September 2, 2016

On the Road with Alex Ranalli

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Sept. 2, 2016

Senior midfielder Alex Ranalli shares his experience on the road as the Buckeyes head west for two non-conference games over Labor Day weekend in Oregon. The No. 25 Buckeyes take on Portland at 10 p.m. ET Friday before facing Oregon State at 3 p.m. ET Monday in Corvallis, Ore.

Monday, Sept. 5
The final day of our west coast trip began, yet again, with a hotel breakfast. It’s going to be nice to have some variety when we get back home. The food, however, was the least of our worries as kickoff was in just four short hours. We were all buzzing as we sat down to eat, all of us ready to get out on the field again.

The morning flew by and we simply napped or killed time in our rooms waiting for kickoff. It was a familiar walk over to the game field and before we knew it, we were warming up for the final time on this trip. Unfortunately, after a little over 100 minutes we suffered another overtime defeat. The boys fought hard but came up just a bit short today.

As the trip comes to an end, I would like to just say thanks, for both myself and the entire team, for all the support we have received on this trip both on and off the field. We truly appreciate everything our families, the athletic department, and especially our fans do for us. It was incredible to see all the love shown for us Buckeyes even on the opposite side of the country. While the trip did not go how we would have liked, we appreciate all the support. We host our conference opener against Northwestern this Friday at the Jesse and I know all the boys will be raring to go. Hope to see you all out there!

Sunday, Sept. 4
Day 4 began, yet again, with breakfast out on the patio overlooking the harbor. I know everyone is really going to miss this view. Breakfast was taken quickly as we needed to get moved out of our current hotel and into the next one, so we all piled back into the vans and hit the road.

J Bird (so many different nicknames for this guy) insisted on showing us as much of Oregon as possible so he made sure to get stuck in an hour of traffic as well as missing our exit just to see a little bit more of the Oregon countryside. We owe you one J-money.

With all the time spent in the vans it was understandable when everyone started to get a bit stir crazy. Young Jack Holland stepped up again to keep the group entertained with a prank or two until team enforcer and star running back Yaw Amankwa smacked him back into line.

Even with all the entertainment the trip felt like it dragged on for hours (Thanks again Jason!) so everyone was relieved to finally be pulling into the hotel parking lot. We had time for a quick pit stop in our new rooms to change before we headed back out for training. Oregon State’s game and training fields were right around the corner from us so we all took the opportunity to stretch our legs a bit as we checked out the setup for tomorrow afternoons matchup. Before we knew it, cleats were on and we were zipping the ball around the field. A bit of keep away started up with the freshman again volunteering to step into the middle (showing some great initiative guys, keep it up) before a quick finishing exercise took place. Some tactical instruction followed and then practice was concluded. A sharp hour long session was just what we needed to get our bodies and minds ready for tomorrows game.

We walked back to the hotel, showered and dressed and were on our way to dinner. A bit of pasta was enjoyed by all before we wrapped up the evening nice and early to get some rest.

Saturday, Sept. 3
The morning started once again with an early wakeup call and breakfast. The harbor view was just as impressive even on Day 3. After breakfast we made the all too familiar trek into the vans and set off for a local Ohio State establishment here in Portland. We were greeted by a large number of fellow Buckeyes and proceeded to watch the first half of the football game with them. The hospitality was incredible. It’s always amazing how large the alumni network at Ohio State is.

For all intents and purposes the football game was wrapped up by halftime and we piled back into the vans confident of yet another Buckeye victory. Our next destination was to be Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in Oregon. Seeing as it was a bit of a drive to get out to the falls, Nate Kohl made sure we stopped multiple times for him to use the restroom. Needless to say the whole van was thrilled by his severely undersized bladder.

As we started to get closer and closer to the falls young Jack Holland continued to impress with his impeccable music selection. The boys were getting increasingly more excited to see such an awe inspiring natural landmark up close, Michael Dichlian especially. “Dirty Mike” was pressed up against the van window in order to get the best possible view. That man really appreciates his nature, what a guy.

After the falls, we turned back around and headed back towards the hotel. A long relaxing drive was once again interrupted by Nate Kohl’s incessant need to use the facilities. The constant talk of waterfalls, rivers, and lakes probably didn’t help him much. Some free time back at the hotel was enjoyed before the all too familiar sight of the vans was scheduled to be enjoyed yet again.

