Archive for August 23rd, 2010

23
Aug
10

Chicago LFC Co-Ed (Summer Playoffs)

The summer regular season was anything but short of drama for the Co-ed Reds of Chicago LFC. There were forfeits and suspensions. There were angry e-mail exchanges among teammates and headlocks given to opponents. There were come-from-behind wins and blow out victories. And at least two players on the squad are sleeping together.

But through it all, the spirit of Liverpool persevered. With a 4-1-1 mark, marred only by an absurd forfeit during a game that conflicted with the World Cup Final, Chicago LFC entered the start of the summer league’s playoffs as the one-seed for the first time in team history. Among the many advantages of being the one seed: you get to play the crappiest team in the league in your first playoff game.

To kick things off Sunday, Chicago LFC faced Rancheros FC in the quarterfinals. The two teams had faced off a week prior, when an eight-man Rancheros side brought enough whine to fill up an aisle at Binny’s Beverage Depot. Not satisfied with losing 5-1 with eight players, Rancheros took the field with only seven players for the playoffs. Without their “I went to GameStop and got this free Guitar Hero t-shirt” wearing talisman, the league’s bottom feeders never stood a chance. In front of his adoring parents, Bryn Griffiths opened the scoring early. And I mean early; like 15 seconds into the game early. Griffiths opening tally was followed by….seriously, we’re really gonna do this?

We won 11 to freakin’ nothing! Griffiths scored three times and 40 year-old Greg Whalley did the same. Justin O’Neil and Heather Ribeiro, who are a combined 40 years old, each scored. Hell, even Tarek Abdel-Halim, who can’t drink water during games because he’s observing Ramadan, scored! Thanks for showing up, Rancheros.

The benefit of the 11-0 stroll in the park was that it allowed the Reds to conserve energy for their subsequent semifinal match. The opponent was to be determined by the morning’s second game between the fourth-seeded Uberstein and fifth-seeded Deportivo la Coruna. And while the denizens of Chicago’s faux Hofbrauhaus thoroughly dominated the match, they emerged with only a 1-0 victory. They were also forced to immediately re-take the field for a match with the ready and waiting Reds.

Chicago LFC arrived confident yet cautious for the semifinal. The Reds needed a second-half rally for a 2-1 win over Uberstein on Matchday 5 and knew that the Germans were not afraid to let fire from long range. A comprehensive defensive effort was required, and that’s precisely what the Reds gave.

The first half failed to separate the teams and a moment of early scrappiness prompted one Ubersteiner to tell his bench to “SHUT THE F— UP!!!” Chicago LFC controlled play, but Uberstein had the best chance late in the half. The Bavarians found their most vocal player unmarked in the box off a corner kick, but he was left to shut the f— up after his header went woefully wide.

In the second half, Chicago LFC took on the form of the Spanish National Team- dominating possession, controlling the game, and leaving on-lookers feeling that just one goal would be enough. That goal came off a picture-perfect Whalley free kick from 30 yards out, which swerved into the back of the next midway through the half. The free kick was set-up after O’Neil’s cross netted a hand ball. O’Neil immediately headed to the sideline and begged for an assist.

Hollice Wrobel continued to lead a courageous effort from the Reds backline late in the match. With only five women on-hand, Wrobel, Ribeiro, Jenny Sze, Lisa Gerberding and Meredith Lansdown were forced to work an overtime shift, with each contributing brilliantly. I’d like to give goalkeeper Aran Quinn credit as well, but the defense was so rock solid, Quinn gathered as many cobwebs as saves.

With the final whistle, the Reds ticket to the final was punched. The opposite side of the bracket sent Bakgat, the two-seed and CLFC’s bitter rivals, through to next Sunday’s showpiece as well. #1 will face #2 for the title. A shot at glory awaits the men and women in red and white.

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