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CLERICUS-KICKOFF Mar-2-2012 (190 words) xxxi

Seminarians take to the soccer field in annual Rome tournament

Pontifical North American College seminarian Nick Nelson of the Diocese of Duluth, Minn., plays in his team's season opener last year against the Pontifical College of Brazil. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- More than 350 seminarians and priests from 71 countries will take to the field in early March for the kickoff of the sixth edition of Rome's Clericus Cup soccer tournament.

The spring 2012 tourney will feature 16 teams from pontifical universities, seminaries and religious orders vying for a trophy of a cleat-wearing soccer ball sporting a wide-brimmed clerical hat known as a saturno.

The Pontifical North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome, placed fourth in 2011; team captain Daniel Gallagher, a seminarian from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said March 2 the North American Martyrs plan to make some noise in the 2012 season.

The first-year class at the NAC "is the most talent class we've had," he said, and the team has seven new players, many of whom will be starters.

"It's definitely the strongest team we've ever had," he said.

Gallagher said he's expecting great things particularly from New York archdiocesan seminarian Mark Paver, a native of Manchester, England, who has had some semipro soccer experience.

Play begins March 3 and concludes with the championship game May 12.


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