LMU MEN'S SOCCER IN COSTA RICA

LMU men's soccer is spending the start of summer in Costa Rica. The blog below is written by members of the LMU men's soccer team as they travel and compete in Costa Rica.


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Day 1 - Will DuBay IV and Sahid Conteh
Our trip started at LAX around 10:30-11 after all of us had gotten our passports and bags checked for the travel we had ahead of us. We took our first flight at midnight, and arrived in Atlanta at 9:00 am their time. We anxiously waited during our layover, because all of us just wanted to be in Costa Rica already. Another five hours passed, and we had arrived in Costa Rica. As soon as I got off the plane I felt the warmth and humidity smack me in the face. We got all our bags and packed up onto a tour bus that took us to our resort. During the bus ride, I could not take me eyes away from the window.

I had heard a couple things about Costa Rica before we had gotten there, and I, someone who had never been, did not know whether what I had heard was true or not. As we had talked about culture before our trip, the 45-minute bus ride was even enough to show me the culture in this country. The culture here is vastly different from that of Los Angeles. As I looked out the window, I noticed a couple things, such as houses being relatively close and looking very similar to cantinas in the local neighborhoods.

As we got to the resort, I almost could not keep my jaw from dropping, it was like we had arrived in paradise. After a nice meal and a quick presentation from our tour guides, the whole team wasted no time with rushing into the ocean, a mere twenty steps from our resort. The sand, in my opinion, was like that of some of the nicest beaches in Florida. It almost caressed your feet as you walked along or into the water. The water was the perfect temperature. I could not tell you what the exact temperature was, but it was perfect. After getting out of the ocean, we immediately got into the pool (twenty steps from the ocean) and continued the water fun there. Once again, the water temperature was perfect in contrast to the outside heat and humidity.

To get our legs moving a little after all the travel, we did a jog and stretch. You could tell we were not used to the humidity, because after a jog we were all drenched in sweat. Soccer tennis was on our agenda next. It was hard to even focus on the ball when there were thousands of bugs constantly coming in contact with us, along with the casual iguana or two hanging out in the tree branches.

Day 2 - Carl Rubschlager and Garrett Amador
Day 2 of our Costa Rican tour started with an early morning breakfast at the hotel. Soon after, we met in the lobby of the hotel to get into the bus to head down to Portegolpe. Our first activity of the day was located at the community’s local elementary school where we played with first and fourth graders. The kids were all ecstatic to see us and honestly I was surprised at how enthusiastic the kids were to do the drills that we had set up for them. At first, the language barrier was a major issue because it was difficult to explain the drills, but as the time went on, I caught on to some phrases and words that helped me to communicate with the kids. This was an amazing experience as the team was able to learn from the kids just as much as they were learning from us. After we left the field, the kids invited us to see their school and walked us through the town to get there. After the tour of the school, we had to say goodbye to our new friends and had the opportunity to donate some soccer equipment and supplies to the school so they can continue to learn and enjoy the beautiful game.

After our humbling experience at the Costa Rican elementary school in Portegolpe, it was time for our first game. Our opponent was a quality side from the city of Liberia, about a hour and a half away from the hotel. The local stadium was huge and the pitch was very well kept. Despite heavy humidity and temperatures above 80 degrees the Lions fought hard to get a 3-1 victory with goals from Alvaro Madrigal, Griffin Bell, and Sahid Conteh. Following the game we had a small ceremony with the opposing side that voted Alvaro Madrigal as MVP of the game for the Lions. With day 2 coming to a close, the Lions headed back to the hotel for some much needed food and rest.

Day 3 - Keith Murphy and Miles Chow
Our day started at 8:30 am with a typical breakfast, (eggs, hash browns, bacon, fruit, etc.) Everyone was excited to get out of the resort and visit the town of Tamarindo. After breakfast, we packed our stuff for our catamaran tour and hit the road. The town was about 45 minutes away and considered one of the most populated towns in Guanacaste. Our tour guide Alejandro told us that most of the people who live in Tamarindo are American or European and that most of the people speak English. Once making it into town, we had 2 hours to explore the town on our own. Several of the guys went their separate ways but all found something interesting to discover. From paintings to hats to small figurines, almost everyone got something for themselves or a loved one. We wrapped up our exploration of the town with lunch at a local resort.

