A tale of two sports: COVID-19’s impact on football and men’s soccer seasons

Julian Ramirez

The football and soccer teams at Washington and Lee have both faced challenges throughout the year. 

Due to the high number of cases and strict quarantine measures, the football team was “never able to get a full week of normal practice.”

“Every time we felt like we were beginning to flow, 10 to 15 people would end up in quarantine or isolation,” said Paul Pivirotto, ’23, a placekicker on the team.

The shuffling of players eventually led to problems on the team.

“We started out the spring at a workable disadvantage because we had people in the right spots, so it wasn’t too worrisome,” Pivirotto said. “But [we] eventually hit a brick wall every time stuff started to flow again and guys had to go back into quarantine or isolation.”

Ultimately, due to the inability to have normal practice the coaches decided to withdraw the team from ODAC. 

“That was a really tough decision for the coaching staff to make to take us out of ODAC play,” Pivirotto said. “It was frustrating. COVID just didn’t allow us to compete at the level that we needed to. It just wasn’t coming together.”

Pivirotto was especially saddened that the seniors lost their last football season.  

“The most disappointing thing was that the class of 2021 didn’t get to have their final football season, and the rest of us didn’t get to have one last year with them on the field,” he said.

The team hopes to be able to hold some scrimmages against other schools this season.

“I don’t want to call them exhibition games during the spring” Pivirotto said. “But I’m hopeful we’ll get some sort of play to get some energy.”

Although the spring season has been a disappointment, the team looks forward to the fall season.

“We can take this opportunity to get ready for the fall. The unfortunate circumstances of this year have prevailed, so there’s nothing left to do but look forward and be optimistic about the fall. The world will return to normal, and so will Generals football,” Pivirotto said.

Washington and Lee’s mens soccer has had a dramatically different season than the football team. The team has been able to play in-conference games, and defeated both Southern Virginia and Eastern Mennonite last week.

Erik Recke, ’21, team captain, laments restrictions the team has faced throughout the year but is grateful they’re able to play.

“It’s definitely harder to get better as an entire team. It’s been a lot more individual [practices] this year, but the team is coming together now that we can practice and play together,” Recke said. 

The soccer team has been lucky enough to only experience one cancelled game.

“We [made up] one on Tuesday and one on Thursday. One game was fully cancelled,” Recke said. “There’s two games left in the regular season and then we have the ODAC tournament.”

Recke attributes the team’s ability to continue play to senior leadership and dumb luck.

“We have five seniors left on the team. I think it makes the younger players feel more obligated to have a season,” he said. “We’re lucky enough to have the ability to.”

The team captain looks forward to finishing the season and is confident in the team’s ability.

“The next [few] games will help with our record. We’ve played less games than other teams,” he said. “The team is playing pretty well and executing better than people would expect.”

The soccer team’s last game before the tournament, an away game versus Lynchburg, is scheduled for April 3rd at 1 p.m.