OPINION: YULA scored more goals, but both sides won at rivalry soccer match


BP Photo by Evan Beller

FOOTWORK: Firehawk junior Maalon Bohbot, who plays center back, took a free kick during the March 19 soccer game. The YULA Panthers defeated the Firehawks 2-1.

By Zane Mendelson, Staff Writer

It was inspiring. The level of decorum that each side’s students held throughout the game was flawless. All you heard from either side were chants of encouragement for their respective teams or an applause for a beautiful play. There were no boos, no spiteful shouts at the opposing fans – for the overwhelming majority of the game’s 80 minutes, simply people together a game to cheer on their school. 

After the events that occurred at YULA boys High School around Purim – one must believe this had something to do with it – about 215 people were present Saturday night March 19, 100 of them being Shalhevet fans, as the YULA Boys Panthers defeated the Shalhevet Firehawks 2-1 in a game that seemed like it had more meaning than a regular rivalry game. A normal Saturday night soccer game would not have generated that much interest, on either side. 

It felt like the Panthers were playing for something more than bragging rights – they were playing like they needed a win, and they got it – but not right away. For the Firehawks, freshman phenom Joe Edry was first on the scoreboard, after a magnificent cross into the middle of the goalie box by sophomore Maor Shaham, putting the Firehawks in the lead 1-0 midway through the first half. 

Shortly after, the Panthers struck back with a beautiful goal to the bottom left corner by YULA senior Hillel Valenci, tying the game 1-1. 

The parents didn’t behave as well as the students. Minutes into the second half, a verbal skirmish broke out between two fathers, one from each team, after a questionable call made by the ref. Rabbi Joseph Schreiber, Judaic Principal of YULA, and Dr. Jonny Ravanshenas, Dean of Student Life at Shalhevet, quickly ran over to break up the fight, while some Shalhevet alumni who were at the game came down the bleachers all the way from the top row, ready to defend the Shalhevet parent in case something escalated.

A normal Saturday night soccer game would not have generated that much interest, on either side.

But it was over quickly. YULA scored right after that, taking the lead 2-1. The YULA parent in the argument proceeded to celebrate by making a few last comments to the Shalhevet parent. Shalhevet threatened scoring a few more times after the goal by YULA but the Panthers would be able to hang on. 

Still, because the Firehawks scored the first goal, from that moment on the Firehawk fans had hope in their eyes and never lost it. YULA was undoubtedly favored heading into the game, due to their playing at a higher level of competition than the Firehawks in CIF play. So for Shalhevet, having a chance was a good place to be at. 

“We were in a good position to win that game,” said the Firehawks’ captain, senior Jakey Kahtan afterwards. “That is all we can really ask for.”

The Firehawks came up just short, but there was still a lot for both sides to take home. It was a night filled with good sportsmanship and dedication to one’s school. In that sense, everybody won.