After lunch, we were all anxious to get on the catamaran for our sunset cruise. Just as we got off the bus, we experienced our first major rain of the trip. Half of the group jumped on a smaller boat that drove them out to the much larger catamaran as the rest eagerly waited our turn. Once on the catamaran, the Marlin Tres, we met our crew. After laying some simple ground rules, we were on our way! The catamaran was beautiful and had an upper deck where most of us hung out on our way to a cove. At the cove, everyone took turns doing backflips, dives, and ganors off the boat. Some guys, including Nick Dachout, Miles Chow, and Grant Sampson decided to do belly flops, which they instantly regretted. After that, we went snorkeling and saw many amazing fish. Also, we just hung out in the water supported by pool noodles. The crew prepared a great lunch of barbecue chicken, rice, beans, pico de gallo, chips, and chocolate chip cookies. Before we left, the boys decided to sing a little song to get all the coaches and chaperones to jump in the water. It goes like this; “We like to dive with Krumpe, cuz’ Krumpe is our mate! When we dive with Krumpe, he sees it off in 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 ,1!” With this song, every one of the older adults jumped in the water.

On our way back, we witnessed a gorgeous sunset. Upon getting back to where we started, the sun had just gone down and it was raining a little. We could see big bolts of lightning over the beach as we rode back. We got on the bus and drove back to the hotel. Everyone seemed exhausted and ready to go to sleep. I don’t think anyone is looking forward to waking up at 6 tomorrow and the long bus ride ahead of us. Go Lions and Pura Vida!

Day 4 - Collin Partee and Cole Souza
Today we traveled from Flamingo beach resort to the beautiful rainforest hotel Punta Leona. The bus ride took four hours on the thin two lane roads that traverse Costa Rica. The team kept themselves busy with napping, listening to music, playing cards, chatting and a quick glimpse of Forest Gump in all Spanish. On our way we stopped at a Costa Rican super market. It gave the team a real perspective of how different life can be outside of the States. The store was massive and was filled with all different kinds of brands that we don’t usually see at our local ralphs at LMU.

As we got closer to Punta Leona, we stopped at a bridge that goes across the Tarcoles River, famous for the massive crocodiles that lay ashore and float in the murky water. Although the crocodiles were scary looking with their teeth protruding out, it was very exciting to see them in their natural habitat. There were at least 20 crocodiles in the water and three of them were 12 feet long. We also got to witness one of the locals throw pieces of chicken down to the crocodiles and it was quite the treat to see how the crocodiles eat.  One of the things that freaked us out the most from watching the crocodiles was when they would submerge under water and be completely hidden or when they came to the surface with their snout out of water. Seeing that makes you not want to swim in the Costa Rican rivers!

To end the day, the team got together to do a little fitness on the beach. We walked down to the beach and the coaches had set up three cones in a line on the sand at different distances.  We split up into five lines and had to run to each cone and come back to the starting spot until the third cone was reached. In between each sprint, we did a burpee at each cone to intensify the work out. After two sets of about 10 reps each, 15 minutes flew by and the work out was finished. We then caught our breath and moved onto the next workout. The team made its way down to the edge of the water right where the waves were breaking locked arms and sat on our butts facing the ocean. We did one hundred synchronized sit-ups as a unit.  This activity built our team chemistry because we all had to go down and the time and come up at the same time. If we messed up we would have to start over again. Luckily we made it through one time without to many complications. We finished with a nice team swim to relax a bit before heading back up to the hotel for a delicious seafood dinner provided by the hotel and that is how we finished off another great day in Costa Rica.

Pura vida!

Day 5 - Dante Pezzi and John Bovill
It was 2:45am when we were awoken to the thunderous noises of the outside world. The rain came a knock’n as the skies opened up. As our room began to flash from lightning, our eyes eventually began to close as we drifted back to sleep.  

