Sports activities Pulse: With the entirety converting within the sports activities global how will it impact faculty soccer this season


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — There was once no site visitors pulling as much as the stadium. No tailgating to be discovered. No enthusiasts within the stands. No band taking part in. Large performs had been greeted no longer with cheers however with silence.

However there was once faculty soccer Monday night time with the Exertions Day prime-time sport that historically completes the outlet weekend of the season.

That Brigham Younger and Military each entered unranked supposed little. There was once a sense of standard once more after the COVID-19 pandemic in advance ended the school basketball season in March, and left the Large Ten and %-12 sidelined q4.

Unfortunately, the sport didn’t meet the anticipation as BYU jumped out to an early lead and rolled to a dominant 55-Three highway victory.

In all probability, the street victory will have to have an asterisk. This was once no longer the standard surroundings for a sport at Military-Marine Corps Stadium.

Lacking had been the highlights of house video games performed simply outdoor the academy grounds. There was once no flyover. The nationwide anthem — sung by means of the Naval Academy Glee Membership — was once performed at the video board with each groups off the sector. And when the Midshipmen in any case did take the sector it was once eerily quiet.

The sphere was once the similar postgame as a recording of the Military alma mater was once performed with each groups massed close to the Military bench.

“We’ve by no means been in a stadium like this,” Military trainer Ken Niumatalolo stated.

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Military Midshipmen stand for the “Blue and Gold” after the sport in opposition to Brigham Younger at Military-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. (Picture: Scott Taetsch, USA TODAY Sports activities)

Observing from an enclosed press field can sterilize the revel in of a sport. That was once no longer true Monday. The blowout almost definitely contributed to it. Nonetheless, one thing remained off.

“It was once bizarre seeing the empty stands,” Midshipmen defensive again Cameron Kinley stated. “Felt like a scrimmage I assume it’s essential say.”

To its credit score, BYU didn’t let the surroundings and an abnormal preparation have a power at the show within the nationwide highlight.

“We knew we would need to have a large number of pastime and pleasure,” Cougars trainer Kalani Sitake stated. “However that is not anything that I attempt to generate. Those guys have that angle of appreciation and gratitude to be right here. They felt truly lucky to play this sport. They confirmed it.” 

As an indication of the wanted flexibility and odd nature of school sports activities within the coronavirus technology, the groups weren’t even scheduled to play originally of August.

Notre Dame and Military had been intended to play in Eire on Aug. 29 That sport was once then moved in the summertime to Exertions Day weekend in Annapolis. When the Irish determined to play as an Atlantic Coast Conference member this season, they were not allowed to play a non-conference game on the road. BYU lost its opener against Utah when the Pac-12 decided to play a league-only schedule before eventually shutting down. In search of an opponent, the schools came together quickly and found themselves in this showcase just more than a month later.

Brigham Young’s Jake Oldroyd kicks an extra point against Navy during the second half at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. (Photo: Scott Taetsch, USA TODAY Sports)

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The showcase was mostly for BYU. Whether this was a sign of how good the Cougars are or how much retooling Navy needs after tying a school record for wins last year remains to be seen.

Such an impressive start is bittersweet.

In addition to losing the opener against Utah, BYU also lost Power Five games against Michigan State, Arizona State, Missouri and Stanford.

Without the opportunity to prove itself against bigger teams, the Cougars won’t be in contention for the College Football Playoff or the New Year’s Six unless some weird things happen. They’re still hoping to add more games, though you wouldn’t blame anyone for passing on playing them after this performance. Chalk it up as another causality of the pandemic.

While putting too much emphasis on Week 1 can be dangerous, Niumatalolo and Navy are faced with a big challenge. It’s hard to tell, though, as COVID has drastically altered how teams can prepare for the season.

Blaming himself for the loss, Niumatalolo said he emphasized safety over a traditional training camp. While that helped avoid a coronavirus breakout, it didn’t help his team get prepared, especially without the benefit of spring practice.

“The last time we tackled anybody was the bowl game (nine months ago),” Niumatalolo said. “I’ve coached here a long time, we’ve never seen a Navy football team play like that.”

But those team concerns are for another day.

Tonight – even with the mismatch closing out a weekend mostly without drama — was a night to celebrate the official return of college football. It was a return that seemed improbable a month ago.

Fingers crossed we’ll have better games and more drama just like before. It will just be experienced differently.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith.


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