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Paracleats down Shoots and Leaves in battle of Heaven and Earth

By Kim Bauser ’09 M.Div.

SoccerHeaven triumphed over earth for the second year in a row on Nov. 16 when Yale Divinity School’s stellar soccer team, The Paracleats, cut down Shoots and Leaves, representing the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, in the finals of the Yale Graduate & Professional Schools intramural soccer tournament.  The score was 2-0.

Having lost only a few players after the 2007-08 season, the Paracleats (from the Johannine epithet of the Holy Ghost, paraclete, traditionally translated as “comforter”) benefited all the more from a strong recruiting year, adding both depth and talent to the team.

Both teams came to the match up with undefeated records. Divinity had three shutouts to its credit in the regular season and had just added a confidence-building 6-1 victory in the semi-finals against the Department of Mathematics’s Fluffy the week before. Though Forestry claimed a Goliath-like advantage, having allowed not a single goal all season, the ’Cleats would take aim with two keenly aimed shots on goal, just as the young David hurled a smooth stone to slay the Philistine giant.

Rainy weekend weather left the fields near the Yale Bowl soggy with mud, and the center circle had standing water worthy of Moses’s attention. The sloppy state of the field, nevertheless, proved little hindrance to either team.

Before the game began, the ’Cleats and their few but faithful fans dotted the sideline, donning orange jerseys and high spirits, underneath layers of sweats and jackets on account of a sudden downtick in temperature. They were neither distracted nor disheartened by the team in green’s small percussion ensemble during warm-ups; returning player Justin Haaheim ’10 M.Div. only lamented not having packed his djembe with his socks and shin guards.

Tensions ran high as the whistle blew, and the Paracleats surged early and often against a strong Forestry defense. After a hard-fought half hour and a number of shots on the green goal, however, the score remained tied 0-0 at the half.

Yet, despite their opponents’ name, there was no comfort for the foresters, as the ’Cleats came back with even greater intensity in the second half. Neither the dropping temperature nor the dropping sun could lower the Paracleats’ spirits after Jon Meyer ’07 M.A.R. scored the first goal of the game with an assist by Andrew Litschi ’09 M.A.R. As the hour grew late, the team’s eschatological moment grew imminent, and NT professor Jeremy Hultin’s assist to team captain Bethany Davidson ’10 M.Div., M.S.W. would seal the Shoots and Leaves’ fate.

With the blow of the final whistle, the Paracleats walked off the field, basking in the divine providence of another championship title. Having allowed not a single Forestry goal in this final game, they had given a whole new meaning to the phrase emblazoned on the socks of Micah Luce ’07 M.A.R., ’08 S.T.M.: “Jesus saves.”

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