With the promise of leaving the frigid Boston weather for the warmer climes of Austin and its Sixth Street, the HBS Soccer Team headed to Texas to face some of the best business schools in the country at the annual Austin Cup on February 15-16th. The tournament, hosted by the University of Texas, included 24 teams from schools including Harvard, Chicago, Yale, Duke, North Carolina, Smith (University of Maryland), UCLA and Texas A&M. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and both days of the tournament were marked by high winds and freezing weather, but despite this and being undermanned with only 13 players, the team performed admirably.
In the opening round on Saturday, HBS cruised through its bracket, defeating club team Austin Villa 1-0, UCLA 3-0, and tying Texas A&M 1-1 to finish first. The team was cheered on by its usual loyal fans as well as some new ones found in Austin, who braved the horrible weather to lend their support.
The opening game against Austin Villa was a hard fought defensive battle as both teams pressed the attack. Outstanding play by the defense, led by sweeper Mike Marty (NG) and defenders Pablo Sanders (ND) and Joao Rodrigues (OF), continually stopped Villa in their tracks. Then, midway through the second half, Ben Chatraw (NH) broke through the stout Villa defense, beat the keeper and had a sure goal taken away by a hand ball.
Chatraw calmly stuck the ensuing penalty kick in the lower left hand corner of the net for the decisive goal. Goalkeeper Ro Diehl (NJ) came up with a number of outstanding saves to preserve the victory, including one which stopped the Villa striker who had a clear path to the goal late in the second half.
In the second game, HBS dominated a clearly overmatched UCLA team. The opening goal came late in the first half when Wael Sawan (OI) took a pass from Chatraw and unleashed a rocket which the keeper somehow managed to save. However, Gaby Podskubka (OE) was there to fire home the rebound. The second goal was truly a thing of beauty. After a great move on the left side, G Bakir (OG) played the ball in the air across the field where Sylvain Santamarta (OI) crashed the ball into the upper left hand corner of the net. The full volley blast from 25 yards out stunned the UCLA keeper who could only watch as the HBS team celebrated what was surely the goal of the tournament. The victory was sealed midway through the second half when, after a couple of great passes from G and Gabi, Brian O’Connor (NA) blasted the ball from 25 yards out into the lower right hand corner of the net.
The final game of the first day ended in dramatic fashion. A surprisingly lackluster performance from HBS, having squandered many scoring opportunities, allowed an inferior Texas A&M team to take the lead with just 4 minutes to go. Showing a lot of heart, the team bounced right back and pressed the attack. With less than a minute to play, striker Gabi Podskubka was pulled down in the box and HBS was awarded a penalty.
Once again, Chatraw calmly struck the ball into the net, this time hitting it off the left inside corner of the post to ensure the draw.
In the quarterfinal match against Chicago on Sunday morning, the HBS team looked strong despite having only 12 players available after an unfortunate knee injury to striker Surya Mendonca (NF). HBS attacked well in the first half, creating some great scoring opportunities from the creative and precise passing of the midfield led by Rolo Leyton (OA).
Late in the first half, Chicago was able to sneak one past the defense to take the lead. In the second half, HBS attacked relentlessly and again had a number of chances to draw even, but to no avail. With about 10 minutes remaining, Nate Kring (OE) blasted a shot from 40 yards out, but the keeper was just able to corral the ball and preserve the victory.
HBS exited the tournament with a 2-1-1 record and while the final result was disappointing, the weekend was a blast. In addition to participating in the tournament, the team explored the legendary bars of Sixth Street, frequenting such notorious places as Shakespeare’s, Logan’s and The Blind Pig. HBS will have its chance for revenge at the Tuck tournament in May!
Roster for the tournament:
2nd years: G Bakir (OG), Nathan Kring (OE), Rolo Leyton (OA), Gaby Podskubka (OE), Joao Rodrigues (OF), Sylvain Santamarta (OI), Wael Sawan (OI).
1st years: Ben Chatraw (NH), Rodrigo Diehl (NJ), Michael Marty (NG), Surya Mendonca (NF), Brian O’Connor (NA), Pablo Sanders (ND).