Monday, August 30, 2010

30 AUG 10: Dawg Walkover

In a way, the early exit of Columbus Northern from the Little League World Series was good for me. It allowed me to take a long Sunday road trip without feeling guilty about missing something - and without having to search frantically for a portable TV set to watch in the car, while I was driving down the interstate.

College football season started early for me, as I traveled to Athens for a women's soccer game. It was a lovely.... what? What are you saying? Well, most of the world calls soccer "football." Of course, players hit the ball with their heads about as often as U.S. football players actually hit the ball with their feet.

I went to Athens because Georgia was hosting my alma mater, Kansas. The last time Kansas brought a soccer team to this part of the country, the Jayhawks edged Auburn 1-0 in overtime [20 Sep 04]. And the last time I watched a K.U. team play in person, it was the men's basketball team which won a national title [19 Dec 07]. Put me together with another Kansas team, and a new dynasty might start.

The Kansas-Georgia game was played at a complex in Athens that's been dubbed "Soccer City, UGA." I get the feeling it's going to last longer than Columbus's Zoo City U.S.A....

With no traffic delays at all, I arrived 40 minutes before kickoff. Women's soccer games have free admission at Georgia, as they do at Auburn. And the parking lot had plenty of open spaces - which is good, because no homes are nearby to charge ten dollars for space on the front lawn.

The Georgia softball stadium is next door to the soccer grounds - and it was unlocked, allowing me to stroll around the warning track. The stadium managers apparently have connections with Golden Park, because the scoreboard clock showed the wrong time.

Several soccer fields also are near the main stadium. This allowed me to watch Kansas warm up. The Jayhawks looked sharp to me, after a season-opening win Friday over Eastern Kentucky. But then again, maybe players in eastern Kentucky work on soccer skills by kicking tin cans of baked beans.

I didn't realize until I arrived at the game that Georgia actually was hosting a women's soccer doubleheader. The first game was ending, with North Carolina-Greensboro unsettling Utah 1-0. Now that's the Utah team Nick Saban wants to put on his schedule....

About 20 Jayhawk fans joined hundreds of Georgia supporters in the crowd. One of them was a Fayetteville, Georgia dad whose daughter was recruited by Kansas as a goalie. It appeared Kaitlyn Stroud might go to Minnesota, but that school sent a two-line rejection notice by e-mail. And I thought Sarah Jessica Parker had it bad on TV, with that breakup by Post-It note.

The Georgia soccer team took the field with a "Dog walk," much like area football teams have. They did NOT walk past a Bulldog statue under the bleachers which faces midfield. At least I'm assuming that's a statue - and they haven't run out of crypt space for dogs at Sanford Stadium.

So how did the Kansas-Georgia game go? Uhhhhh -- how about all the clouds and rain we had in Columbus over the weekend? Wasn't the weather.... huh? What are you saying again? OK, if you insist:

10:00 IN: Georgia is controlling the early play, winning nearly all the balls in the air. A couple of Jayhawks are acting like they're playing dodgeball.

The Bulldogs gain several early corner kicks - which are marked by the public address system playing a drum roll. Fans in the stands respond by stomping the metal bleachers. If not for that, you might mistake the crowd for library science majors.

15:00 IN: With the game scoreless and play continuing, it's time for the first sponsored "T-shirt toss" of the day. A young man walks in front of the bleachers and throws them - instead of using one of those launchers, which might hurl shirts into the parking lot.

21:00 IN: Georgia's hard work is rewarded, as forward Ashley Miller kicks in the first goal of the game. Coach Steve Holeman replaces her with a substitute a couple of minutes later - almost like it's fourth grade, with every player getting a chance to score.

(Please do not confuse Georgia's soccer coach with the Atlanta Hawks radio announcer. The Bulldogs have Steve Holeman. The Hawks have Steve Holman - and the Hawks have the man much more likely to get upset at officials.)

33rd MINUTE: Kansas gets a shot on goal. Sadly, it's the first one of the day - while Georgia has about eight. The Bulldogs were well on the way to a perfect game.