The hours passed as we tossed and turned to the sounds of mother nature. Eventually we had enough, our neurons were firing and we were up. With an hour to spare before breakfast, we opened our door to see what others had to say. Before we knew it, we were off on an adventurous sunrise exploration (jog). To the beach we ran, to the mountains we climbed, and hurried to make it to breakfast on time.

By 8 o’clock we were off on our way to just south of Quepos on the Pacific Coast, 132 km from San Jose, to Manuel Antonio National Park, known for its hard to beat white sand beaches with an encompassing evergreen forest that creates a humid tropical forest habitat for some of the most intriguing animals in the world. We saw monkeys, sloths, crabs, snakes, and lizards, OH MY! One monkey even stole Krumpe’s backpack, oh wait that was last time, but the monkey did steal a sandwich from Nick’s dad, Patrick. With two hours to spare, everyone went in different directions to explore whatever the national park beach had to offer. Some explored waterfalls, while others climbed rocks, and then we all met up in the water, for shenanigans unknown. With five minutes to spare we couldn’t resist but to launch Jay through the air.

After four hours of exploration and learning with our infamous tour guide Ronaldo.. we began our trek back to the bus. As we spotted a few more colorful crabs in the brush and sloths in the trees, our eyes began to widen as we could see what waited for us at the end of the road. One thousand colona later and fresh coconuts in our hand, our thirst was quenched as we drank coconut water through a straw.

With reflection in mind, our class met to discuss what impacts the culture here has had on us thus far. Five days have passed, our minds have grown as we begin to appreciate and respect the differences and similarities of all our cultures that continue to bring our team closer together.

Day 6 - Paul Lewis and Nick Dauchot
7:30a.m.: The alarm sounds to begin the start of another day in paradise. It was a beautiful sunny morning (quite the change from yesterday’ thunderous start), and on the short walk to breakfast we were greeted with singing parrots, hummingbirds, and iguanas out sunbathing. After being treated to a delicious Costa Rican breakfast (eggs, rice, beans, papayas, pineapples, and mangos) we boarded the bus for Jaco, a beautiful beach city located thirty minutes south of Punte Leone. On the way to Jaco, Alejandro (our tour guide) gave us some interesting insight about the city. Jaco is known for its beautiful beaches with world-class surfing, unbeatable nightlife, and it is the gateway to both Manuel Antonio National Park and Carara National Park. Alejandro also stated that Jaco is one of the largest cities in the Providence of Puntarenas, drawing tourists from all over the world to visit.

The bus dropped us off at one end of the main street, where we were given four hours to explore the city. Right away, we were greeted with street vendors offering to sell knick-knacks and other goods. The streets of Jaco are lined with delicious eateries and artsy shops selling everything from shirts made with mango-trees to artsy local paintings of toucans and beautiful nature scenes. After some gift shopping for Mother’s Day surprises, it was time for a quick swim. Jaco’s beaches are grey-sand with small rocks making them unpleasant to walk across, but as soon as the water is reached, the trek becomes worth it. The warm water makes the ocean especially enticing and the waves at the beach are massive, creating some amazing body-surfing. After playing in the water, we finished up our shopping, ate at a fantastic local restaurant, and headed back to the resort.

Upon arrival at the resort, we suited up for a round-robin soccer-tournament where Antonio Porecco, Connor Johnson, and Rodrigo San Roman took home first place after narrowly edging out Nick Dauchot, Griffin Bell, Sarkis Shaginian, and Dante Pezzi in an enthralling match making it deep into overtime. The victors got to celebrate by joining the rest of the team on a couple hill-sprints…tough way to celebrate... after our last jog, we got to watch the sun begin to set on top of the hill. The beauty helped all of us realize how lucky we all are to be in such an incredible place surrounded by our brothers on the team. The day ended with a delicious Mexican-themed dinner. Tomorrow is game day for the Lions. We will be facing Puntarenas, who are currently in the Second-division of Costa Rican Soccer. Due to the extreme heat where Puntarenas plays, their stadium earned the nickname, “The Cooking Pot”, so our game will be hot, but you count on the Lions to bring home their second victory of the trip no matter how hot. Until tomorrow, Go Lions and ¡Pura Vida!

