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MIT Slides by Essex United

By Josh Elliot
Team Member

Soggy conditions at North Andover High School provided the background for this clash of the titans: the MIT graduate student club versus Essex United. MIT ended up winning the game 32.

This vital hurdle in MIT's championship campaign got off to a nightmarish start. Essex United, conquerors of MIT on their own field by a 21 margin in the spring, caught the MIT defense napping after three minutes. MIT's usually stalwart defense will have to learn to build more redundancy into their system.

An Essex throughball was half-intercepted by an MIT defender. Unfortunately, his touch on the ball deflected it into the penalty area and into the path of the Essex center forward. Bobby Padera's G rapid departure from the goal line was not rapid enough to beat the forward to the ball although he did succeed in driving him wide of the goal. Russ Allgor G did manage to get back to cover the open net, but he could only deflect the forward's driven shot against the post and into the net.

MIT came back valiantly from this setback. After 21 minutes, Malcolm Quinn G, on a foraging mission deep in the Essex half, caught an Essex midfielder in possession. The ensuing run down the right wing and cross resulted in Dias G finding himself with time and space at the edge of the 6-yard box. The Essex goalkeeper was able to make a desperation save, but Jerome Gherchanoc G, in the fashion of his compatriot and A.C. Milan center-forward Papin G pounced on the rebound and buried the ball into the net.

The second half started just as disastrously for MIT as the first. A long aerial ball over the back-pedaling MIT defense was only partially cleared, and an Essex forward was able to capitalize.

However, MIT once again showed strength in the face of adversity. A sweeping movement from one end of the field to the other involving four MIT players saw Gherchanoc control a pass from Allgor and lay the ball back to Josh Elliot G. Elliot's pass into the Essex half released Dias on the left wing. His weaving run brought him to the goal line on the left side of the Essex penalty area. His cross to the back of the penalty area was taken by Elliot past one defender and the shot from about 10 yards was deflected (somewhat fortuitously) off the goalkeeper and an Essex defender before finding the back of the net.

Now MIT's dominance started to show as a series of chances were created in front of the Essex goal. The most memorable was one which concluded with Menard G beating his marker inside the box only to be savagely taken down. The referee's questionable decision was to award a free kick outside the box, when it was clear to see from the torn turf marking Menard's catastrophic return to Earth that the dastardly deed had occurred inside. An indirect free kick inside the box might have been an acceptable decision but a free kick outside was incomprehensible. (Aside from this decision, though, the referee did a great job.)

The winner came from a set piece. The free kick from the left was hit to the penalty spot. Gherchanoc's run to the cross brought three defenders with him and therefore his glancing header found Menard unmarked at the far post. Menard had time to control and place the ball under the advancing keeper.

To underline their superiority, MIT took the ball from Essex directly from the kickoff. The ensuing move was a carbon copy of that leading to the second goal up till the cross from Dias, which this time found Menard (still getting his breath back after scoring MIT's third goal) at the penalty spot. His header went just wide.

Dias' attempts to get on the scoresheet and what would have been the glazing on the cake were denied by the woodwork in the dying moments of the game. His shot from the edge of the box rebounded off the upright with the goalie hopelessly beaten. Such was the power behind the shot that the rebound landed outside the penalty area.

Mention should certainly be made of the defensive warriors in the trenches, Steffen Ernst G, Allgor, Harry Bingham G, and Quinn, who for long periods of the second half smothered the Essex offense to such an extent that the MIT offense were able to create so many chances. This result was very much a team effort.

It also may prove to have profound implications on the final standings of the First Division. As we enter the last six games of the campaign, there appears to be only three teams with a chance to clinch the title: MIT, Lexington, and Canary Square. Certainly a thrilling end to the season is in store.

Hot off the Press: League officials informed us Wednesday night that MIT is now in second place having leapfrogged over last year's champions Canary Square. Lexington leads the league with 19 points, MIT (with a 732 record) has 16, and Canary Square has 15.