First football triumph! by Tommy Le
March 23rd, Warsaw Poland. Saturday morning I reached the Meridian School’s Futsal Hall for the Meridian Principal Cup. In previous years, IAS had lost to every team in the tournament. During warm-ups, coach Maciek called us down for a pep talk. We decided that our aim was not to give up many goals and maintain a solid defense.
Our first match was with Lauder-Morasha. Our defense was strong and we managed to pressure the opponent with attacks and fine passes. Then, striker Jakub Daniluk broke through with our first goal. We were ecstatic! Morasha counter-attacked and evened the match. But when the referee whistled the match over, the score was 5-3…in favor of IAS! Jakub scored all five goals. The result blew our minds. Coach Maciek congratulated us and our spirits were high.
In our second match against Meridian I, we faced players that were bigger and stronger. We played great defense the entire match. Just one minute was left and the score was 0–0. We prepared for the draw. Then, suddenly, the referee blew his whistle and signaled for a free kick. Robert Raptis was fouled near the goal! Meridian I prepared their wall and Robert planned his attack.
Robert decided shoot straight at the wall and the ball went under the feet of the jumping opponent, leaving space enough for it to spin into the bottom-left corner. The atmosphere went wild! Meridian I argued that the free kick was unfair, but to no avail. The final whistle blew: IAS 1–0 Meridian I.
We had secured our position in the semifinals and giddy players posted the news on facebook. Our next match was against Gymnasium 99. This time, we were determined to win.
The match began ominously, as Gymnasium 99 scored first. However, we counter-attacked and scored four consecutive goals! They managed one more goal, but we were determined and won the match 4–2. We had won our group.
In the semifinal, we were up against Gymnasium 24, a team that played to four draws in their group matches. This gave us confidence. We won the match easily, 4–1, and were headed to the finals.
Guess who? Our nemesis—Meridian I. We got lucky the first time with the free kick. And now, they wanted revenge. We studied their players before the match and they were staring back at our souls, consumed with anger. We decided on a different game plan, to go on the attack.
Defender Adrian Bogucki scored the first goal. Then Meridian I received a free kick. It bounced off our wall and gave them the equalizer. Payback. But then our brave Daniluk crippled their defenses and scored, giving us the advantage. After many successful saves on our end, they got their equalizer—an embarrassing goal that sailed by the goalkeeper’s blocked vision.
Then it happened, the last minute—déjà vu. Again a foul by the goal, again a free kick awarded to Robert Raptis! He shot it into the back corner and gave us the winning goal. The referee blew the final whistle. We couldn’t believe what we achieved. The local crowd was silent and I pinched myself just to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming.
Championship match score: IAS 3–2 Meridian I.
Jakub Daniluk, with 12 goals in all, was given the tournament’s “golden boot” as top scorer. Coach Maciek lifted the cup for the school. Check it twice: IAS is a champion.