36th MINUTE: Susannah Dennis scores for Georgia, to make it 2-0. Oh Susannah, I want to cry for thee....

The Kansas fans justifiably have very little to say. I try to start a couple of "Rock Chalk" chants without success. One man below me keeps saying, "Come on, girls" - seemingly not realizing this is WOMEN'S soccer at the collegiate level.

HALFTIME: Georgia goes to the clubhouse with a 2-0 lead. The Dogs are dominating - ahead 12-2 on shots and 7-0 in corner kicks. But the foul count is even, so you can't blame even the referee for this.

While Georgia goes to the clubhouse, Kansas players remain at their bench throughout the halftime break. Perhaps there's no room for them, with a four-team doubleheader. Or perhaps it's a "teaching moment" straight out of the Bear Bryant days.

I go to the stadium concession stand at halftime, and find that's where you get to make up for free admission. A small bag of popcorn costs $2.50. A souvenir Georgia cup full of soda costs four dollars. About the only food discount came when the staff looked for the loudest fan, to deliver a pizza.

I return to my seat with a souvenir cup of Diet Coke and a small bag of popcorn, which I actually put on a credit card. I offer my theory to the fellow Jayhawk fans for the halftime score -- Kansas simply isn't used to playing on Eastern Time.

Children get to take the field during the halftime break. A young female goalie was busy during the first half along the sidelines - and seemed to be the only security guard on duty. Even more shocking, Georgia hasn't even planted hedges along the fence.

56th MINUTE: Georgia's Susannah Dennis pads the lead to 3-0, after a sequence of passes as well-executed as you'd see at the World Cup. At this point, the Bulldogs look like Spain - and my old college might as well be the Faroe Islands.

74:44 IN: A Kansas defender falls to the field with cramps, stopping the game. This puts the Kansas score sheet at cramps 1, corner kicks 0.

80:46 IN: Kansas goalie Kat Liebetrau misses a couple of high balls in her direction, leading to a fourth Georgia goal. Kaitlyn Stroud and her father may have made a wise college choice after all.

87:50 IN: A Georgia player is left unmarked, deflects the ball off Liebetrau's chest and kicks in a fifth goal. The Dogs clearly chased down this Kat and wore her out.

Georgia wound up crushing Kansas 5-0 - and clearly the better team won. The final shot count was 26 to four. Yes, I drove six hours round-trip to see my Jayhawks take FOUR shots on goal! Would someone in Lawrence please upgrade the club ice hockey team?

-> A little piece of bread crust keeps stealing the show at our local poker tournaments. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Back in U.S. football, the TV news lets you vote on the high school "play of the week." We may have the first complaint of the week....

How unsportsman like to run up a high school football score 63 to 0..You can give me every excuse you can think of,but nothing justifies that score..I wonder if the winning coach thought about trying some 50 yard field goals or putting in the JV team..Come on ,give the kids a break...

I asked about this online Sunday, and one man told me Carver's junior varsity DID play in the fourth quarter against Spencer - and scored 22 points. Imagine what could have happened if the Carver players still attended that run-down old high school.

But one comment left at the Ledger-Enquirer website claimed Carver was passing the ball with a 35-0 second-quarter lead. The fact that the pass followed three Isaiah Crowell rushing touchdowns apparently was beside the point....

Let's shift now from sports to Sunday news, starting with an item which led to a desperate request for me to track down information:

+ A Columbus State University spokesman told your blog a "person of interest" was being questioned, for firing a shot outside the Courtyard I apartments. John Lester said a campus alert was NOT issued because no one was injured, and there was no threat or risk to students. That's also why no alerts are likely during next year's NCAA rifle championships.

+ Columbus Police made several arrests, after finding an alleged illegal poker game inside a Buena Vista Road beauty salon. The "cutting" may change after dark from hair to decks of cards....

+ Northern Little League announced a welcome-home event will be held for the Southeast Regional champions tonight at Shaw High School. Let's all remember the lessons from four years ago - by having someone bring a stop light, to end the speeches by politicians at two minutes.

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