Coming off an SGIS championship win the week before, when the Zurich Lions Varsity Football Team departed by flight on Wednesday, headed to Brussels, the expectations were high. Having been relegated from division 1 a few years prior and suffering from an ISST championship drought for a long time, this year seemed like the year. The team was a healthy mix of three-year varsity veteran twelfth graders, tenth grade varsity newcomers and everything in between. The first, group-stage, games were played on Thursday and resulted in two victories, 3-1 and 2-0 against BSN and TASIS respectively. Then after a good night’s sleep, two more games were played on Friday. The first being the last game of the group-stage against BSB which ended in a 2-0 victory for Zurich and resulted in the top spot of their pool and a semi-final that same day against second place holders of the other group, ISB. This one was the first and only nail-biter Zurich played all tournament. After conceding two goals in the first half, the Zurich team showed great character and resilience and was able to make a comeback to tie 2-2 after full time. After an additional 20 minutes of extra-time, penalties had to decide the victor of the game. Four well-placed penalties and two brilliant saves by goalkeeper Pieter Ooms (’19) resulted in Zurich advancement to the final the day after. A change of location to a slightly more muddy and bumpy field seemed to benefit the Zurich team as they faced off Cairo International School in the finals for a rather comfortable 4-0 victory. Three ZIS players were well-deservedly awarded with all-tournament recognition, central midfielder and magician with the ball: Alex Graber (’18), central midfielder, workhorse and inspiring captain: Matthew Davidson (’18) and central defender and brick wall: Alexandros Kalkanis (’19). Although these players were recognised, there were many standout performances, for example, the scrappy goal-scorers Yannick Helfenstein (’19) and Ricardo Rapetti (’18) and the lightning-quick left and right midfielders Illka Cheema (’18) and Ali Tonbul (’18) to name a few. Another aspect of the success of this years team has been the great coaching of Michael Johnston, always able to both inspire and instruct his players in order for them to perform at their peaks while maintaining a friendly and approachable attitude which in turn creates a strong cohesion in the team as a whole.
Next year the team will be competing in division one while losing its seniors to the world. It will be a difficult challenge, but one that the ZIS football program will embrace and take head on.
Written by Alexander Glansk (‘18)
Edited by Lucas Frauenlob (’20) and Felicity Black (’18)