There was a discernible chill to the air as NA and NF shook hands before the kick off of today’s match (and this can only be partially attributed to the weather), whilst simultaneously eyeing each other from head to toe, in search of potential weaknesses. NF meant business and they certainly looked the part, fully clad in crisp blue soccer battle gear, section logos and all. NA on the other hand casually strolled onto the field in their standard wrinkled white baggy T-shirts, covered in company branding, corporate freebie style. But then again, soccer is not about fashion sense (the Italian national team may disagree). It’s about skill, fitness, ball control, goal celebration, the fans…. and ultimately survival.
The showdown commenced with NA chanting a truncated version (“Still ugly”) of their original battle cry, “Call the baby ugly”, and it was full contact thereafter. NF threw themselves into a frenzied attack, stopping only to inspect fallen body parts for signs of loot. The injury toll grew on both sides, whilst neither side was able to make the ultimate attacking breakthrough. NA was forced to substitute their fearless goalkeeper, Dave Tompkins, after he put his body on the line to prevent a certain goal. NF continued to have the better possession and produced a venomous strike on goal which was deflected off the crossbar in the 10th minute.
NA however gradually emerged with all guns blazing, and Jon Gelb produced a candidate for goal of the tournament, when he successfully took on and dribbled 3 players in defense and nonchalantly slotted the ball into the back of the net. All in a days’ work, with the most humble of acknowledgements to the wide-eyed spectators, in the end.
With a half-time lead of 1-0, NA most certainly had the psychological advantage. However it did not take a Masters degree in Soccer Strategy from Harvard to come to the conclusion that defense was the key to preserving the lead against such highly motivated opponents.
This strategy ultimately paid off in the second half, with NA’s Jay Tolley, Brian Auld and Kat Pick demonstrating formidable vision in the defensive line.
NA’s victory was sealed in the 32nd minute when Evan Gavas rose above NF’s goalkeeper and central defender to head a massive throw-in from the tenacious newcomer to the squad, Dave Pouncy Pounce, guiding the ball into the back of the net with a glancing touch. Although bruised and battered by worthy opposition, NA finally emerged as the last team standing with a respectable 2-0 victory.
Man of the match: Jay Tolley
Please note: the contents of the above article may be slightly exaggerated – this is designed for effect only & should not be taken absolutely literally.