RIC Menís Soccer Remembers 9-11

By Brian Buonaiuto

 

As we approach the first anniversary of September 11th, we all remember the horrific events of that day. The country stood still and all eyes were focused on New York City and Washington D.C. Many people went home from work to be with their families in this time of national mourning.

Many people struggled to stay at their jobs and get through the day. That is something the Rhode Island College menís soccer team knows all too well. On that fateful day, while many other games were cancelled, they played their scheduled match vs. Rivier College in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Sophomore goalkeeper Jason Nelson remembers how he first heard about the World Trade Center attacks. "A kid in my class came in late who heard it on the radio. At first we thought he was joking."

Head Coach Len Mercurio, who works as a Master Control Operator for WPRI Channel 12, remembers the shock of that morning. "We broke in with a special report. At first we thought it was an accident, but after the south tower was hit we knew it was something much bigger than that."

Like many other college athletic programs across the country, RIC had games scheduled to be played later that afternoon. The decision to play was not an easy one to make. "I talked to people in administration here and the people over at Rivier and decided it was something positive to bring people together," said RIC Athletic Director Don Tencher. "People were glued to the television all day, we wanted to take them away from that for a while."

For Coach Mercurio it was tough getting his team ready for a soccer game. "Everyone was absolutely petrified by what we witnessed. Going on with the game was an attempt to return to normalcy. We just wanted a return to stability."

For stopper Josh Nelson it was not an easy game to get pumped up for. "When I found out what happened I didnít think there was any way we would play, but you have to treat it as any other game."

The mood of the game was somber with few fans showing up. "The feeling at the field was surreal. We had a moment of silence before the game and the players just tried to go out there and give it their best," Mercurio says.

Though Rhode Island College lost that game 3-0, playing that game was a victory in itself. In an odd twist of fate Rhode Island College will face Rivier College once again on September 11th.

Now that a year has passed and the country has had time to reflect, the mood figures to be a little different this time. When the soccer teams goes out to play its match on September 11th it will be with a heavy heart, but a tougher resolve. This time instead of playing despite the tragedy, they will be playing to honor the victims.


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