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Grad Soccer Trashes Lexington

By Malcolm Quinn
Team Member

The MIT Graduate Soccer Club thrashed league leaders Lexington 50 last Saturday in its most anticipated match of the fall season.

This puts MIT just one point behind Lexington in the league table in what is now essentially a two-horse race. Historically Lexington has dominated the league, winning twice in the last three years, while MIT has never won. But on Saturday MIT players thumbed their noses at history and were clearly the better team.

The first goal came in only the fifth minute, catching both teams off guard.

A crowd of players were gathered in Lexington's penalty box when MIT forward Jerome Gherchanoc G attempted an extremely difficult volley, that sent him spinning and the ball rebounding high into the air. Instantly regaining control of the ball, Gherchanoc then sent it skittering across the goalmouth, past the flailing legs of players from both teams, straight to Franz Menard G at the far post, who poked it home.

It was not beautiful and soccer purists cringed on the sidelines, but the home crowd was ecstatic anyway. Aware of the dangers of relaxing against a team like Lexington, MIT's defensive resolve seemed strengthened by this goal. The next 40 minutes passed with tense stifling play from both teams.

Lexington players are feared for their speed and their tactic of dumping high balls in their opponents' goalbox. But on this occasion their vaunted aerial attack never left the hangar. When they did float balls into the penalty area, they were plucked from the air with cat-like aplomb by MIT goalie Bobby Padera G, who was otherwise not tested.

MIT's entire defensive cast was outstanding, never allowing Lexington's usually formidable offense to find a rhythm. The defensive shackles were set in place early and remained locked for a full 90 minutes.

At halftime the score was still 10. Feeding off their strong defensive play, MIT had created more scoring chances than Lexington but had failed to capitalize. The game remained in the balance. It was not until 10 minutes into the second half that play broke open. An upending collision left a player from each team sprawling on the astro-turf, and froze many players flat-footed - but play raced on.

A deft short pass from Rich Stringfellow G found Tony Diaz G all alone at the right sideline. Diaz then chipped to Menard at the far post. The veteran striker made it 20.

For Lexington this was the back-breaker. They were now demoralized and visibly fatigued. By contrast the MIT juggernaut was just beginning to roll.

The best goal of the match came with 20 minutes to play. An incisive pass from the midfield caught Lexington napping, and sent Gherchanoc on a scampering left wing run. Jinking past his bamboozled defensive mark Gherchanoc surged toward the goal, drawing the Lexington keeper from his line. At the last moment he flipped the ball back to an eager Mark Grodzinsky G at the top of the box on the far side. Grodzinsky slammed the ball emphatically home.

"Just like we practiced," Grodzinsky said later.

Two additional goals were scored, one a short range blast from Stringfellow, and one from Harry "the Hammer" Bingham G who launched a jaw-dropping rocket from 25 yards. MIT could have had more but squandered numerous chances. Their dominating performance was marred only by some poor finishing.

Each team has four games left to play, with MIT trailing Lexington by a single league point. Should Lexington falter just once in the next four weeks, and lose or tie a game, the door will be wide open for MIT.