Simon Super Soccer!

By James Russell

Last week, your Simon Soccer Club travelled to New Haven, Connecticut to participate in the 20th  Annual Yale Cup Soccer Tournament. The tournament brought together graduate student athletes from top educational institutions for a two-day tournament just off the Yale campus. Participating schools included Harvard, Chicago, Duke, North Western, Wharton, Columbia, NYU, MIT, Babson, Carnegie Mellon, IPADE, Dartmouth and Yale. Based on size alone, Simon was placed at an immediate disadvantage before even leaving the University of Rochester parking lots. The size and talent pool of the larger schools could have intimidated a lesser squad, but it only served as a motivator for the Rochester faithful. Severely underestimated by the organizers, competition and spectators, the Simon team approached each contest as an opportunity to show the B-School community the pride, passion and quality of the Simon brand.


The group stage started early Sunday morning where Simon would meet Duke, Columbia Lions, and NYU in Group A match play. Three of the four teams in the group had advanced past the group stage at the Tuck MBA World Cup this past spring (Columbia Lions, NYU, Simon) with Simon and NYU advancing to the semi-finals respectively. Needless to say, this was the proverbial “group of death” breathing fear into the other teams as they waited to see who would advance from this power group. In the early match up against a very athletic Duke crew, Jason Reminick (MD/MBA) used his long throw-in to hit Mike Webb’s (MBA ’10) head deep in the Duke zone. Mike flicked the ball on, surprising the keeper and putting Simon up 1-0. In hopes of preserving the lead, Simon fell back into a defensive mode as Duke pushed for the  “equalizer.” Late in the 2nd half their efforts paid off and the game finished 1-1. In the 2nd match-up, Simon took the field against NYU who was coming off a loss to Columbia. NYU came out physical and tough, living up to their “Stern” namesake as they played for their tournament lives. Midway through the 2nd half, Barry Poechmann (MBA ’09) sent a through-ball over the NYU defense to James Russell (MBA ’10). A step inside the box was all Russell needed to strike home a half-volley to the far post providing an early candidate for goal of the tournament. Again Simon weathered the NYU storm falling into a defensive strategy, but yet another late push by NYU forced a second 1-1 draw.


Simon entered the third game in a “must-win” scenario. Win or go home. The Columbia Lions entered the game attempting to advance as the group winners; little did Columbia know Simon had plans to earn the #1 seed themselves. In true Simon fashion, the club surprised the Lions from The City and with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Reminick slotted home a strike from 20 yards out; giving Simon a familiar 1- 0 lead. Learning from their previous two matches, Simon kept their foot on the pedal and pushed offensively. Webb made another appearance on the score sheet by netting yet another header off a well executed corner kick providing Simon with some much needed insurance, 2-0 Simon. Breaking the Lions spirits and sealing the victory for the Simon faithful, Brazilian Felipe Samico (MBA ’10) broke through the Columbia defensive core and finished the teams third of the afternoon, ending the game in comfortable fashion, 3-0 Simon. With the victory, and undefeated record, Simon qualified as the #1 seed from Group A, slotted to play the hosts from Yale in the quarterfinals. Despite near freezing temperatures, pouring rain and gusts of wind that were knocking spare nets over, the tournament carried on Sunday morning. After surviving a few Rochester winters over the years, the Simon squad laughed at Mother Nature as she tried to deter the team from getting the job done.


In the quarterfinals against the hosts from Yale, Simon followed the same pattern as they did the day before by scoring early. Leon Pijpaert (MS ’10) netted a screamer from 25 yards out, off a brilliant pass from Sergio Fernandez (MBA ’10). Within minutes Yale had equalized off an unlucky bounce inside Simon’s box. The remainder of the game was played mostly in the Yale end where Simon attacked ruthlessly, yet unsuccessfully. To decide the deadlock at fulltime, the teams went directly to the penalty shootout where Simon’s hopes were placed on the humble shoulders of Vinayak (Vin) Behl (MBA ’10), Simon’s trusted goalkeeper. Vin stood tall in goal (stopping two Yale penalty shots) providing Mike Annechino (MBA ’09) opportunities to eliminate the hosts and bury the winning kick, sending Simon into the semi finals. Goal scorers in the shootout were:


Sergio Fernandez,

Severin Price (MBA ’11)
James Russell (MBA ’10)
Mike Annechino.


The Semi’s placed Simon against long time rival The Blues, Columbia’s top team. The Blues have walked away with first place finishes at four consecutive tournaments, entering the weekend as the #1 overall seed. Facing freezing temperatures, borderline hypothermic players and mud covered jerseys; Simon came out with a burst of energy, surprising the Columbia team early. The relentless attack had Columbia’s coaching staff up in arms at the performance of their “Championship Squad”. Late in the first half Columbia stepped up their play and finished a fine goal to put Simon in an unfamiliar position. For the first time in the tournament, they would have to play from behind. With no desire to leave the tournament early, Simon dug deep and pressed on. The team was able to keep the ball in Columbia’s end nearly 100% of the time as they pushed for the equalizer. Late in the second half, Severin Price (MBA ’11) danced around three Columbia defenders before being fouled badly as he headed towards goal. This set up a free-kick 25 yards from the net for Leon Pijpaert. In what looked like a  "bend it like Beckham” moment, Pijpaert was able to swing the ball around the wall of Columbia defenders and into the top corner of the net keeping Simon’s hopes alive for its first ever finals appearance. The goal also trumped Russell’s strike from a day prior as “Goal of the Tournament”. Regulation time ended soon after and the game headed to penalty shots again. Vin did his best to pick off the Columbia penalty shots, but the cold, rainy conditions made his life miserable. Columbia was able to seal the victory on their 5th shooter, eliminating Simon in 3rd place. With this great result, combined with the 3rd place finish at the Tuck MBA World Cup last spring, Simon should be ranked the #2 soccer program among North American schools heading into the Texas tournament in February where they hope to improve on their great results and make the entire Simon community proud. Meliora!


Click here for photos Download WATS – Yale Article
Yale Cup Roster 2009: 

Roberto Vasquez ’04, Serge Majdalani ’09, Mike

Annechino ’09, Vinayak Behl ’10, Bakhodir Khodjayev

’10, Mike Webb (C) ’10, Rajesh Sharma ’10, Severin

Price ’11, Sergio Fernandez ’10, Leon Pijpaert ’10,

Alia Tabet ’09, James Russell (C) ’10, Jagger Koerner

’11, Barry Poechmann ’09, Felipe Samico ’10, Jason

Reminick (MD/MBA), Ricardo Medeiros ‘10

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