U.S. seminarians finish second in soccer match

By Carol Glatz

Catholic News Service

ROME — Even though Superman, Spider-Man, Batman and Robin were cheering with super gusto for the Pontifical North American College soccer team, the NAC Martyrs finished the Clericus Cup tournament season in second place.

The team, fielded by the U.S. bishops’ seminary in Rome, lost 1-0 to three-time champion Redemptoris Mater in a hard-fought game May 29.

The opposing team’s winning goal “was unfortunately almost exactly the same way they won last year,” said David Santos, the Martyrs’ coach and center midfielder.

For the second straight year, NAC made the finals. Like last year, the Martyrs faced the team from the Neocatechumenal Way’s Redemptoris Mater seminary and, also like last year, the Martyrs lost 1-0 after the same “Red Mat” player made the same play off a corner kick to nab the champions’ cup.

“It was horrible to relive that experience. It was deja vu,” said Santos, a second-year seminarian from Kearny, N.J.

Along with a second-place trophy, the NAC team also won an award for “Best Fans.” Super heroes such as Superman, Spide-Man and Captain America turned out for every game, waving American flags and rallying the fans. Elvis, King Kong and the Chiquita banana made special appearances for the final game.

One seminarian set up a full drum kit next to the stands and provided backup to Captain America — second-year seminarian Carmelo Morales from Amarillo, Texas — who played a “keytar,” an electric keyboard that is held like a guitar.

Santos told Catholic News Service June 1 that he was thrilled to see how well the team played against such a strong and talented squad.

“This year we had more technique, better ball maneuvering and more strategic play,” he said.

The winning team “had worked just as hard to win as we did, so (their win) was well-deserved,” he added.

The Clericus Cup tournament for priests and seminarians studying in Rome was established in 2006 and first played in 2007; the fourth season saw 373 seminarians and religious from 65 countries playing.

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