The “beautiful game,” as they call it in Brazil, may not be the best description of today’s final clash of the regular season between NA and NG. NA went into the game in need of a win, to progress to the playoffs, and NG was in it to salvage their pride, and mark the end of the season with a spectacular upset. Needless to say, the result was pandemonium and a somewhat scrappy game of soccer. Fortunately the fans did not turn out in the thousands for this one. In fairness, there were a number of spectacular incidents, which can be highlighted to populate this otherwise brief article.
NA commenced shakily with a lackluster first 10 minutes. As the game progressed however, they suddenly sprang to life after their recent revelation, Jon Gelb, once again emerged as the opposing defense’s ultimate nightmare. Spinning and weaving, he took on two defenders with an air of vengeance, and then icily stabbed the ball past the goalkeeper, leaving him helpless and stunned. Moments later NG were on the counter-attack, and NA once again had to regroup to diffuse a potentially risky situation. On a couple of occasions, NA’s goalkeeper, Dave Tompkins, was forced to take flight, and dive acrobatically from post to post, in order to deflect dangerous shots on goal from NG’s offensive line.
In retaliation, NA launched a number of assaults of their own. NA’s Bedii Yucaoglu failed to convert, when he produced a couple of rare misses in attack, alone with the goalkeeper, after well-timed through passes from Jon Gelb and Felipe Dawes in midfield. At half time the score was 1-0 to NA, and if there was a graph (Exhibit X) attached to this article, the line would have been all over the place, no matter what variables were on the axes. A serious strategy session at half-time enabled NA to go back into the game and to take control of the situation. In the 27th minute Evan Gavas completed a solo effort from midfield, with a precision ground-to-air strike that ended up in the right hand corner of the goal.
This however did not deter NG’s Jed Lewis from putting a spectacular diving header past NA’s goalkeeper, and recording a consolation goal for his team. During the remaining 8 minutes of the game NA’s defense (Christine Kenna, Jay Tolley, Jim Whitehead) remained solid however, and stubbornly warded off any attempts by NG to secure an equalizer. NA finally emerged victorious, on a day when graceful play was substituted by sheer determination.
Man of the match: Dave Tompkins