The long-awaited staff vs. student soccer re-match was held last Friday afternoon on UNSW’s Village Green.
You may recall that the last contest between staff and students, in May 2015, saw the staff team emerge victorious after “man of the match” Spiro Penev kicked the winning (and sole) goal.
Whispers of a re-match transformed from rumour to reality over the course of the past year, with the gentle nudging of the School’s soccer president Wolfgang Schief, and the introduction of weekly practice sessions in the lead up.
Finally a date was locked in, teams were formed, and plans began in earnest.
Early on, it was clear that the staff team were reluctant to relinquish their hard-won title as reigning champions. But would they be able to back up their prior win?
Or would youthful energy and abandon trump experience and maturity, rendering the champs one-hit wonders - even suggesting their prior win was a fluke?
All would be revealed in due time…
A gathering of onlookers descended on the sidelines to watch the players battle it out. The next half hour featured fancy footwork and a series of heavy-duty headers, but among the numerous penalty kicks and foiled goals – testament to the quick reflexes of both teams’ goalies – came some highly anticipated and celebrated goals from each side.
By half time, marked by an ear-piercing whistle which reverberated across the oval, the score was neck and neck: 2 all.
With the game anyone’s at this stage, teams regrouped to talk strategy before breaking for refreshments.
The second half provided more nerve-wracking moments for spectators and players alike – some controversial disallowed goals and an injury added to the drama. A collective gasp sounded at the sight of staff player Jake Olivier tumbling over with an injured foot, but concern soon turned to delight when Jake miraculously rose minutes later to kick a goal!
When the time-keeper signalled the end of play, the result was sealed - victory for the staff team, at 5 goals to 2!
Players were no doubt relieved that a three-day weekend stretched before them as they kicked off their boots and enjoyed a post-game BBQ.