Editor’s Note: Join us in welcoming Frederic Larsson to LaxAllStars! Fred will be one of LAS’s resident “Brit abroad” writers this year as the UK native spends the school year in the US at Cal State Long Beach in Southern California. He will be sharing his experiences in the States all year on LAS! If you missed his first few entries, check them out here!
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The Winter break saw the majority of players return to their hometowns for Christmas celebrations with their families. I stayed here in Long Beach and my family and girlfriend came out for a winter holiday (without the snow!) and we had a great time being tourists around the Los Angeles area. Although we didn’t have any official practices over the break, many of us went to pickup games to maintain our stick skills as well as hitting the wall and the gym. The break did, however, allow me to spend some time recovering from a hefty check to the knee I took in a preseason tournament between CSULB, UC Irvine and UC San Diego.
We hit the ground running when we returned with training starting the week before classes. Everyone’s schedules were now cleared at practice times so that we could get full team practises all of the time, which was difficult during the fall due to our training times being changed last minute. During this time we finalized our offense and defense, making sure everyone is on the same page when it came to our first game against Cal State San Marcos.
We had faced San Marcos in San Diego during the fall (which you’ll remember if you’ve been following my posts) and we only lost then 6-5, which was a good effort considering we were down a few players. Coming into the regular season game the team felt relatively confident about playing San Marcos once again. It was an away game and you could sense the mood was far more serious than the games we play in the UK – not to say we don’t take it seriously across the pond, but this was on another level. The warmups were more like a regiment of soldiers getting ready to battle compared to the more relaxed approach the majority of teams take in England. I was also surprised at having to play the national anthem prior to playing. Safe to say I had no clue that everyone looked at the American flag when this was being played and so was wondering why the crowd had their backs turned to the players! Nevertheless, the game did not go so well for CSULB. San Marcos was the better team, far more athletic and organized than we were, not to mention the abundance of substitute players, probably the biggest bench I’ve seen in a game I’ve played in. We ended up losing to the Cougars 19-6. I did manage to bag one goal, running down the right alley and placing it bottom left. The loss left us 0-1 in our division, MCLA SLC Division II.
The following week we would face Claremont from the league above. We came into this game off the back of a heavy loss, as well as lacking a couple of our own players who were unable to make the game. Nevertheless we came into the game strong-willed and ready to play as best we could! The game started with Claremont getting several goals right off the bat as our defense was left in the dust, although we did manage to get back on our feet after letting a few goals past that we ideally would’ve been able to stop with better communication. We came back in the third quarter with some of our better plays all year, both on offense and defense, however, in the end we lost 19-5. The team felt a lot better after this loss than the first, though, as we played together more than the week before. All in all it was definitely a lot of fun playing at Claremont, and some of us went for some post-game Korean BBQ – another first for me!
In our next game we faced Cal State Fullerton for our first home game. Even the cheerleaders were there, something you’d never see in games I play back in Leicester, but unfortunately it was a lopsided win for Fullerton. Nevertheless, we’ve been practicing hard during the week and hope to bring it for our remaining games.
Keep an eye out for my next post as I keep you all posted on the season with CSULB and my time playing here in sunny So Cal!
Photos courtesy of Emily Bird and Chris Brignola.