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Graduate Soccer Club Crushes Harvard Alumni on Saturday

By Josh Elliott
Team Member

The MIT graduate student soccer club beat the Harvard Alumni 20 last Saturday.

An often-quoted sporting expression is that a sure sign of a championship team is one that plays badly and still wins. This also applies in the sport of association football, or soccer.

Though the team had a below-par performance in Saturday's game, when the final whistle blew the scoreline suggested an easy win. However, MIT achieved this result with great difficulty.

Although MIT had most of the chances to score in the first half, they had great difficulty in applying the finishing touch. After 20 minutes, a run by Grant Schaffner G into the penalty area concluded with a pass to a group of MIT players inside the box lining up for the shot. Josh Elliott G ended up taking it, but the shot went wide.

Shortly after this, a snapshot by Franz Menard from close to the penalty spot hit the left post and rebounded tantalizingly along the goal line.

In the second half, MIT's superior fitness started to tell as a series of chances were created. The first came from a cross from the right fullback, Mark Grodzinsky G, which Steffen Ernst G, on a mission from the defensive ranks, headed just wide. His compatriot and Barcelona winger Michael Laudrup G would have been proud of this attempt.

The second chance resulted in MIT's first goal. A cross from the left fullback to the far post was mistakenly believed to be going out of bounds by the Harvard defense. Bashar Zeitoon G alertly latched onto the end of it and nodded the ball back towards Franz Menard. His coolly-taken shot beat the goalkeeper at the near post.

At this point Harvard started to come back into it, and without a superhuman effort on the part of MIT goalkeeper, Bobby Padera G, the scores would have been leveled.

This save was reminiscent of Gordon Banks' Save of the Century for England from Brazil's Pele in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

An edge-of-the-penalty-box scramble saw the ball pop out to the Harvard center forward alone with time and space to the right of the penalty spot. He struck the ball first time on the volley hard and low into the far corner. Somehow Padera was able to get a hand to it and push it past the post.

MIT had several chances to increase their lead after this. An Ernst dummy from a corner fooled everybody including his own teammate, Tony Diaz G, standing at the edge of the 6-yard box. The ricochet from Diaz's knee bounced dangerously toward the Harvard goal but was saved. An Elliott cross to Menard was headed just wide from 6 yards. A Schaffner volley from a Diaz cross went just over the bar from about 10 yards.

MIT finally put the game away when in the 85th minute with Harvard pressing forward for an equalizer. A long ball from the MIT defense beat the Harvard offside trap and Menard was able to beat the Harvard goalie to the ball, scoring easily with nobody within 10 yards of him.

This was another critical win and extends MIT's unbeaten streak to 4 games, stretching back to the start of the fall season. It sets the stage perfectly for MIT's most important game of the season this Saturday at 9:30 a.m. against league leaders Lexington on the MIT astro-turf field.

MIT is still the underdog team for this season's championship. It is currently in second place, 3 points behind Lexington.

A win would put MIT one point out of first place with a superior goal difference. Any Lexington slip-up thereafter would probably give MIT the league. Supporters are encouraged to attend the game.