MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – --
The Commanding General’s Intramural Soccer League season came down to its end. The last two and a half months of the season built up to this, two teams, one title and the championship game.
After hard fought battles and built up rivalries throughout the season, the final teams remaining, Headquarters Battalion, and Marine Corps Commun- ications-Electronics School arrived for the final showdown at Felix Field July 14.
MCCES went the entire season undefeated. “We are confident,” said Terence Harrell, the coach of the MCCES team, before the game. “We had an outstanding season.”
For HQBN, the championship game was determined to be one of the hardest matches they played. “It was going to be the battle of the strongest two teams. Everybody knew it was going to be MCCES and HQBN,” said Misker Derseh, the assistant coach for the HQBN team.
The teams lined up in the center of the field World Cup style to face the flag as the national anthem played. The hype on the field was rising as the players took their positions. After just one minute of play, HQBN took MCCES by surprise and scored the first goal.
“We shocked them,” Derseh said. “Throughout the season, MCCES has always attacked their opponent, they have never been attacked, and it worked.” Overconfidence was an issue on the MCCES team as they realized HQBN had come to play, said Harrell.
The game grew intense as one team would score, the other would strike back and score as well. At the start of the second half, HQBN led 3-2.
“We played with an element of frustration, no one ever scored on us first,” said Harrell.
The MCCES team did not play well, said Rene Renteria, a player for the MCCES team. “HQBN was the better team that day. We were never down [in goals] during the season, so when we were, we didn’t know how to react.”
In the final moments of the game, HQBN ran down the field on a breakaway and scored one final goal, giving them the victory over MCCES 4-2.
As HQBN celebrated their triumph, and MCCES accepted defeat, a ruling was announced which seemed to shock and silence everyone on the field.
“The rule is, in order to qualify for the championship playoffs, a player must be on the roster of two regular season games,” said Skip Best, the athletic director for Marine Corps Community Services.
A name on the HQBN team was not found on the rosters of the regular season games, making him ineligible.
The victory, due to a technicality, went to MCCES.
“That was no way to win. We lost and should have played a second game,” Renteria said.
Neither team was happy. “We were mad, MCCES was mad. It’s unfortunate we messed up on the rosters, but Skip did the right thing. The ruling was fair,” Derseh said.
“Personally it was a sour way to lose but rules are out there to be abided by and I respect that,” he added.
The championship did not have the familiar screaming, jumping and water jug dumping on the coach depicted on ESPN, but instead, the MCCES team reluctantly took the trophy after their long hard and controversial fight.
“It is not the way I would have liked to end a flawless season,” Harrell said. “In a sense of pride and true spirit of the game, no one likes to lose like that on a technicality, but in the true spirit of the game, no one should be forced to win like that either.”
Harrell also extended an invitation to the HQBN team, “If at any time HQBN wants to play friendly to settle things, we would be happy to do so.”