We headed out to dinner where our gracious hosts John and Heather, some fellow Buckeyes we had met this morning, were set to entertain us for the evening. The boys enjoyed a great meal, full of expertly smoked wings, some superb tri tip barbecue, and numerous other dishes each even more delicious than the last. Buckeye nation really is something else. Thanks again John and Heather.

Friday, Sept. 2
Our second day here in Portland began with an 830 a.m. wakeup call and breakfast overlooking the harbor out back of our hotel. After breakfast, we piled into the vans and headed out to Beaverton, Ore., to tour the Nike world headquarters. Following a long travel day, the boys were a little tired on the ride over and the jokes were at a minimum but once we arrived the group livened up.

We were fortunate enough a tour of campus by none other than former Buckeye placekicker and Columbus Crew midfielder, Devon Barclay. Devon currently works in the North American Nike complex but was kind enough to show us around his old stomping grounds. The group was constantly in awe at the names, photographs and statues of legendary athletes all across campus. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any of these athletes in the flesh but the tour was still an incredible experience. How lucky we all are to be Buckeyes.

After the tour concluded we headed back to the hotel for a quick nap or maybe an episode of our favorite TV show. The pregame meal was served right down the road but that didn’t stop J-Rule from trying to lock us all in the van. What a character.

We eventually broke out of the van and made our way to lunch. Everything was ticking along smoothly, Holland was back in fine storytelling form, until young freshman goalkeeper Brennon Davis decided to spill his water cup all over the table, surprising no one. Lunch itself was very good and we walked back to our hotel to rest up quickly before the night’s match.

We were greeted at Merlo Stadium by both a hostile student section and an incredible group of traveling Buckeye fans. It’s a great feeling to be able to look up into the stands in any stadium and see both familiar faces as well as fellow Buckeyes. The support we receive from both alumni and family is truly incredible and it cannot be understated how thankful we all are.

Regrettably, the game finished with a 2-0 loss for the boys. We battled hard all 90 minutes and were slightly unfortunate to be denied a goal on multiple occasions. While the mood was understandably a bit sullen directly after the final whistle, a quick team meeting in the hotel once we returned had us looking forward to the next game Monday with a renewed sense of determination to get out onto the field and set things right. An early morning awaited us so the boys were off to bed quickly to get the recovery process going as soon as possible.

Thursday, Sept. 1
It was an early morning for the boys traveling out west to Portland, Oregon. Arrival time at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center was set for 7:30 a.m. and no one dared to show up late. Transportation ran smoothly to the airport as the group began to get back into the swing of things regarding our travel routine. A few of the guys were clearly a bit out of practice as multiple players (looking at you Soldat) were stopped by TSA for various grievances such as leaving water bottles in their carry-on bags or forgetting to place laptops in separate container for security. Fortunately, these minor hiccups were sorted out quickly and the group was ready to start the first leg of the journey west.

A quick 45-minute flight south to Atlanta was no problem as the boys passed the time with their favorite TV shows, music or maybe even a quick nap. Before we knew it, leg one was in the books. A quick bite to eat and all of a sudden were boarding again. Four and a half hours later we were greeted by cooler temperatures and a light drizzle which was certainly a welcome change.

Check-in at the hotel ran smoothly and there was barely time to set our bags down before the boys were back in the vans heading out to the University of Portland for a light training session. Our trainer, Jason, was put in charge of one of the three vans and decided he would be taking the “scenic” route to training today. Showing up to the practice field 15 minutes late with a third of the guys probably wasn’t in the original plans but we certainly appreciated the views. Thanks J!

Once the stragglers arrived, the session began. There was a noticeable sense of energy amongst the group as Tyler, our strength and conditioning coach, ran us through our paces. A quick game of keep-away in which a few of the freshmen were kind enough to volunteer to be in the middle for was enjoyed by all before training culminated in a finishing exercise. Us field players beat the goalies, of course.

Back onto the vans we headed for a nice dinner downtown and the chance to enjoy even more of each other’s company. Young freshman Jack Holland kept his van entertained with some top-notch storytelling (his roommate Nichols is thrilled to be sharing a room with him all week), while the dinner itself was truly enjoyable.

After dinner, it was straight back to the hotel as the long day of travel and time change had taken a toll on the boys. A few guys hung around in the lobby attempting to play shuffleboard while most headed off quickly to bed in order to catch up some much needed rest in preparation for the big showdown tomorrow evening.