Slidetackle me, I must be dreaming.
In an insane debut to its IM White League season, NUTC FC (the Northwestern University Track Club Football Club, yes we know it’s redundant)/Runners With No Chill (the alt name) emerged triumphant from the crap field hockey turf field after two late goals from David Donnelly ensured a 2-0 win over Atletico Garnett United FC.
But it took a while to get there…
After the author of this piece failed to sign the Track Club up for an IM basketball team over the winter, the Track Club resolved to create a soccer team for the spring.
But first, a team had to be assembled. Liz signed on and gave the team a vital boost at goalkeeper. Other track members followed. “Cool” Mike, Nicky Hug and the Earl of Transport were in, and they contacted their friends to bolster the roster. David “the Sledgehammer” Donnelly, Bailey “Brick Wall” Pleva, Patrick “the Mad Bomber” Bohmer, and Ryan “Lunch Pail Guy” Masson. Prior to the first game, NUTC FC had 17 players on its roster (one of which was Charlie Hoffert, so really 16), but had little time to practice or train. General manager Tristan Jung said he took inspiration for the lack of real training from his hero, Arsene Wenger.
NUTC FC was dealt a harsh blow when Samuel Kentucky Johnson and Christian Surtz were both ruled out of the game due to prior engagements. This left the starting XI and just Karli Goldenberg on the bench for the full 40 minutes. On the other side, Atletico Garnett hauled out a full complement of substitutes and had at least 16 players to rotate through the game.
Positions were determined by Cool Mike Ryzhov, the team’s player-manager, who settled on an attack-minded 4-3-3.
The first half: “I dislocated my f***ing arm.”
NUTC got off to poor start as a handball from Ryan Masson led to a free kick just outside the area for Garnett. The shot was a true beauty, a dipping effort that looked sure to go in. However, the ball careened off the crossbar and was cleared to safety. Crisis averted.
The first half was not pretty, as both teams used up energy trying to maintain possession. The early going was all Garnett, as NUTC FC could barely hold onto the ball and retain possession once Hug and Ryzhov no longer had the ball at their feet. The front line of Bohmer, Player-GM Tristan Jung and Donnelly hardly got a shot off in the early going. But the back four of Kauzlaric, Pleva, Forrest and Masson held firm, with help from Schauer in goal. They neutralized all Garnett’s attempts at going forward and cancelled out Garnett’s possession with solid defending.
Also, Cool Mike megged a guy and lost his gloves in the process. Legendary.
The game was headed towards a dull, inconclusive scoreless break when a player from Garnett tried to chase down a loose ball and tripped on his own.
“I dislocated my fucking arm!” he shouted.
Yes, the player actually broke his arm and play was suspended.
“What should we do?” cried someone on the pitch.
“Call an ambulance you idiots!” Nicky Hug, future med student, said.
The first half ended in chaos as the unfortunate player lay on the ground in serious pain. However, he refused to call for an ambulance due to expenses and actually Ubered his way to the hospital. That took a while to arrange, and the player did not walk off under his own power for a good 7 minutes. American health care! Someone managed to grab a first aid kit from SPAC, as if that would help. In any case, the half ended 0-0.
The second half: Five Minutes of Madness
In the second half, NUTC FC surprisingly opened on the front foot. Perhaps it was the fact that Garnett had just lost a teammate due to a catastrophic injury, or perhaps it was the improved conditioning of the NUTC players. In any case, NUTC FC played freely and openly, showing more ability to attack than it had in the first half. However, no one was able to deliver the final ball. Garnett quickly got back into the game, but NUTC’s defense was once again too strong. The score remained tied with five minutes remaining.
Then, chaos ensued. First, Garnett had a brilliant long range effort just miss. Then, in a confusing series of events, player-GM Tristan Jung made one of his two (2) positive contributions to the game by poking a loose ball forward for Cool Mike and “Sledgehammer” Donnelly. The ball skipped forward beyond the defense and the goalkeeper rushed out to cover the open space. However, confronted with Donnelly (hence the nickname “Sledgehammer”) and Ryzhov charging him, he panicked and failed to clear the ball, tripping Ryzhov in the process.
“Yeah I think he got scared,” David said afterwards.
Suddenly, the goal was wide open and Donnelly was all alone with the ball. After an agonizing second, he managed to pivot and lightly tap the ball into the empty goal. The Track Club was up 1-0 with less than three minutes remaining.
But Garnett refused to give in. NUTC entered park the bus mode, sending 9 players behind the ball and relying on its defense once again. Garnett, who had probably played better through the first 37 minutes, went into desperation mode. A high moonball shot went up in the dying seconds, but Liz Schauer was there to rise and parry the ball to temporary safety. But that safety lasted about two seconds as Garnett fired another effort at the net, which glanced off the crossbar again. Suddenly, the whole field was open, and Ryzhov flicked the ball forward for Jung to run out the clock.
Unfortunately, Jung went against logic and tried to rush up the field to score a second goal despite struggling with calf cramps. He got caught by a player shouting “not in my house, not today” or something to that effect. However, Jung won a corner.
Then, Nicky Hug, who had taken several corners and failed to get a clean delivery, finally hit the perfect corner kick he was capable of. Donnelly was there again with a header to make it 2-0 for NUTC FC, who had scored twice in less than five minutes despite having one shot on goal in the first 35.
And thus, the Track Club team emerged victorious.
Notes and Jokes:
- The player with the broken arm did receive medical treatment, according to reports.
- Player of the Game: Donnelly, 2 goals
- Unsung Hero: Liz is the best goalkeeper on campus and pitched a shutout today.
- Almost Fight: Bohmer got into it with an opposing player after the opponent delayed in giving him the ball for an a NUTC throw-in. Bohmer tried to snatch the ball from the opponent’s hands.
- Cool Mike got hit in the face, which knocked his glasses off. Also, him and Nicky Hug are clearly the only technically skilled players on the team, which was fun to watch but also very tiring for them.
- Don’t let NUTC’s 2-0 win distract you from the fact that the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
- Yeah…pretty sure the other team thought they’d beat us 3-0 before the game started.
- Our defending was actually good, if a bit disorganized.
Next game is next Wednesday at 9 p.m. CST against Pike Gold. The game will probably not be televised.