The HBS Soccer Club’s White Team advanced to the playoffs of the Fall Boston Graduate School League, and played a tough match away at Babson this past Sunday Nov. 2. The HBS team was facing the #2 seeded opponent in Babson, a feisty team that earned up to their mascot name, the Beavers with their chippy and physical play. The two teams were slated to face-off each other during the regular season in group play, however due to inclement weather that match was cancelled.
The team, already depleted due to freak groin injuries to Derek Brown (OA) and James (Jamie) Parker (OA), would see its ranks further depleted for the semi-final match due to the celebration of Fall Equinox festivities preventing Andrew Rosskamm (NA), Ben Thomas (NB), and John Van Sickle (OC) from suiting up.
According to team captain Erik Snyder (OC), “We faced a challenge similar to the Yale tournament. In that case, we had a less than full strength squad on Saturday since it was the Saturday morning right after Priscilla and the organizers changed our match times at the last minute for an early Saturday start. In this case, due to freak injuries and the Fall Equinox, we had some key players missing. But I knew if we had the remaining core of players show up, we could motivate the players to be on their A game and beat Babson.”
After experiencing some trouble and confusion locating the field, which was ultimately at Olin College instead of Babson in scenic Wellesley MA, the somewhat depleted team showed up ready to play and quickly warm-up. Debutant GK Marc (Glasses are Secure) Farrell (NI) was welcomed to the squad and the HBS White team ranks were bolstered by the return of BJ Grattan (partner), Michael (Destroyer) Lobach (OJ), and Rafa (Mexican Crouch) Garcia-Matar (OJ) to league play.
The first half started fair enough, although the Babson team was quick to start its physical play with tough tackles on Paul Wang (HBS/HKS), Brian (Lil Bunt) Kirschbaum (NB), and Adam (Twinkletoes) Flake (NC). The physical style of play soon resulted in the first of a series of injuries to the HBS White Team, as debutant GK Farrell (NI) and his glasses were knocked out of the match fifteen minutes into the 1st half by a tough challenge from a Babson forward. Regular first team GK Charles Huang (OJ) quickly warmed-up and jumped into the nets as Farrell was resigned to the sideline with the injury. Yet not ten minutes later, another physical challenge from Babson knocked forward Rafa Garcia-Matar (OJ) out of the match. Despite protests to the referee to maintain order, Babson continued to play aggressively. However, the HBS team capitalized with a free kick expertly taken by Lobach (OJ) in the midfield finding Shawn Tydlaska (partner) open in the right corner of the field. Tydlaska played a nice cross across the box and Adam (Twinkletoes) Flake made no mistake to finish, putting HBS up 1-0 just before half-time.
The restart of play in the 2nd half saw no let up from Babson, as yet another member of HBS went down due to a physical challenge, rendering team captain and sweeper Erik Snyder (OC) to the sidelines with a knee injury. Reliable players Austin (Heyyy, I’m open!) Vedder (NA), Garrett Smith (OD) and Will Boland (OA) stepped up their play to secure the defense, along with Grattan (partner) and Lobach (OJ) playing more central roles. The physical play of the match came to a peak midway through the 2nd half after a series of rough challenges on Kirschbaum (NB). After a tough tussle in the corner resulted in a Babson goalkick, the Babson defender further continued to harass Kirschbaum by aggressively grabbing his shoulder after the play. Kirschbaum, schooled by alumni Jon Bunt (HBS 2008) in the art and science of proper grappling technique between undergraduate studies in high finance from their Princeton days, instinctively took down the larger Babson defender in a flash, pinning him to the ground for 2 points. Chaos ensued for a short time thereafter with players from both teams rushing to the scene, and after order was restored Kirschbaum and the offending Babson player were ejected from the match and both teams played the remainder with 10 men each.
HBS dominated the second half, peppering the Babson goal with no fewer than a dozen quality opportunities. The match was made secure with approximately 10 minutes remaining when Andrew (Suave) Ferrer (OD) fired a shot on target that the Babson GK could only deflect to a waiting Flake (OC) who again made no mistake for the brace and 2-0 HBS lead. The defense, led by Lobach and Grattan was true to nearly the end, when a dangerous transition opportunity forced Huang (OJ) into a point-blank reaction save to preserve the clean sheet and eventual 2-0 win.
The HBS White Team advances to the Championship match of the Boston Fall Graduate School League against Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences next week in an all Harvard final. Kirschbaum (NB) summarized the match succinctly: “.before I go out, I tell myself how tough I am. No matter how physical the play, I leave it all on the field, and so did our team and we deserved the victory.”