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Yet Another Successful Alumni Game

[EDIT] A couple of changes noted by Rishi Abuwala. The name of freshman who I couldn’t remember but played well for us along side Dan was Tony. Also, the score at half time was apparently 2-2 and not 3-2 as I stated. The Alumni scored 3 more unanswered goals in the second half.

Here is a game recap for those who could not attend and even for those who were and want a recap of the game. Let me know if I messed up somewhere with a detail or a name and I’ll adjust it.

After what seemed like hundreds of date and time changes, the 7th Academy Alumni soccer game took place yesterday in the scorching 100 degree weather. As the current Academy students and the alumni started to trickle onto the track field at Thomas Edison Park, you could tell this was going to be a long day as everyone started sweating long before most of us even took the field.

I usually always field some shots before warm-ups from players on both sides which helps me get a sense of the new kids and whose shot I should look out for come game time. A couple of incoming freshmen did well to leave a good mark right away which tells you the future of the Academy has the potential to stay bright.

As game time neared, the Alumni including the seniors (or lone senior – Carlo) from the class of 2009 only had 9 players on our side compared to roughly 15-16 for the current Academy team. We ended up drawing two incoming freshmen who I would have preferred along side their teammates for the upcoming year but definitely gave our team a boost. I don’t accurately remember the second freshman’s name but Dan who played defense right in front of me was very calm and collected in the face of a constant attack from the Academy side which cam early and often. Even in a couple of one-on-one situations, he did well holding his own against the likes of Sami and Alyssa.

There was a decent back and forth start to the game for the first 5-10 minutes as the alumni were getting a little accustomed to playing with the new guys. That playing style eventually led to a very weak loft by Academy towards our goal at a time I wasn’t paying much attention and talking to a current senior about their team. I turned out in what seemed like enough time to see the bouncing loft which was rolling towards the right post and started moving towards ball to collect it. That didn’t turn out to be the case as I thought the ball was going to roll out of bounds on the goal line but happened to trickle just inside the far post. 1-0 Academy.

After hearing about that goal from pretty much everyone on our side, we started moving the ball up back into our offensive third before capitalizing on a loose ball outside the box which tied up the game at 1. Our defense really started to pick up our game following a little bit of a sluggish start. It seemed to be going well until a corner which the Academy did well to put into play rather quickly and not allowing to get settled on the posts for marking. I had turned around to make sure that there was someone on the far post behind me in case the ball went over but by the time I had turned around, the ball was already in the air from the corner and proceeded to get a slight deflection by the defender right in front of me and off my gloves into the goal. 2-1 Academy.

Both sides really buckled down from then on for a good 10 minutes or so including a takeout by me on Max I think which really got me going. I always rely on a couple of those in a game to get into one of those modes where any ball that is coming into the box will be mine. It might have been the heat really starting to take over but we took an unorthodox water break with about 15 minutes left in the first half when it became too apparent that the lack of subs on our side was causing dehydration and a lack of effort.

Following the mini break, we decided to implement some changes. We switched up our stopper (Carlo) and right back (Dan). The switch with the right back and stopper helped us as the lack of experience back there allowed Academy to stay on side on a couple of plays where they would have been definitely offside had our regular squad been present. It stopped the bleeding on the backline and Dan’s nonchalant defensive style limited their possession for the remainder of the first half. I think we might have scored once before the half was over and went into the break tied at 2.

To start the second half, we tried one more change albeit it was only temporary. Our left back (Frank) swapped places with our right midfielder (Vivek) to allow him to make a couple of runs up the right side to spark our offense to start the half. Although the runs didn’t payoff in goals right away it definitely helped us move the ball on both sides a little bit more fluently and the counter pressure we applied seemed to frustrate Academy a little. We had a good stretch of constant ball control and possession and eventually pushed the lead to 5-2 Alumni that was at the hand of 4-unaswered goals by the staunch offensive attack by Ab, Rishi and Varesh. Varesh along with Frank had excellent opportunities to extend the lead even further but each of their headers (both off corners I believe) went just wide and the score remained as is.

The Academy did well to stop the scoring on our part from there on out. They started capitalizing on turnovers and pushing the ball up on both sides of the field. I think the first goal was by Sami where is a simple one on one against me where I held my line instead of coming out and a simple shot to my left and Academy cut the lead down to 5-3. Max, who had been called for several offsides earlier on, continued the patient attack. He held control of the ball just on the 18 yard line with little pressure on him. I thought I had a good enough read on the shot that if I didn’t save it, I could definitely parry it over the cross bar. The shot however, was very well placed in the upper 90 just outside of the reach of my left hand going across my body and the score was now 5-4 Alumni with just 7 minutes to play in the game.

Those last seven minutes seemed to last forever. We tried playing a little keep away to run off as much time as we could but after an errand pass, they had a good clean look coming up my right side followed by my left which they just couldn’t finish off. There were a couple of breakaways where I just broke from my line and told myself that the pressure is on the attacker to tie the game and I’m not going to make it easy for him. Two rather aggressive (or reckless) dives on the ball by me in goal kept the score at the one goal differential before time would run out with Alumni holding onto a 5-4 victory.

I think it has been back to back alumni games now that we have escaped with a one goal victory after what seemed like easy games in the first year or two. I think the key really is experience down in the end where passing is far more important trying to weave through the entire defense on your own to try and equalize the score. That kind of patience is often developed and the sooner is happens, the better it is for the team. Alumni improves its overall record to 6-1 in these games with the next one scheduled for Thanksgiving break as usual.

P.S. Thanks for the father who brought drinks for everyone on the field just as the game expired. I know I that was very much appreciated on a hot and humid day like yesterday with the temperature in the mid-90’s and the head index hitting triple digits.

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  1. Rishi says

    Hey Faraz, just I couple of things I noted: the second freshman's name was Tony, and I thought the halftime score was 2-2.

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