Day 7 - Alvaro Madrigal and Griffin Bell
The drive to Puntarenas was about 1 hour and 45 min but it was worth the ride because we got to see more of the astonishing land. We drove past rivers, beaches, pastchers, and the small town/villages. At one point we had the Gulf of Nicoya to our left and a beautiful river to our right. Over all wherever you look left or right it will be green, and if you get lucky and look closely you will be able to spot monkeys hanging out, jumping, and playing on the trees.

We finally made it to the Puntarenas stadium and once we got off the bus we could all feel the intense heat. The stadium we played in is nicknamed "the cooking pot" because of how hot it is there and the stadium resembles a "pot." Puntarenas is a second division team in Costa Rica and is comprised mainly of younger guys between the ages of 20 and 17 so we were able to establish a more dominant physical presence in the game. After a grueling 90 minutes, the game finished with LMU on top 3-0. Alvaro madrigal led off the scoring in the first minute after stealing it from their center back outside their 18 yard box. Grant Sampson added another midway through the first half from a corner from Lucky Puengrod. In the second half, Grant finished his second chance to put it at 3-0. Newly minted 22 year old, Colin Partee, kept a clean sheet as well. To celebrate the win, we stopped at a rest spot where they serve famous Costa Rican milkshakes comprised of ice cream, shaved ice, strawberry syrup, powdered milk, and condensed milk. It was a well-deserved treat after a brutal game that we will remember for a long time.The rest of the day was left open to the team for relaxing at the beach and hanging out by the pool.

Day 8 - Sarkis Shaginian and Cruz Corral
Day 8 of our Costa Rican tour started early at 7am, with our bags packed ready to depart from Punta Leona hotel to San Carlos Arsenal Rainforest. While enjoying some delicious breakfast, an abundant of white monkey's joined us. Prior to this, coach Krumpe had warned us about the mischievous white monkeys and their ability to steal your food at breakfast. To say the least, we believed him. It was an awesome experience to examine the monkeys in their natural habitat. As you would assume, we were snapchating the monkeys and taking as many photos as we possibly could.

Not too long after, we got back on the bus for our four-hour drive to San Carlos. On our way to the hotel we stopped at La Fortuna waterfall. Over 400 steps on an exotic trail that lead us to an amazing waterfall in Costa Rica. Most of the team jumped into the pond created by the waterfall but weren't able to go directly under the waterfall because it was so powerful. The waterfall was so strong Krumpe was almost pulled in by the whirlpool the waterfall created. After roughly an hour or so down there, we were back on the road to our hotel. When we arrived to the hotel, we checked into our rooms and recovered with a well-needed nap before training.

After our nap we went down to our hotel soccer field and had a light practice for around 30 minutes. We warmed up with some dynamic jogging and stretching. Then we did some passing drills such as short, short, long and and 10-yard passing. Our team got our bodies right for another tough game on the schedule tomorrow against San Carlos. After practice we showered and had another delicious dinner consisting of fish, meat, mashed potatoes and zucchini. It was a early night for some of the guys after a long, exhausting day. The team rested up for another adventurous day, including our third game tomorrow night. Go Lions and Pura Vida!

Day 9 - Matthew Gooden and Grant Sampson
Waking up at 6:45 and heading to our first breakfast at the Tilajari Hotel Resort, was exciting knowing what kind of fun filled day we had in front of us. At breakfast, we were served rice, plantains, eggs, pancakes, and an assortment of fruit. After breakfast we headed straight to the bus for our first excursion at the new site.

