Twenty-four teams traveled to Austin, TX last week intent on winning soccer’s prestigious Austin Winter Classic. One school came home with the both the championship and runner-up trophy: Harvard Business School.
In what is likely a first (at least in recent memory), both the current HBS soccer club team AND the HBS alumni soccer team made their way through the bracket to meet in the Austin Winter Classic Finals.
While looking forward to getting out of the beautiful Boston tundra and enjoying the BBQ and Tex-Mex food in Austin, the HBS soccer team had practiced three times a week for the past two months, getting themselves in shape for what would likely be a grueling weekend of soccer.
The team found itself in arguably the most challenging of the six brackets, beating the U. of Texas Law School (tournament champions two years ago) 3-0, tying Tuck (Yale Cup runners-up one year ago) 1-1, and defeating Anderson (UCLA) 2-0 to earn the #1 seed in its bracket. The team faced familiar rival Columbia in the quarterfinals. Having dispatched them in the Yale Cup last fall, HBS once again sent them packing, 2-1.
The team faced a strong Thunderbird (Arizona) squad in the semifinals.
In this fifth game of the weekend, HBS found itself in a sudden-death overtime situation after regulation ended in a 1-1 tie. Co-Captain Ryan “the Rock” McMonagle (OE) had blocked a variety of shots all game, keeping the T-birds on their heels. Then, five minutes into overtime, Alex Wit (NA) drilled a shot that the goalkeeper deflected up against the crossbar. Cameron Ogden (NE) hustled to the rebound and put in the game-winning “golden” goal, sending HBS into the final.
The stage was set for an all-Harvard final, as the alumni team narrowly beat Sloan in the other semifinal match. Co-Captain Hendrik “the Kaiser” Almstadt (OJ) claimed credit for the team’s perseverance, stating “I have been drilling discipline, discipline, and more discipline into this team all year.” Co-Captain Sahil “the Fur Skunk” Patel (OH) disagreed, stating that the intense warm-up and stretching ritual that he led the team in each game was its competitive advantage.
After five games in two days, HBS staggered to the finals against its own alumni. Alumni squads typically offer tough competition, as they recruit the top 2-3 players from each year of recently graduated classes, creating a virtual all-star team. The game continued in an intense back and forth until the Alumni struck first on a controversial call by the referee that put an indirect kick in the HBS penalty box. Before the end of the half, the alumni had gained a solid upper hand by putting another ball in the back of the net off a header.
HBS battled back in the second half. Although the team consistently attacked the net in the last fifteen minutes of the game, they scored their first goal with only two minutes remaining…too little, too late.
After the final whistle, both squads came together to congratulate each other. HBS returned to Boston exhausted and proud of its great run. Most notably, Co-Captain Santiago Marra (OD) led the team with five goals. Andy Marwaha (NG) and David Priego (NJ) anchored the team at sweeper and stopper, playing every minute of every game. Fellow defenders Staffan Anderson, Hendrick Almstadt, and Co-Captain Patrick McCarter (OJ) shut down many offensive attacks.
HBS Soccer Team Members:
Andy Marwaha, Alex Wit, David Priego, Hendrik Almstadt, Cameron Ogden, Brandon Boothe (NC), Patrick McCarter, Ryan McMonagle, Sahil Patel, Santiago Marra, and Thomas Scriven (OH).