CBR Team Blood Soccer Finishes Third in the Graduate Student Society Summer 2017 Soccer League!

By Abhinav Ajaykumar, PhD Candidate, Côté Lab, CBR

Having dominated most of the 2016 Graduate Student Society summer soccer league, the CBR’s team “Blood Soccer” was unfortunate not to break in to the top 4 playoffs, with only 1 goal difference separating them from the 4th placed team. This year, team Blood Soccer was determined to turn their fortunes around and qualify for the top 4 in 2017.

Blood Soccer started their campaign a bit shaky, trying to remove the “soccer rust” that had formed from not playing over the fall and winter terms. The team also had a number of new faces, and it is always challenging getting the chemistry going for game 1. The rustiness and lack of familiarity of the players proved costly, and Blood Soccer ended up losing the opening game 5-1. Although wounded by this score line, the team knew this was only the beginning and that they would improve with each passing week. A good 30 to 40-minute session of practice before each of the next 2 games helped the team win back-to-back matches, scoring 11 goals in the process and conceding only 4. Team Blood Soccer was finally coming together as a united force.

However, this momentum was arrested when absences and injuries to regular team players resulted in 2 losses in as many weeks. Going in to the business end of the season, the equation was simple – Blood Soccer had to win the last 2 matches in order to qualify for the playoffs. With players still out injured, the team knew this would be a daunting task, but not an impossible one. They had to play their best football. Marshalled by team captain, Prashant Kumar, and senior player, Usama Abbasi, Blood Soccer showed tremendous grit and determination to win the final 2 games and ensure that a repeat of 2016 was not in the cards. Team Blood Soccer made it to the playoffs!

Several members of Team Blood Soccer 2017

A scheduled break week, followed by a rescheduling of games due to the haze that had fallen upon the Vancouver skies in the aftermath of the BC wildfires, gave the team some time to nurse their injured players to health and prepare for the semifinals of the tournament. Blood Soccer was to face team “Green College,” a team that already had the upper hand, beating Blood Soccer 4-0 during one injury-plagued week. Having dominated the entire tournament, scoring 35 goals and losing only 1 of their 7 games, Blood Soccer knew that Green College was a force to reckon with and that the match would be extremely difficult. But, as always, Blood Soccer was up for the challenge and would not go down without a fight.

Green College opened the scoring with a thunderous shot that flew past Blood Soccer’s goalkeeper. Midway through the first half, Abhinav collected a well-orchestrated pass from Usama and charged though the left flank with a trademark sprint, breaking in to the opposition’s penalty area and neatly tucking away the ball beyond the goalkeepers reach to tie the score at 1-1. Green College scored again just before the halftime whistle, giving them the lead going in to break. Prashant rallied the group and made some tactical switches to start the second half. But, unfortunately, team Green College proved too good, putting 3 more past Blood Soccer’s goalkeeper’s net to hand them a 5-1 win. Blood Soccer ended the tournament in 3rd place, with Green College going on to win the tournament this year.

“It was lots of fun to meet and play with people from different departments in the CBR on a weekly basis during our soccer season. We had high energy undergraduates and graduates, as well as experienced postdocs playing together making things interesting :). It was a good season and looking forward to another team next summer,” said captain Prashant when reflecting back on the season.

“This year’s CBR Blood Soccer team was great fun. It was good to have all of us come together, no matter the skill level, and get running and kicking. From beginning to end, we grew as a team – we made it to the semifinals!! I thoroughly enjoyed it.” – Usama Abbasi

Overall, team Blood Soccer had a decent outing this year, with several notable performances. They will be back next year, stronger and better!

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