett said. “Our sport demands a lot of time so (when) we can do this, we kind of are paying (the student athletes) back.”

“The trip gave us a good idea of what England is like,” sophomore defender Josh Hancock said. “I feel like the team got a really good taste of what England can offer.”

Donars helped fund the trip.

Senior defender Patrick Seagrist documented the entire trip in a seven-minute video.

“Personally, whenever I go to travel—whether it’s with friends or family—I always make a recap so that in the future I can look back at something (as) a memorable experience,” Seagrist said. “This was a trip of a lifetime, and I wanted to capture every moment I could. In the future, I could show my friends and family. People who are coming to Marquette in the future can look at what we experienced so we can give back.”

Highlights of the trip included visiting London and Manchester, witnessing two Premier League soccer games, a Union of European Football Association Champions League game, competing in four matches against professional teams and of course, sightseeing.

Bennett said the team packed a lot into the trip including training, visiting Oxford University, touring London, seeing the queen and going to a professional soccer game.

For Seagrist, one of the more memorable moments was going to professional soccer games.

“The difference between the professional games (in the United States) and the professional games (in England is) there’s a lot more of an atmosphere overseas,” Seagrist said. “(The) fans are more involved (and) it seems like the players are in a sense more passionate because it’s their lives basically.”

Bennett said in England, soccer is not just a sport. It’s a “tribal following.”

“It’s a part of the culture. There are a lot of people where (going to soccer games) is their hobby—it’s their passion—and I wanted our guys to feel that,” Bennett said.

Seagrist compared the atmosphere of a soccer match in the Premier League to the atmosphere of American football games.

“To put it in perspective, it’s the craziness of an NFL Super Bowl game times an absurd amount,” Seagrist said.

Marquette also played four games against professional teams based in England. They faced professional teams’ youth squads:  Hundersfield Town U19, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC U18, West Ham United U18 and Oxford United U23.

Marquette went undefeated, winning three games and having a draw against West Ham U18.

Bennett said he put his players outside of their comfort zones in terms of on-the-field play.

“It’s very interesting for our guys to see that (the opponents) are playing for their living,” Bennett said. “They are only 16, 17, 18.”

Seagrist said the level of play during the four games was quicker and more physical.

An example Seagrist gave about the intensity was in regards to free kicks. In college, when a team takes a free kick, they might take a little more time to set up. In England, they play the ball right away.

“I got the feeling (our players) were grateful for the opportunity of playing (against professional English teams),” Bennett said.

Now Bennett is hoping this generation will help the next generation go on a trip.

“When they leave here and they’re 10, 15 years into their own careers, I think they’ll want to give back so that the next generation can go,” Bennett said. “I’m kind of proud of that.”

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