After a short bus ride, we found ourselves at the Arenal Zip Line and Rafting Tours at around 8:30 am. We were greeted by Álvaro, Tony, Marlin, Andre, and Cali who helped us gear up for the upcoming excursion. After a long talk about safety regulations on the zip line, we found ourselves climbing a wobbly metal staircase up to the first zip line starting point. Tensions and nerves began to fly as individuals on the team began to shake the wobbly staircase (Not helping the nerves of trainer, Jeramiah Fraser). Once at the top, the guides began to throw everyone down the 1300-foot zip line, starting with upcoming sophomore Garrett Amador. The views while zip lining were breathtaking, followed by the electric adrenaline rush from the speed. Once all gathered at the bottom, we headed to the next zip line location. The second zip line was much shorter, which as a result, made us go much faster than the first zip line.

After walking through a windy, and steep path, followed by crossing a river, we found ourselves preparing the drift tubing section of the tour. Once we were all debriefed on the safety precautions, we hoped into our tubes and began down the river. The ride lasted for roughly 40-50 minutes, as we traversed through a windy river, while avoiding rocks, boulders, and tree trunks. Multiple people fell out of their tubes, as the water began to pick up speed when we approached steep, but short, drop offs. Some team members treated the experience as a race, and tried to beat people down the river to try and get to the finish as fast as possible. At the end, we were given hot cups of sugar cane water, to warm up our cold bodies from the river. We were also treated with a nice lunch consisting of rice, beans, chicken, pasta with tomato sauce, plantains, and beef stew.

Once we got back to the hotel, the players then began to prepare for a game later that evening against San Carlos. There was a moderate amount of precipitation at the time of kick off, which was at 6:00 pm. The game was fiercely contested, as there were many yellow cards given for fouls from both teams. At the final whistle, LMU came out with a 2-0 victory. Goals were scored from Sahid Conteh early in the first half, as well as from Cruz Corral halfway through the second half. Assists were provided by Lucky Puengrod and Cruz Corral. Lucky Puengrod was named LMU’s man of the match for the second game in a row. At dinner, we ate breaded chicken cutlets, spaghetti with alfredo sauce, potatoes, and an assortment of vegetables. Overall, it was a very fun day that was filled with lots of adrenaline and excitement, and we cannot wait for what is in store for us tomorrow.

Day 10 - Rodrigo San Roman and Lucky Puengrod
We woke up at 7:15 a.m. today ready for the adventure that was planned. We ate breakfast at the San Carlos Arenal Rainforest Hotel and left for our first activity of the day soon after. There was a special feeling for today unlike any other days because we were really excited about zip lining after getting a taste of it the day before. As we were getting prepped for our adventure, I could feel the sweat dripping from my head and my stomach felt like it had dropped. Our bodies were sore because of a tough game the night before and the nerves were creeping in, but once the adrenaline of the zip lining kicked in it went right away. First, we started off inside a tree line, unaware of what we were going to see. As we zoomed past it we saw one of the most beautiful views we have ever seen. There was rainforest, a volcano, and a majestic sight of the ocean. Me and Lucky had never seen a volcano in person and were blown away. When you are looking at people go down you do not realize how fast they are actually going until it’s your turn. The thrill had me hooked and I did not want it to end after going through seven lines. The last one, the fastest, was the best of the day and I would have gone through the whole process over just to experience it again. It was also the longest line and had a hole in between the trees in which we came flying in. After we were done we got to check out some amazing pictures some of the staff took and were lucky enough to have Pat Dauchot buy them for us.

After one of the best adventures of the trip, we were left starving. We left the zip lining to have lunch with UNC Asheville at their hotel. There was a clear tension between us because our schedule for the fall had been released a couple days before and we were to face each other this coming season. At first, most of us were not talking to each other and it was awkward, but once we started sharing stories it became clear that we were having similar experiences in this beautiful country. The lunch was great and as they left to face the team we played the day before, we left to go on another adventure

Up next was the hot springs at the Baldi Resort. The second we got there we found slides that were water park tier. We spent around 2 hours going on the same 4 slides because they were so fun. After we were done with the slides, we decided to check out the rest of the resort. We found a natural sauna that was scolding hot. We couldn’t stay in for more than 5 minutes because it felt like we were breathing in fire. We also notices that the higher you go, the hotter the water gets and some of the water got up to 120 degrees fahrenheit. It was crazy to think how hot the water was naturally. This hot water also made us very tired. We were drained by dinner time and were ready to go back to our hotel after a long day packed with adventure.

