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Newly-formed Grad Soccer Second Team Nearly Wins Match

By Josh Elliott
Team Member

The MIT graduate soccer club is proud to announce the formation of a second team. This team will play in the Massachusetts Amateur Soccer League Second Division, its inaugural season, but is hoping to gain promotion to the first division by spring 1996.

In its first game, which took place on April 23, the second team was rudely awakened to the realities of playing against the high-caliber teams of the MASSL Second Division when they went down to a (albeit closely fought) 20 away defeat to Esquincla. This was a noble defeat, as Esquincla had also just arrived in the division, but in their case it was via relegation from the first division.

MIT's second game, last Sunday, resulted in a much more satisfactory 22 tie away at Club Deportivo Minero.

Great efforts were performed by all members of the MIT team in this case since due to severe injury problems, MIT was forced to play this game with 10 men from the start (rather than the usual 11).

The pattern of play was established early on as CD Minero's advantage in numbers was translated into territorial advantage for most of the first half.

However, MIT seemed to be "rolling with the punches" as in spite of their domination of possession, CD Minero couldn't convert this into goals. The towering defensive figures of Steffen Ernst G, James Moran G, and Husni Idris G were the rocks against which many of the early CD Minero attacking forays crashed.

Lloyd Johnston G, the MIT goalie, was able to assert domination of the penalty area especially for the long aerial balls that CD Minero lofted over the MIT defense. With half time rapidly approaching and MIT savoring the prospect of the strong wind at their backs in the second half, things looked less desperate for MIT.

Unfortunately, with five minutes to go until half time, CD Minero achieved the first breakthrough. A quickly taken free kick in the midfield resulted in a free run on the defense by the CD Minero center midfielder. His long distance shot appeared to have been misshot, but the left winger didn't give up on it and flung himself at the loose ball to knock it by the helpless Johnston.

To MIT's credit, they didn't give at this stage and came out with all guns blazing from the start of the second half.

MIT started to use the height advantage of their attacking players, particularly Schaffner, but in some cases also Ernst when he strayed into the attack.

Finally five minutes into the second half, a corner kick from Jonny Klepsvik G found a cluster of players in the general vicinity of Ernst. The ball dropped out of the pack with Raj Sheel G apparently getting the last touch to it and fell sweetly for Schaffner. His half volley saw the ball fly into the top right corner.

A stunned CD Minero, continued to struggle to come to terms with the onslaught. Five minutes later, another long aerial ball, this time from a free kick by Moran, was allowed to land inside the penalty area. A grateful Sheel swept the ball on the half volley by the static CD Minero goalie.

This dramatic turnaround was hard to believe, even by MIT. Understandably, the remaining 35 minutes turned into a siege around the MIT goal. As fatigue started to show among the MIT players, they began to resort to desperation clearances at every possible opportunity. Time after time, the CD Minero players broke through, but each time they were thwarted by desperation tackles or saves. Heroic defensive efforts by, in particular Johnston, Ernst and Moran, kept Minero from tying the game.

As the game ran out of time, it looked the fledgling MIT team would have its first win. But it was not to be as a dubious refereeing decision allowed play to go on after an apparent handball by a CD Minero forward. Although his shot was saved by Johnston, a second forward was able to knock in the rebound.

Still this game was a great achievement by an injury-plagued MIT team.

The lion's share of the credit for the setting up of the team is due to Sheel. There are still places available on the roster. Interested players are encouraged to show up at practice next Monday at 5 p.m. on the grass field beyond the indoor tennis bubble. However, prospective players should be warned that the standard of this league is quite high so, previous experience in club/college/high school soccer is a necessity.