MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The competition in the Commanding General’s Intramural Soccer League playoffs was fierce as Combat Logistics Battalion 7 battled Headquarters Battalion in the semifinals July 19.
The game was delayed until 8 p.m. in an attempt to spare the players from the heat, but even at night, the warm desert air was taking a toll on both teams as they fought on the field.
“It was win or go home,” said Francisco Sanchez, the coach of CLB-7. “We had to play like we knew how.”
HQBN knew the game was not going to be easy, and they needed to pull together, said Misker Derseh, a player for HQBN. “Our team always gets together to play at the next level,” he said. “We knew we had to put out, and everybody stepped up.”
HQBN drew first blood and went on to take a 3-0 lead into halftime. “For some reason, morale on the team was down,” said Edgardo Flores, a player for CLB-7. The team's goalkeeper was not in the game and that was having an impact on the team, said Flores.
A tired and discouraged CLB-7 team made a momentous change in attitude in an effort to change the momentum of a game that was slowly getting away from them. “At the half, we just wanted to play for fun and enjoy playing the game we love,” said Sanchez.
HQBN was comfortable with their three point lead. “We relaxed after the first half and they capitalized,” Derseh said.
In the second half, CLB-7 demonstrated they would not go down without a fight and showed the skills that got them to the semifinals. The team put two goals in the net and began to tough their way back as the match intensified.
HQBN halted the comeback team's run after CLB-7 committed a foul in the goal box that led to a HQBN goal from a penalty kick. HQBN scored one more to dash CLB-7's hope and earn a shot at the title.
“We were very anxious before the game,” Derseh said. “It came down to heart and who wanted it more. Our ultimate goal was to play [Marine Corps Communications and Electronics School] for the championship, and we had to go through CLB-7 to do it.”
Sanchez said he was very proud of CLB-7's semifinal performance, considering this was the first time the unit had fielded a soccer team. “We did really well and had a fun season.”
As the game ended, HQBN was already looking ahead to the championship game, where they will face MCCES, their biggest competitor of the season, based on win-loss records.