Day 11 - Antonio Porreco and James Tanake
Today on May 19th, we had breakfast at the Tilijari Hotel at 8:15 a.m. and saw a family of iguanas. The biggest iguana was around 4-5 feet and they came very close to us while eating breakfast. We were allowed to feed them so we gave them bananas and leftover pancakes. At 9am we left to go white water rafting. We got there around 10:30. The rafting was very fun and thrilling. We were split into groups of 4-6 people for each raft and every group flipped and fell in the water. Some parts of the river had very strong rapids and currents. For lunch we drove near a cow farm and ate some very juicy chicken, rice, and beans. For dessert we had pineapples with condensed milk, which was something new for all of us. Afterwards we learned how to squeeze sugar cane in a trapiché. Grant, Garrett, and Cole volunteered to squeeze out the sugar cane, making 75% juice and 25% fiber. Before we headed back to the hotel we went around in a circle each saying our favorite part from the trip, in which almost every person said getting closer as a team and finding out new things about each other. As soon as we got back to the hotel, there was a huge lightning and thunderstorm which lasted a couple hours. At 6:30, we had a meeting with Prof. Schaukowitch. Everyone said something that struck them about Costa Rica on the second half of the trip. Dinner was American style with fries, hot dogs, and fried chicken. After dinner, we had a team meeting where we decided 4 words to put up in our locker room as pillars for our team mentality to live by on and off the field on a daily basis. Then it was off to bed to get ready for our early start in the morning. Pura vida! 

Day 12 - Connor Johnson
Woke up early to eat breakfast and check out of our hotel by 7. We drove through an urban part of Costa Rica to reach the dog shelter. The dog shelter was amazing. We took two separate shuttles to reach the top of the large hill where the center was located. Upon entering there were a number of dogs who were wandering around outside of the cages where the majority of the dogs were held. All of these dogs wanted attention or at least were friendly. It was a little bit uncomfortable

getting there and realizing that you were surrounded by a potentially large number of fleas and ticks that were undoubtedly on the dogs. All of them were scratching themselves and I naturally overreacted every time I felt something touch my skin. However, the worries soon went away and everyone enjoyed the different characters of each dog and the love they had to offer and craved to receive. Once the entire group arrived, we heard all of the dogs getting riled up and piled toward the opposite side of the cage. 

Then we started walking up the hill with the uncaged dogs to an unknown destination. We walked pretty far and spread out for a few minutes with a handful of dogs and then the majority of dogs must have been released as a massive surge of dogs sprinted down the twisting path toward the destination. The path cut through a small creek which was very slippery, but none of the dogs seemed to care. We arrived after a difficult amount of walking to a large open field where a majority of the dogs chased the shelter staff around like they were following the leader. I'd assume the purpose was for the dogs to get their exercise. Some of the dogs were injured, old, or lazy and were just enjoying the view and open space. While other dogs drank from the outside, the golden retriever jumped inside the water hole and drank! Many of the dogs enjoyed coming up to the people and getting pet. As we prepared to leave, you could tell some of the dogs did not want us to leave. We left dog land to arrive at the Wyndham hotel which was gorgeous. It is an upscale hotel that did not seem to hint at the fact that we were in another country as the other hotels did. I like the scenic other stays, it would be easy to forget that we were in Costa Rica at this hotel, but it was appreciated because we were all pretty exhausted and grateful for the fast wifi and comfort. Lunch was one of the best prepared meals we have had so far. After a few hours rest in the hotel, we hopped back onto the bus to head to the soccer game against Heredia. We beat them 3-1 in a pretty one sided game. We drove back to the hotel for our final dinner where we were able to thank our tour guides, coaches, and administrators for this incredible trip.

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