The HBS Soccer Club traveled to Yale for the 16th annual MBA Soccer Cup, which took place October 29 and 30. The team went into the tournament as the defending champion but left with a third-place finish.
Tuck defeated the HBS squad (1-0) in the semifinal game on a controversial goal. After tripping one defender, essentially pulling off the jersey of another, and choking a third, a Tuck forward found a way to put the ball in the back of the net. The HBS team appealed to the referee who apparently had no soul, nor proper corrective lenses. The goal stood.
HBS fought to score the equalizing goal. The best chance came on a shot by Rob Niemeyer (NC) from an almost-ridiculous 35 yards out that banged off the crossbar. The HBS midfield, Brandon Boothe (OC), Xabi Vazquez-Gil (NC), Tom Hildrum (NI) and Dan Guill (NC) wore down the Tuck midfield, but with legs weary from playing five games over two days, HBS just couldn’t manage to tie the game.
Earlier in the tournament, HBS easily defeated Duke, 3-0. Gina Rafanelli (ND) got the first goal for HBS. Brian Drab’s (OB) cross made it over the goalie’s head and found Rafanelli, who touched the ball into the back of the net with the composure of a pro.
Minutes later, Brad Murray (NE) sent the ball brilliantly between two defenders to Drab who put the ball in the upper-left corner with the outside of his left foot from 20 yards out. Drab later referred to the goal as “one of the best in my 23-year career.”
The scoring was capped off when Hildrum made a perfect pass to Murray, who effortlessly dribbled around the goalie before slotting the ball home for the team’s third goal.
Somehow, HBS lost to Columbia (0-1) in the second game. The highlight of this low-scoring game was the HBS defense, led by goalie Carlos Schvartzman (ND), sweeper Andy Marwaha (OG) and stopper David Priego (OJ). Schvartzman made saves in this game that left his teammates stunned – and thankful. With superhuman reflexes, Schvartzman saved several shots from less than 10 feet away.
Marwaha (ignoring advanced stages of pneumonia), Priego and the rest of the defense worked non-stop, making countless shin-cracking tackles that could be heard from the parking lot. Also contributing to the HBS defense were Rob Gannett (OD), Mark Brown (OA), Brian Milder (ND), Francesco Russo (OA) and Chad Carlson (NH).
In the third game, HBS faced the unusually amiable Rochester Yellowjackets. HBS controlled this low-key game from the start. Sheldon Lyn (NH) and the rest of the offense created scoring chances repeatedly throughout the first half. It was only a matter of time before Hildrum blasted home the game winner into the upper-right corner from 15 yards out after receiving another precision pass from Murray.
With the round-robin phase of the tournament complete, HBS headed into the quarter-final match with the elderly Yale alumni. Murray scored in the opening minutes of the game on a clever pass by Niemeyer. Later in the first half, Drab sent a free kick into the box where Jon Fernandez de Barrena (NF) was waiting to skillfully head the ball home. The win sent HBS into the semifinal game with Tuck.
Pre-game conversation among teammates illustrated just how intense HBS’s desire to beat Tuck was. As the team took the field, Fernandez de Barrena yelled to 5’2″ goalie Schvartzman, “Enano mejicano paralo todo.” (English translation: “Mexican dwarf, I want you to save everything.”) Schvartzman replied in his typical, no-nonsense way, “Not even the wind is going to get in here.” A questionable goal unfortunately proved Schvartzman wrong, leaving HBS hungry to play Tuck in the future.
Needless to say, HBS was frustrated with the tournament result and is looking forward to the Texas Winter Classic at the University of Texas at Austin in February (last year’s finish: 2nd) and the MBA World Cup at Tuck in May (last year’s finish: 3rd).