Warm, balmy Southern Californian weather was a nice break for Wharton FC, who descended upon UCLA to participate in the 2nd tournament of the year. Nestled in Group 3, with UCLA-Anderson Alumni, Texas-McComb, Chicago-Booth and the defending champs, Duke-Fuqua, Wharton FC had its hands full (a total of 15 teams played in the tourney). With only a 13 player squad, including “Wharton 3rd Years” such as Peter “the Slovakian Pit Bull” Gajdos (WG’ 13) and Dan “Fit as a Fiddle” Anderson (WG’13), Wharton FC only had 2 substitutions available during the entire tournament – truly a heroic effort. While teammates boasted their accomplishments at the Philadelphia Marathon back home, Wharton FC exported its own Philly marathon to the Hollywood campus. Fitness would be a key component to victory!
Game 1: UCLA-Anderson Alumni
The first game began with a shaky start, with the first 15 minutes of very sloppy play resulting in two lightning goals by the opponents, one of which was blatantly offside. Down 2 x 0 within 15 minutes of initial play was not exactly what the doctor had ordered. However, those would be the only 15-minutes of poor play that Wharton FC would exhibit during the entire tournament. Reaching the end of the first half, and Wharton whites finally looking like a team again,Henry “El Lefty” Elefter (WG’15), managed a subtle header into the lower right corner, off a beautiful pitch cross byPeter “the Slovakian Pit Bull” Gadjos (WG’13). Wharton was on the board! Yet the second half proved to be a grueling deadlock and a beautiful display of talent by our very own Tony “Hurtlocker” Innamorato (WG’14). A special thanks goes to Tony for graciously playing more than a fair share under the posts – demonstrating he has the nimbleness of a cat and the reflexes of a gazelle. Unfortunately, Game 1 ended in a 2 x 1 victory for UCLA.
Game 2: Chicago-Booth
After suffering a heart breaking loss, Wharton FC knew it had to react against Booth to stand any chance of making it into the playoff round on Sunday. Sure enough, after Troy “The Wall” Ford (WG’15) stole a sloppy pass in mid-field, he managed a quick flick to Drew “Our All American President” Peterson (WG’14), who in turn flicked it toFelipe “Futy Volley” Mattos (WG’14), who managed an incredible goal from outside the box, demonstrating his skills learned on the beaches of his native Rio. Wharton up 1 x 0! Tony, once again, played keeper for a portion of the game and Peter played keeper during the second half after his old legs began to give out. Led by Troy “The Wall” Ford (WG’15) and Diego “Movember” Duran (Law ’14), the defense played a very skilled match too, keeping Booth safely clear of the box and Wharton on top! This turned out to be Wharton FC’s first victory of the season, 1 x 0. With 3 points on the board, Wharton FC would need a victory against Texas to make it through to Sunday.
Game 3: Texas-McComb
Despite tired legs, Wharton FC was high off its win, demonstrated incredible heart and came out with very organized play. Such strong play resulted in what some categorized as the most beautiful play of the tournament. Henry “El Lefty” Elefter (WG’14) managed to charge up the left side, leaving two Texas players in his dust. He saw Gui “Pato” Nosralla (WG’15) out of the corner of his eye and crossed a beauty into the box. Gui ruthlessly headered the ball firmly into the back of the net, and the crowd went wild. Wharton up 1 x 0! At the end of the half, everyone was feeling good, except for a few complaints about cramps (after all, it had been 150 minutes of play with only 2 subs and a few bananas). Wharton had the partial victory it needed to make it into the next round! At the beginning of the second half, Wharton FC came out strong again and pretty much dominated the first 15 minutes. However, in one defensive lapse that ultimately sealed Wharton FC’s fate, Texas managed a sloppy goal off the back of the defenders. The game was now 1 x 1, and Wharton FC desperately needed a goal to survive in the tourney. But, it wasn’t meant to be. Between our very own Michael “Red Card” O’hanlan’s (WG’14) courageous tackles andJustin “Don’t F with Me” Goldberg’s challenges, Wharton FC just could not get a second goal. Final score 1 x 1.
The bottom line:
Wharton FC managed to secure its first win of the season and only suffered one loss, which is very encouraging. The team showed tremendous heart, but just could not get the last point needed to push through to the next round – we ended 9th, one position out of the knockout rounds. Wharton FC is excited for Austin though, where hopes of 2 full teams will improve its chances to win the cup! In the meantime, the team will be working on fitness, skills and social activities to ensure the Austin cup comes home to Philly!