Club Soccer Team Repeats as League Champions
Sports

Club Soccer Team Repeats as League Champions

Ross Berger, Contributor

HBS tops HLS en route to its second consecutive Boston Graduate School League title.

Under the lights of Jordan Field, as the snow fell from the sky, the tension in the air was palpable. Months of hard work culminated in one last game, the final 90 minutes of the season. Both teams warmed up, pacing back and forth across the field in unison. For one moment, the players forgot they were graduate students in the midst of final exams—in that moment, they were brought back to their youth, just kids playing a game they loved.

In the last pre-game huddle of the year, co-captain Zack Reneau-Wedeen, known for his genius both on and off the field, delivered the type of quirky, yet inspiring speech the team has grown accustomed to. (Rumor has it, at the first leadership meeting of the year, Wedeen presented everyone with a small jar containing a blade of grass. Six months prior, following a crushing defeat at the MBA Winter Classic in Austin, TX, Wedeen had plucked these blades from the field to serve as a constant reminder of the defeat.)

Wedeen turned to the team and asked somewhat matter-of-factly, “Do you remember what happened on September 6?” There were confused looks around the huddle. “Do you remember what happened on October 6?” Feeling awkward, the team stood silently. “What about November 6?” No response, and a long pause. “I promise you this…we will remember what occurred on December 6.” He continued, as puzzled looks turned into smiles.

With that, HBS took the field and the game began. The team dominated possession early, funneling the ball through center midfielders Quentin Grigsby and Keith Tura, and in the 16th minute, they struck first. Tura, arguably the most prolific scorer in HBS history, hit a beautiful shot from 30 yards out, bouncing off the keeper’s hands for a rebound. Former Stanford standout, Evan Morgan was there to put it away. HBS 1, HLS 0.

Minutes later, forward Aleks Rosnev, donning the number 7, had a Cristiano Ronaldo moment of his own. He took a touch around a defender and fired a shot into the left side netting, putting HBS up 2-0 or as co-captain Joe Festa would say, “the most dangerous lead in soccer.”

After halftime, rather than let up, HBS picked up the intensity. RC Brandan Rivard, who is rumored to have completed the Harvard Stadium stairs in five minutes flat, was all over the field making plays. Former MIT star Allison Park, toyed with opponents as usual, dribbling around them as if they were stationary cones. Michael Deliakis and Kaiz Alarakyia, the team’s two stars from the North, continued to prove that Canada produces athletes both on and off the ice. Spencer Dahl was a physical force in the center of the field, completely locking down the opposition’s most talented player. Paul Ampofo, who was spotted by team scouts during RC section intramurals last year, continued to be nothing short of a revelation. Center back Tristan Sansbury—who, like a fine wine, only seems to get better with age—dominated on the defensive end of the field.

As the game wore on, HBS was awarded a penalty kick, and forward Mario Malave stepped up to take it. Always as cool as a cucumber, Malave calmly put the ball in the back of the net, icing the game for HBS.

No recap would be complete without addressing the superb play of goalkeeper Dan Thau or, as many on the team have started to call him, “Superman.” By day, he walks around the storied corridors of Aldrich Hall, unassuming, yet confident in his gait—like Clark Kent, if you will. When he sets foot in the net, his cape comes on. He has the reflexes of a cat, the strength of a bull, and the heart of a lion. Any list of impenetrable, immovable objects—think the Great Wall of China, Fort Knox, Alcatraz—now includes him. With Thau in net, shutouts have become the rule rather than the exception. Not surprisingly, this game was no different. He saved shot after shot as HLS stood in awe—for HBS, it looked like business as usual.

As the referee blew the final whistle, the team stormed the field, sliding in the snow, embracing one another, reveling in the joy of victory. HBS 3, HLS 0—the team’s second league title in as many years.

Notes:

  • Center back Ed Arthy picked up his eighth yellow card of the season, setting a new league record.
  • Yago Gahan, whose craftiness is reminiscent of a young Diego Maradona, fought off a nagging hamstring injury, giving HBS solid minutes up top.
  • Benny Grobbel, Hunter Fortney, Rahim Noormohamed, Stefan Eckhardt, and Thomaz Galvao all gave key contributions as well.
  • HBS will next head to Austin, TX in mid-February for the 23rd Annual McCombs MBA Winter Classic soccer tournament.

Ross Berger (MBA ’20) is originally from New York and graduated from Cornell University in 2014. He is a proud member of Section C.

January 16, 2020
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