Business students battle on soccer field

To unwind from poring over complex spreadsheets, School of Management students and alumni are lacing up cleats and hitting the field.

Ten business schools brought 13 teams to campus this weekend to compete in the Yale Cup, a soccer tournament hosted by SOM since 1989. All three of Yale’s teams — SOM United, SOM Bulldogs and SOM Alumni — dropped out before the semifinals, but six students interviewed said they still appreciated the respite playing soccer provided from the rigors of pursuing a master’s in business administration. Three alumni added that the Cup is a tradition that brings the SOM community together each year.

“The Cup is definitely one of the highlights of the academic year at the SOM, for us,” said Diego Granizo SOM ’12, one of four leaders of the soccer club and an organizer of the Cup.

The Columbia Lions, one of two teams from the New York Ivy, took home the cup after beating out Dartmouth’s team, 4–0, in the finals.

Though only one of Yale’s teams made it past the initial group stage and ultimately lost to Harvard in the quarterfinals, four Yalies interviewed said they were satisfied with Yale’s performance.

Frank Kyei-Manu SOM ’13, a center midfielder on the SOM United team, said SOM United did far better this weekend than last year. The team scored eight goals and played four games, whereas last year, SOM United scored only one goal and dropped out after three games.

This year, Kyei-Manu said the team improved throughout the tournament.

“With every game, our confidence increased,” he said.

Still, other members of SOM United said their 2–1 quarterfinal loss against one of Harvard’s teams was difficult to bear because of the traditional rivalry between the two schools.

Despite the general air of competitiveness at the tournament, Granizo said the cup was intended to encourage students to get to know their peers at other business schools.

Yale’s soccer club hosted a dinner Saturday at the Graduate and Professional Student Center at Yale, otherwise known as GPSCY.

Still, only one of six students interviewed said meeting new people was an integral part of the tournament.

Matthew Perry SOM ’13 said that, if anything, the Cup was a chance to bond with classmates.

Andre Pedriali, one of the captains of Columbia’s teams, said networking with other students was an important aspect of the cup. Pedriali said he met students from Yale and the Wharton School. Still, he added playing soccer was more important to him than networking this weekend. In general, students come to the tournament above all because of a passion for soccer, Granizo added.

John Hackett SOM ’93, who helped run and establish the Yale Cup in his time as an SOM student, said he has returned many times since graduating to play on the alumni team. While he was unable to play this year because he is recovering from surgery in his left leg, he looked on from the sidelines as his team played against a Harvard team, a Wharton team and a team from the Tepper School at Carnegie Mellon University. Brian Upbin SOM ’00, current captain of this year’s alumni team, called Hackett the “honorary captain.”

For members of the alumni team, the annual tournament is a chance to catch up with friends, Hackett said. He added that he personally feels a strong connection to the Yale Cup and to the other Yalies who have participated in it over the years, and he compared this tie to the bond among fraternity brothers.

Other members of the alumni team said they enjoy the tradition of camaraderie the Cup brings.

“I’ve been to more [Yale Cups] than alumni functions,” Upbin said.

But coming year after year can be tough, Hackett said. He added that marriages and children can sometimes get in the way, as his younger teammates jokingly interjected that “hip replacements” are also a potential hindrance.

Despite their age, Yale’s SOM alumni team took home the Cup in 2007.

“There certainly is some satisfaction in outrunning a 23-year-old when you’re in your 40s,” Hackett said.

The tournament ran from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

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