MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- “It is do or die now,” said Cpl. Hugo Antunez, mid fielder, Alliance FC. “If you come out here and don’t take it seriously, then you better start cheering for another team because you’re going to lose and end up on those sidelines. You have to be hungry for that first place.”
The start of the Commanding General’s Intramural Soccer League Playoffs intensified the competition between soccer players at Felix Field, April 23, 2014. Every team will qualify but only one will walk away with bragging rights.
“We won this league last year and we want it again this year,” Antunez said. “Skill is important, but in the end, you have to want it more than the other team.”
Though the competition is fierce, the league also serves as a way for players to get away from their everyday schedule.
“These leagues are fantastic,” said Lance Cpl. Miguel Garcia, forward, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment soccer team. “We can come out here, have a good time and play the sport we love. Yes the competition is good, but these couple of months mainly serve as something to look forward to after our work day.”
The annual soccer league began in March and teams have been competing against one another for a first-round bye. The top four teams will avoid elimination in the first game and will receive an automatic bid to compete in the final 8.
“A first-round bye is always important,” said Lance Cpl. Oscar Almodova, forward, Alliance FC. “The competition is good out here and any team can knock you out. To lose in the first game of the playoffs would be devastating.”
The 12-team bracket will consist of every team who participated in the league. The place that the teams finished in the regular season will determine who they will play in the playoffs. The higher seeds will play against the lower seeds unless the team has earned a first-round bye. The first round was held April 23 immediately followed by the quarter finals, held April 24. The semifinals were held April 30.
“We have made it this far and we don’t plan on stopping,” Almodova said. “We have had our eyes on first place since the beginning of the league and nothing has changed.”
With only two teams left to compete, the league champions will be determined during the finals at Felix Field, May 5 at 6 p.m.