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Grad Soccer Club Starts Season with Win over Charles River

By Josh Elliott
Team Member

MIT graduate soccer's 4 to 1 victory over Charles River was an excellent start to the season, besting their 3-3 tie with Charles River last year. Despite several injuries sustained during the match, the win boded well for the season as MIT tries to improve on its 2nd place finish last season.

Saturday's match did not start well for MIT. The defense's legendary vulnerability to corner kicks was painfully exploited 10 minutes in, as a Charles River midfielder was allowed a free header. Luckily, he botched the "noddy holder" and the shot went wide.

The bad luck continued in the 16th minute, when a strong run and shot by Charles River left-winger brought an excellent near-post save by MIT goalie Bobby Padera G.

MIT was very lucky in the 22d minute, when the referee awarded Charles River an indirect free kick inside the box for a foul on their center forward.

The foul probably would have been ruled a penalty had the referee not set up the chance for Charles River by pointing the wrong way for a quickly-taken free kick, a move that had fooled most of the MIT team and caught the defense out of position. The resulting shot was charged down by the MIT wall.

Suddenly against the run of play, MIT scored the opening goal. A midfield scramble resulted in Josh Elliott G coming away with the ball, with Alex Pfaff G supporting to his right. To Elliott's disbelief, he was allowed to dribble the ball all the way to the top of the Charles River penalty area uncontested.

At this point, the Charles River sweeper had no choice but to challenge the ball, since none of his defenders had done so. The move left Pfaff free on the right: With the ball dispatched to him, Pfaff had a clear run on goal.

He expertly drew the goalkeeper and then slipped the ball inside to Rodrigo Capaz G. Despite his being closely marked and in defiance of the goalie's attempts to recover position, Capaz deftly slotted the ball into the net off the near post.

MIT seemed to have more of the play in the opening skirmishes of the second half. This was compounded by the Charles River sweeper's persistence in dribbling around inside his own half. Though he was caught in possession a few times, MIT was unable to capitalize.

A flurry of MIT attacks soon had the Charles River defense reeling and when a free kick was awarded on the left, the danger bells began to ring loudest. Alex Pfaff G spotted a free MIT man at the far post and hurriedly delivered a swerving ball across the Charles River box.

The perfectly placed cross found Elliott at the far post. Unchallenged by the Charles River goalie, he headed over the Charles River number1 and into the net's far corner.

But instead of taking the steam out of the Charles River challenge, the goal seemed only to get their goat up. A string of chances fell their way as the MIT defense seemed to temporarily lose its shape. The said vulnerability to corners was exposed again in the 65th minute, this time with disastrous consequences.

This corner, to the middle of the goal mouth, was glanced on beyond the far post. Now the Charles River sweeper made amends for his numerous losses of possession by striking the ball first time, full on the volley from a very acute angle. The powerful shot beat Padera (and his post-man) at the near post.

Surviving the onslaught, MIT regained its composure and were able to consolidate their lead when in the 70th minute Mark Grodzinsky G found Tony Dias G with lots of time and space inside the box. Dias calmly waited for the ball to roll onto his favored left foot and swerved a shot around the advancing keeper.

Finally, with time running out, Rich Stringfellow G sealed the win with an excellent left-footed shot, again exploiting the weak Charles River flank.