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 CNS Story:

CLERICUS-NAC Mar-12-2007 (340 words) xxxi

North American College buries French in seminarians' soccer cup

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- The North American Martyrs put on a talent show in the second round of the Clericus Cup soccer tournament, burying the French seminary team 4-0.

The win March 10 left the squad of the Pontifical North American College undefeated in the tournament so far. Sixteen teams made up of priests and seminarians in Rome are competing in the tourney, which ends in June.

Backed by the tournament's biggest cheering section, the Martyrs struck quickly against the Pontifical French Seminary. Three minutes into the game, Daniel O'Mullane launched a perfect pass to fellow co-captain Jaime Gil, who feinted past the goalkeeper and shot it into the net.

O'Mullane later had another assist and also scored the Martyrs' final goal.

The only time the French came close to scoring was on an arching shot from near midfield that Martyrs goalie Andrew Roza managed to tip away at the last second.

No fouls were called, and the game was a model of sportsmanship. The tiny grandstand was filled with Martyrs fans, who waved American flags and sang "God Bless America" at the end of the game.

Next to them were six French seminarians, who showed up in clown noses, wigs and loud horns to cheer their team on. Their chants of "Our Lady of Victory, pray for us!" subsided as the game progressed.

"It's wonderful just to see the enthusiasm and the participation," Father Yves-Marie Fradet, rector of the French seminary, said after the game. Their team, fielded from a student body about one-third the size of North American College, was already struggling in the tournament after two losses.

The Martyrs, on the other hand, seemed well positioned for the rest of the tournament. After playing a total of seven games in March and April, eight of the original 16 teams will advance to single-elimination playoffs in May. The semifinal and championship games are scheduled for June.


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