Marineris, Capricornus 14, 2077, m249
Titans and Comets were the buzz throughout the colonies leading up to Week 14 of MAFL play.
And that was the buzz that permeated in each transport making the trek to Marineris Stadium. There were an unprecedented 16 transports with 6 making the long trek from other colonies accounting for more than 2,000 spectators - this was the first time both parking decks were used at Marineris Stadium.
Because they all wanted to see how the first place Titans would fare against the streaking Comets in this battle of the top two teams in the league.
The Comets came in hot with a five game winning streak. The Titans – molten lava: undefeated since Week 3 and owners of a 10 game winning streak.
One streak would end this week, and one team would earn a new level of bragging rights.
As the transports streaked to Marineris Stadium, a motley crew of passengers from executives to scientists to miners and bakers, laughed, debated and sang along in a raucous celebration of sport.
“I’ve been waiting weeks for this one”, said one passenger. “I got lucky and managed to scalp a seat with the savings I have. It’ll be worth it to see the Titans finally fall today.”
And all the signs in Week 14, pointed to a potential fall for the Titans off their San Olympus mountaintop.
Playing away from home – not good.
Playing without your Captain and leading scorer – even worse.
Minutes before the game, both Raenia Ware and Readale Nash were scratched from the lineup.
For Ware this was her 2nd missed game in a row as she recovers from an injury that occurred during pre-game practise before Week 13. Team officials cited Nash as being sick with no additional detail.
And without Nash, the Titans offence was anemic with a noticeable lack of spark. Thanks to a combination of stubborn Comets defending and a dearth of quality in the Titans attack, the game was goalless at half-time.
The depth in the Titans defence, anchored by Maria Fernanda Carballal, Terry Park, and Renatta Blundell, were also able to prevent any significant attacking momentum for the Comets.
The second half saw more of the same from both teams albeit a bit more spark from the Titans’ June Terrell who generated two scoring chances but was unable to deliver.
As one viewer observed, “It didn’t look like either team was playing to win, but rather playing to not lose.”
Which resulted in a scoreless situation at the end of regulation time – Straight to Penalty Kicks.
And while defence dominated (and dulled) regular play, it was the genius of goalkeeping from the Titans’ Icilio De Sisto and Comets’ Zaida Agre that brought the crowd back to life.
Shot 1 – Comets Captain Liddell Bradley goes top right corner as a diving De Sisto deflects it over the net.
Shot 2 – Titans Terrell goes left…and into the hands of Zaida Agre.
Shot 3 – Comets Jonathan Elliott goes right and De Sisto guesses right.
Shot 4 – Titans Tany Ingram kicks a low right corner shot which a lunging Agre gets a hand on.
Shot 5 – Comets Luz Oregon charged up and launched a rocket left that De Sisto barely tips wide.
Shot 6 – Titans Ron Perez goes top left corner which Agre anticipated with a leap and one handed catch.
“The goalkeepers can read minds”, said one fan.
Was this going to go long like Al’amal vs Wuji? <insert link to Don’t take a breath, Sudden Death>
Shot 7 – Comets Isabelle Marsh boosted a kick left which De Sisto guessed correctly.
For Shot 8, it was Titans Pardeep Langanash’s turn.
In Week 7, Langanash scored in PKOT with a boost kick to the right corner over Agre.
So this time, Langanash faked a boost kick to the right which Agre bit ever so slightly, and then blasted a low left corner past a late recovering Agre….GOAL!
Comet Fans were stunned in disbelief while the transports from San Olympus erupt!
Shot 9, Comet's last chance – Kyrie Barnet fakes left then goes right but De Sisto’s patience prevails.
The Titans pull off their 11th win in a row and move to 14 and 1 for the season. The Comet’s five game winning streak is snapped as they fall to 9 and 5 in the standings.
The chance for Comets redemption will have to wait until the final game of the season in Week 21 when the two teams meet again at San Olympus.