Cisco 5, Light Reading 4

West beats East in the first leg of what could evolve into the football rivalry of the decade (but probably won't)

May 19, 2003

6 Min Read
Cisco 5, Light Reading 4

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- New York's Light Reading Cosmos fell to West Coast glamour team Cisco Systems Inc. in the optical networking industry's preeminent football fixture of the weekend (that's soccer to youse Americans).

In the sweaty heat-trap otherwise known as Off The Wall Soccer, the New Yorkers got what they expected -- a hotly contested physical match with thrills and spills to boot.

The Cosmos, well-known for their second-half collapses -- delivered yet again, taking a 2-1 lead into halftime only to crumple in the heat, victims of their own pub-based conditioning regimen. However, after going down quickly 2-5 in the early parts of the second-half, they mounted a scrappy last-minute comeback -- but ran out of time.

The pregame warmup was not without drama, as Light Reading's regular goalie Chen Jiang (a.k.a. "J.C.") discovered belatedly (after a league match, a practice session, and a cross-country airplane ride) that he had in fact broken his hand earlier in the week. The Cosmos' crack management team was not to be fooled, however, astutely concluding just minutes before the game that a one-handed goalie might not be such a good idea. Backup keeper Tom Vanderbilt obliged, making an impossible number of outstretched saves reminiscent of the comic-book hero Plastic Man.

"We think Light Reading played a great game," Mike Volpi would have said, had we bothered to ask him. "They were great sports, and we're certainly not going to gloat about a game that's result was so close," added Volpi, as he turned somersaults across midfield after the game's final whistle.

"Of course we're not upset," said team manager Scott Raynovich, after breaking a chair and sending half-drunk Gatorade bottles flying. "Cisco deserved to win this one because they played a superior game. This time I won't blame the ref as I normally do."

Click forward for the full report.33973_3.jpgHere's a brief rundown of the game's highlights from our slightly far-sighted correspondent who was able to call upon his years of experience as a soccer player (0) and his formidable background as a soccer reporter (0 articles in 0 years):

First Half

  • 3:50 – Light Reading's midfielder Guy Williams blocks a shot on goal using nothing but his face. After the game is briefly paused, it is discovered that Guy was alright, if only slightly uglier. The ball, however, rolled away frightened and weeping.

  • 4:50 – Cisco slips a crossing pass into the corner to the delight of the home crowd, which have begun hanging taunting signs on the bleachers. Very plain, unstylish, single-color signs in a boring font, mind you.

  • 14:15 – Light Reading answers with a goal of its own – one that looks suspiciously as if it were nothing more than a misplayed back-pass from Cisco's squad that dibbled past a stunned goalie.

  • 12:03 – A total stranger at the concession stand wryly observes that the jittery Cisco squad is outrunning its passes and Light Reading's squad, anxious to score, is taking shots from as far away as Sacramento. "Don't worry. Both sides will settle down," shouted another observer over the din of winded 30- and 40-somethings gasping for air as they lumbered downfield.

    {Image 6}

  • 26:31 – Light Reading's star forward Scyld Bowring (no, of course he's not a ringer!) puts just enough bounce on a short pass and Claudio Storelli (no, he's not a ringer either, really!), right wing, smashes it into the lower left corner of Cisco's goal. Light Reading leads 2-1. Okay, so Storelli, a senior at Stanford, was recruited by Light Reading's squad just before the match, after the crack management team discovered they didn't have enough players to start.

  • 28:51 – Light Reading's mascot, Larry the Monkey (impersonated by Light Reading salesman extraordinaire Dave Williams), arrives and begins shaking the bleachers. Take that, you lousy signmakers.

  • 30:00 - It's halftime, and heavy underdogs Light Reading take a 2-1 lead to the locker room. Team owner and CEO Stephen Saunders gives a fire-and-brimstone speech before pausing to throw up, and then threatens to withhold Raynovich's paycheck if he doesn't stop running in those silly little circles.

    33973_9.jpgSecond Half

  • 32:27 – Cisco ties the game 2-2 off a corner kick by Evgenii Zherebchevskiy, whose name is worth 4,769 points in Scrabble®. And no, that wasn't a certain Light Reading defender with a long Slavic name redirecting the cross into the goal. It was the wind. Or something.

  • 33:38 – Cisco scores again! Oh no, it's 3-2! This time Craig Strachman cleans up some rubbish in front of the net. He would end the day with two goals. Or maybe it was Kevin Allen or Tim Fairman, who each had one goal during the match. Trouble is, no one could make out the green number on a green-striped jersey. It was like looking at one of those 3D blotchy pictures that you have to stare at for several minutes before the main image is apparent.

  • 41:29 – Cisco scores again, going ahead 4-2! The crowd goes wild. Larry the Monkey sneaks off for a nip of the bottle.


  • 47:24 – Cisco scores yet again. It's now a depressing 5-2. This match is going into the toilet. The crowd goes ballistic. Larry the Monkey is devastated.

  • 53:46 – Whew! Scott Raynovich, Light Reading's midfielder, serves up an uncontested rocket into the back of Cisco's goal, closing the gap to 5-3. See – it is possible to score from Sacramento. Even as fatigue sets in, the Cosmos make it known they're not going to lie down and die... yet.

  • 55:45 – Bowring, after having words with his teamates, stuns Cisco for the second time in two minutes with a run from midfield that takes him by two defenders and smashes the ball into that tiny, tiny net. It's now 5-4, and the momentum is clearly in the Cosmos' camp.

  • 57:50 – Light Reading's playmaker Tony Claudino takes a two-minute penalty for attempting to take out a Cisco player's kneecaps. It's a crushing blow to the Cosmos, who have been applying heavy pressure but must now play shorthanded for the final two minutes. "They wouldn't have called that penalty in New York," Claudino protested. "I didn't even get a good shot at him, because he was running away."

  • As a last-minute Cosmos surge is succesfully repelled by Cisco's suddenly earnest defense, it's clear that the pub is already calling Light Reading's tattered crew.

  • Cisco treats both teams to some nice ale and soggy spaghetti at a local pub (note to shareholders: actually, it went on personal Visa bills). The Cosmos pile into their rented Ford Excursion, a vehicle so large it came with its own Congressman, and drops off injured goalkeeper J.C. at Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara, where he got a cast on his hand and stocked up on painkillers for the rest of the squad.

    33973_1.jpg33973_6.jpgThe next day, the Cosmos traveled to Oakland where they met in a match that featured an 8-foot 11-inch ex-professional player.33973_2.jpgTune in tomorrow for the full report.

    — Phil "Balls" Harvey, Sports Editor, Light Reading

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