The quiet of the St. Paul campus was disrupted by the claps of thunder sticks and the cheers of a thousand strong. Fans flocked to Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium to indulge in free pizza and celebrate Gopher soccer. Inside the press box, an exuberant mood mirrored the excitement of the multitude.
These Friday night lights featured a different kind of football, yet for once it all seemed the same. A packed house (most of which did not leave before halftime), Goldy entertaining fans young and old, promotions such as Golden Gopher Bingo, and the Minnesota Rouser evoked memories of Minneapolis. Wrestlers, tennis players, and cross country runners alike joined in support of their fellow athletes. The event did not seem to warrant the attention of the Big Ten Network, but neither did the crowd seem to mind a game free from commercial interruption.
Most importantly, the players did not disappoint. The enthusiasm of the fans was met with stellar, dominating play. At one point, I found myself stunned to see a barrage of shots assault the south goal, as previously the vast majority of action had occurred on the other end of the playing field. Even more bewildering was the fact that the crowd had been loudly applauding this effort. Suddenly, I realized it was Minnesota who was again applying the pressure. I looked at the clock. Halftime had just ended. The teams had switched sides.
The fervor continued. Popular loudspeaker tracks such as “We Will Rock You” elicited the clapping of hands and stomping of feet. Indeed, the atmosphere was so vibrant that an ambitious young group of adolescent girls attempted to start the wave. That was perhaps too much to ask, however, as the inspiring initiative failed miserably. Delighting in delectable Domino’s pizza from my perch within the press box, I gleefully witnessed a great game.
Not long after the players left the field, the stands too had emptied. The garbage had been gathered and the press box had been cleared. No longer perturbed, the pristine St. Paul campus gained its peace once more.
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