By George Raphael-McElroy ‘23

I recall being dragged to my brother’s soccer game between Brother Rice and Marist known as the Pulaski Cup. While witnessing my first Pulaski Cup, I loved the exciting atmosphere and looked forward to coming back the following year. The games were always close in score and the environment made you want to keep coming back every year.

Now that I am a senior on the BR soccer team, I got to experience the excitement firsthand. When we first got to Marist everyone acted normal but the whole team knew this was a huge game that would be challenging. The football team was still using the turf, so we went to the grass field and started to get warmed up.

When we were finally able to get on the turf field to finish our warm up, the band was blaring in our ears; this was not going to make this game any easier. Throughout our warm up, team huddle, prayer, and playing of the National Anthem, I truly felt sick to my stomach just thinking about how we could not lose this game. I kept trying to get it off my mind, but no matter what I did, the thoughts of losing to Marist kept slipping back into my head.

As the kick off whistle blew my heart finally started to slow down beat by beat. For the first 10 minutes of play, Marist was sending long balls from their back onto our half of the field and remained in possession of the ball on our half until they finally punched one in. Although it was not a great start, I did not let my nervousness take over. I knew we still had time to come back.

We almost got a goal scoring opportunity, but one of our players was fouled in the box. We immediately were angry and yelled how that was a foul. As the ref blew his whistle and called the foul, everyone was excited knowing that we were going to get a penalty kick. Jimmy Gricus, sophomore and captain, was called to take it. As he lined up the ball, my heart began to race; we really needed this goal, and Gricus delivered.

For the rest of the half, both teams played great soccer but as the half ended, we were a little relieved knowing that it was a tie game. Coach Prunckle and Coach Mac gave us a great halftime talk and got us hyped and ready for the final 40 minutes of play by talking about what we needed to do to come out victorious. If we did not come out ready for the second half, we would lose.

The first 30 minutes of the second half were fought hard by both teams. With the help from one of our team captains Roman Harris, who controlled and played on our back line, we were able to keep Marist from getting too close to our goal.  We all know that if we did not score another goal, we would have to go into penalty kicks, which is one of the most anxiety inducing moments in sports.

With less than 10 minutes left on one of our several scoring attempts, the referee called a hand-ball on a Marist player. We immediately started to cheer, since this was our time to finally have full control and the lead of this game. Prunckle called on Gricus again to take this penalty. As usual, Gricus scored the penalty and gave us the lead.

The last 5 minutes after the goal Gricus scored were still very tough, but for some reason, it had felt like we had already won. As the whistle to end the game blew we all rushed to the center of the field to cheer with each other. These are the moments we live for. We were handed the Pulaski Cup trophy and were all jumping together full of excitement, knowing that we took down Marist in a great game!

Jimmy Gricus, who took both penalty kicks, said “I was very excited because I wasn’t thinking about missing. I just knew that I was going to step up and score.”

The Pulaski Cup is now back where it belongs! Coach Markulin would be very happy.