With a phenomenal defensive effort and an explosion of early offensive power, New H blew open the door to a soccer dynasty Tuesday before last, capturing the 2002 HBS championship by knocking off the defending champion and highly favored Old I in the shadows of Harvard Stadium.
With their 4-2 victory the H’ers claim the first ever “Golden H-Boot”, the trophy henceforward awarded to the HBS intramural soccer champion. The finale was a storybook ending to a wild roller coaster ride for the New H squad and their notorious fans, the Hooligans.
The H’ers opened the match on fire with a frontal assault that, like a catcher without a cup, clearly caught the unsuspecting OI off-guard.
After winning an early corner kick in the 5th minute, the H’ers reached into their Lucky Charms and pulled out a rainbow, as Pierre “I actually did crash land my plane in the desert” Pujol tucked a tricky back-heel into the side netting on a near post run. Two minutes later, the H’ers struck again and thrilled the 40+ Hooligans prowling the sidelines to extend their lead to two. With 5 minutes remaining in the half, Brian “T-Bone” Caputo, (AKA Tech Rep) ripped a right footed shot past the OI goal line to extend his consecutive scoring streak to ten games and give the H’ers what appeared to be an insurmountable margin. Each team added a goal in the final three minutes of play, allowing H to carry a 4-1 lead into the half.
After the game Caputo, who also continues to lead the universe in sports clich‚s (417 on the season) commented on his record-breaking streak.
“I don’t really want to talk about the streak. What is important is the way our team came together on the field today. There is no doubt that OI was stronger on paper, but once again we’ve proved that you don’t play these games on paper. We really stepped our game up to the next level and pulled out all the stops. This team showed a lot of character on the pitch by finding a way to win. I’m just happy I could make contribution.”
The three goal half time advantage allowed the H’ers to make some tactical changes during the second half as they chose to employ the infamous “Hold On With Your Freakin’ Life” strategic initiative. Like a 1985 Wendy’s drive through, OI beefed up its offensive attack and repeatedly launched shots on frame. Molly “Is that all you got?”
Hellerman proved up to the challenge denying several close range shots in a brilliant effort to prevent OI from equalizing.
OI quickly struck back to pull within two goals and continued to mount an aggressive attack on the H’ers net. With 3 minutes to play, Omar “The [Expletive] Wall” Abou-Sayed earned his nickname by clearing a sure goal off the line. The H’ers held tight thanks to the stubborn defensive effort of Kevin “The Squasher” Matto, Maximo “Gladiator” Hang, and Hooligan favorite Winston “2 Packs a Day” Kung. The H’ers held on to their 4-2 advantage and rushed into the arms of the Hooligans at the final whistle.
Uppington responded after the match in an exclusive interview, “I’m so proud of this team. Every single person here came to HBS for the sole reason of winning this championship. Sure, you may hear them talk about bettering their careers and changing the world, but deep down the real answer is that they are at Harvard for section soccer. Everything that these individuals have worked for during the last 10 years of their lives has finally come to fruition.”
When asked to expand on his tactical strategy, Uppington summed it up with unprecedented wisdom, “I spent two full days planning, and re-planning our strategy, finally issuing a one page document to the team. After hours of analysis I came to the conclusion that the best way for us to win was to score more goals than we allow our opponents to score. As you can see, we executed perfectly.”
With yesterday’s championship, the H’ers have closed their season with 8 straight wins, answering the criticism founded by their 0-2 start. Their winning streak has been extended to 53 days, 13 days longer than it rained on Noah and 12 days longer than a pregnant sea lion carries cubs.
Clearly this turnaround is one that outranks the work of Gerstner and makes the Dancing Elephants of IBM look like nothing more than a couple of groundhogs doing the electric slide. Fending off a coaching controversy, critical injuries, substance abuse accusations, federal indictments, and Hooligan riots, the H’ers have not just survived, but have walked away with the one thing that every MBA student in the world hopes to one day claim, the HBS IM Soccer Championship.
Just how did the H’ers turn around their sinking ship? The team is finally allowing us to peek into its equation for change. After enlisting the help of HBS LEAD professor, Dr. Leslie Perlow, the H’ers knew they had the right formula in their hands. When asked to comment on the specifics of the formula, Dr. Perlow responded, “Unfortunately, to get all the details you will have to wait until we complete the case for next year’s RC class:
‘William Uppington and Section H Soccer: Leading the Revolution of Change.’ However, I will tell you that we rolled out a thorough analysis of the 7 S’s and saw we had a fundamental breakdown in both the external and internal culture. In order to resolve the conflict we created a perpetual cycle that bred successful alignment. The H’ers strengthened the support and the rowdiness of their fans, the Hooligans, which inspired better on-the-field performance by the H’ers, which in turn led to an even bigger Hooligan fan base. The cycle was unstoppable.”
Few believed the H’ers could have pulled off this miracle, however the unbending support of the Hooligans has made the impossible possible. Hooligan leader Eddie “The Eagle” Magnus summed it up best, “I believe that it is very easy to underestimate the impact of this championship run.
Years from now the world will look back at the Hooligans and the H’ers and point to benchmark displays of strategy and leadership. Section H is the 2002 HBS Soccer Champion. That is something no one will ever be able to take away from us.”