Battle of the Sexes

by Mike Mantell | 11/11/12 11:00pm

Hello, readers. Yes, formal season is winding down. Yes, the excitement surrounding elections has come and gone. And yes, finals are about to devour your life. But don't let that dampen your spirits because if you keep reading, you will find out what happens when a group of Normal Normans takes on Dartmouth's varsity field hockey team!

The Setup: This field hockey bout wasn't just the last match of the "Battle of the Sexes" season, it was my last chance to recover any pride, my last chance to save face, my last chance to avoid a winless season. So I assembled the best male field hockey team that I could fathom, comprised of myself, Paul Trethaway '13, Sam Worth '13, Michael Shagrin '13, Tyler Wallace '13 and Eric Wu '13. We challenged Maya Herm '13, Jess Barfield '16, Victoria Tersigni '14, Sam Anderson '14 and Sam McPherson '13 to a five-on-five game with two eight-minute halves. Since us boys had an extra player, we had the advantage of having one substitute, but the girls thought we needed an even greater advantage than this, so they suggested that their goals would only count if the shot went into the top half of their goal, while the boy team could shoot anywhere in our goal. Desperate for any kind of victory, I gladly accepted this gift.

The Showdown: The girls started with the ball but initially struggled to decipher our wild defense we unabashedly flailed our canes and shamelessly kicked at sticks, balls and girls.

At the 1:50 mark, Shagrin inexplicably brought the ball to an abandoned corner of the field and just waited. Eventually, the girls converged on him, but at the last second, he managed to wallop the ball, lofting it all the way across the field to an unpopulated patch of turf in front of the girls' goal. Paul anticipated this wild fling, chased the ball down and scored on an open breakaway. This put the boys up 1-0.

With 40 seconds left in the half, I stood in front of our goal as the goalie and watched McPherson maneuver around Eric and Tyler and unleash an absolute rocket launcher of a shot directed squarely at my face. Naturally, I crumbled straight to the ground in fear. This unfortunately allowed the ball to zing right past me for a last-second goal. At the end of the half, we were tied 1-1.

The ladies started the second half off ferociously, leaving many of the boys feeling intimidated. Three minutes in, Sam had the ball and began bringing it up field, until Anderson locked in on him and blocked his path. With no other ideas, Sam just whapped at the ball as hard as he could. It floated in the air, pegged Samantha in the chest and bounced up field. The ball rolled to Shagrin, who capitalized on Samuel's bizarre play by shooting in a smooth goal. This put the boys up 2-1.

At the 5:10 mark, Maya got her surgeon on as she dissected our defense she cut past Paul and sliced by Tyler until I was the only thing between her and the goal. She missiled the ball toward me, but this time I did not collapse in cowardice; instead, I merely covered my face in cowardice. I managed to deflect the ball with the side of my right knee-cap. This highly excruciating pain caused me to black out for several seconds. When I eventually blacked back in, I saw Jess score the ball right in front of me. Despite my valiant knee save, we had a tie ball game at 2-2.

With one minute left, Tyler weaved a surprisingly skillful pass through the defense to a wide open Sam. In yet another state of panic, Sam took an enormous swing at the ball, but made literally zero contact. This monumental whiff caused him to lose balance and nearly topple over. But Sam is a competitor and is immune to discouragement. Not 20 seconds later, he ended up in front of the goal with the ball yet again, but this time he rolled it in, giving the boys a 3-2 lead that they did not relinquish.

Afterward, we played a quick five-minute match without any advantages for either team. I am not going to go into the details of this second match due to space constraints and the fact that my team got smeared across the turf in that one.

The Breakdown: This season has been a blast. I have successfully embarrassed myself for eight consecutive weeks, getting repeatedly spanked by all sorts of female athletes. But this week, I finally won! I am willing to ignore the fact that we had an extra sub. I am also willing to ignore the fact that the girls technically scored seven goals, but five didn't count due to our handicap. All I care about is that I got a W this season, albeit one with an asterisk next to it. Think of it this way: Would Barry Bonds rather be the all-time home run leader with an asterisk or not on the list at all?

So call me Barry if you want, but as the season concludes, we have Mike: 1*, women's varsity: 7.