TELLURIDE – If sports writers got their wish, the underdog would win – for drama’s sake.
But if the perennial champions are going to reign victorious, they may as well do so in dramatic style. That’s exactly what happened Tuesday, when the coed soccer league’s Fat Alley assailed Flubba Dubba Floradora with a fiery late-game outburst that ended with Fat Alley taking the title of the coed A league’s champs. Again.
Fat Alley has now won the cup four consecutive years, and possibly longer, if anyone cared to remember that far back.
Their 5-1 win Tuesday night over fourth-ranked Flubba Dubba secured the 2008 title for Fat Alley, who were undefeated in round two play. Due to a change in league play this season, there was not an end-of-season championship tournament.
Fat Alley’s secret to success is simple, according to team manager and veteran player Matt Mitchell, who scored four of his team’s five goals on Tuesday: Fat Alley knows how to play soccer.
“It’s one- and two-touch passes, passing to feet, crossing the ball instead of taking the shot… It’s playing as a team is what it is,” Mitchell said on Tuesday.
Fat Alley flew to the early lead, with Mitchell storming upfield to score just moments after the kickoff whistle. The early goal was a rude awakening for Flubba Dubba, but it also got them fired up to give Fat Alley some real competition. Intense defense kept the score locked at 1-0 the remainder of the half.
Early in the second, Flubba Dubba found their best opportunity to tie the score when they were awarded a penalty kick. Forward Sean McCarthy shot just wide of Fat Alley keeper Bill Hoins’s net, the echoing “ding” of leather on metal lingering over the field as a disappointing reminder that the shot had been achingly close.
Mitchell got hold of the ball minutes later, and despite giving Dubba defender Casey Arnold a good chase, easily landed the shot to put the score at 2-0.
Yet Flubba Dubba wasn’t ready to let go of the game just yet.
Fat Alley’s Hoins was lured out of his net on what looked to be a routine snag, but Flubba’s Zac Abbruzzese tipped it to teammate Jesse Parry, whose fine header sailed over Hoins’s head and into the net.
Flying high on the momentum of their sole goal, Flubba Dubba’s fast-footed forwards Chris Esch and J.D. Kirkendoll made menacing attacks, but Fat Alley’s calculating defenders were impossible to crack.
Meanwhile, Fat Alley’s midfield pack was preparing to swarm. Mitchell took possession and knocked a third goal back. Fat Alley then delivered the crushing, one-two punch: Brendan Clark nailed one in the Dubba net off a Mitchell pass to make the score 4-1, then Mitchell fired another shot off Kristin Hoins’s beauty of a corner kick to put the game wholly in Fat Alley’s favor.
A subdued celebration followed the final game whistle: a few Fat Alley high fives, and a team trip to their sponsor restaurant for dinner. After so many years of winning, taking the championship title is old hat for Fat Alley, a team that boasts a roster of veteran soccer players – many of whom have played together for decades. And according to Mitchell, will continue to play together until, well, who knows.
“With all our geriatric problems and parent-teacher conferences, we’re going to continue to play soccer together,” Mitchell said. “A lot of us have been playing soccer a long time together, and it shows. We aren’t the fittest and we’re not the fastest – for us, it’s simply a matter of playing soccer.”
The game between La Tapatia and Buck/United to determine the second place team was played Thursday night; results were not available as of press time.