The pre-match preparations begun in typical style with players crammed four across in the back of one car, and another ride somehow ending up at La Guardia instead of Randall’s Island. Going into the match the Grays knew it would be a battle, with several key players missing due to injury and travel. Unbeknownst to him, Marko was slated to make a glorious return to center back. The team swears he was told of this last week at the pub, but a string of ‘just one more’ erased this from his memory.
On to the game – the Grays fielded Harvard in goal, Joachim and Yuval on the defensive flanks, with Marko and Alex in the center back. Danny and UK started in the middle with Charlie and Jack on the wings. Tex and Ugo took the reins up front, with latecomers Cheese and Kareem starting on the sidelines, recalibrating their GPS. The game started with Hoboken strong in possession, but CPR finding chances on the break. The introduction of Cheese to the front opened space up, with Cheese and Ugo combining well. Ugo finally found space inside the box with a defender misjudging a bouncer. In slow motion Ugo looked to the right, then the left, then the right again, then deftly hit a low shot to the left which the keeper could only helplessly palm into the goal. 1-0 CPR.
After the goal Hoboken pressed forward in search of an equalizer. Strong service from a corner saw a powered header aimed at the bottom right corner. Harvard sprung to make the save, throwing his body across the goal and palming the ball off of the line. The ref claimed to be “completely on top of the play” from a solid 25 yards out, and judged the ball to have crossed the line. Good sports as they are Hoboken consoled our defense, admitting that the ball was only on the line. The half ended 1-1 with the only other notable event being Marko taking an elbow to the face, snapping his rec-specs in half. Luckily CPR MacGuyvers successfully poindextered them back together during the break with tape, bubble gum, spare shoe laces, a paperclip, and a ball pump.
The second half started as an even affair, with CPR compact in the back and finding room on the counterattack. Both teams were fairly even when CPR was brought down to 10 by a classic Angry Jack tackle. It may have been the weakest, slide from the side/behind, studs somewhat up but yet still barely grazing the player type of tackle to ever earn a red card, but Angry Jack did it.
Down a man, CPR doubled down on defensive organization. It began to look like even spoils was all there was to fight for, but Kareem and UK had something else in mind. Kareem crafted a delicately lobbed through ball which found the perfect bounce off the turf. UK was through on goal, with CPR outnumbering 3-1 on the break. Cheese and Tex flailed their arms across the goal, in acres of space, but UK had too good of a ball to pass up, and took a trademark clutch UK blast to the lower left corner, leaving the goalie sprawled out on the pitch in disbelief. 2-1 Grays.
Now with a precious lead to defend, the Grays fought hard until the end. Danny barked orders and actually held a defensive position. Charlie flew in with the tackles. The whole team rallied to secure all three points in front of their new top of the table rivals, the Old Boys, whose presence only served to inspire. All in all it was a classic Grays performance, built upon well coordinated defending, smash and grab scoring, and a solid team effort.
Man of the Match – Tie. UK for the beautiful clutch goal, and the back four for their many heroics. One new face Jaochim who impressed, one out of position Marko who couldn’t even head the ball in the second half due to his glasses, Alex for shutting down their point man, and Yuval for having perfected kicking the ball over his own goal from 5 feet for a clearance.