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Smorgasbord of opportunity

August 02, 2000

Smorgasbord of opportunity



Greencastle's Meketa eats up soccer opportunity in Sweden

Josh MeketaBy DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Josh Meketa has been a part of a few successful soccer teams at Greencastle-Antrim High School. The victories came after brutal August practices and countless hours of work with his teammates from town.

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Now he's found success the short way, recently competing on the U.S. under-17 National Soccer Ambassador Team at the 500-team Gothia Cup amateur tournament in Sweden July 16-21.

"I met the other 12 guys on the team for the first time in New Jersey when we boarded the plane," said Meketa, a senior defender this fall for the Blue Devils. "We had camp in Denmark for four days, and we clicked like we had been playing together for 10 years. ... Whenever we were on the field, we just fit into a family. It was like, 'Whoa, how are we doing this?'"

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The surprise of Meketa and his American teammates spilled over into the tournament. Last year, the team sent by the U.S. finished, "432nd or something," according to Meketa. This year, though, the team shocked the field, going 4-1 to finish eighth.

"No one thought we could do very well," Meketa said. "Last year we played Italy and Germany and got beat like 16-0. This time, we beat them both. It was a big victory because we were so bad last year. Everyone was saying that the U.S. was coming out of nowhere."

The element of surprise even came out for Meketa's lone goal of the tournament.

"I was throwing the ball in, and the keeper came way out, a big mental error," Meketa said. "The ball hit off his hands and rolled into the net. It was pretty funny. I was like, 'Oh my goodness.'"

The rest of the weekend was business as usual - European style.

"Everything over there revolves around soccer. People respected you just for playing," Meketa said. "When we walked out there, two or three thousand people were applauding, just because you were on the field.

"It was like being a movie star here. Everybody knows what you can do. When we won (our first game), the people at our hotel knew before we told them."

Now Meketa's back in Greencastle, hoping the success he found on one team can carry over to another.

"The playing style there is just different. The way you control yourself on the field? No one yells and screams over there, you just work hard and move on," Meketa said. "Everything is at a high level and you play together."

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