Villanova, PA – Nova Grill on the campus of Villanova University hosted a private party for members of the Greek-American community of Philadelphia. The occasion was the World Cup and featured team Greece against Costa Rica. While Costa Rica led 1-0, through the first half, fans continued to cheer and hope for Greece to somehow pull off another miracle and they did. In the 91st minute of the match Greece recovered and scored, sending the game to overtime play.
Ecstatic fans raised their arms and drinks as they high-fived each other. With the restaurant packed, the atmosphere had now changed. There was a sense of belief that the Greeks could win, especially since Costa Rica was playing a man down in overtime. But the Greeks looked tired and sluggish. The Brazilian heat hat worn them down and team Greece could not score on the numerous opportunities throughout the second half and overtime where they had the man advantage.
Fans preyed that there would not be an overtime shoot out, but the Gods would not hear their calls. The Philly Greek fans could barely sit through the end of the overtime match. They did not want a shoot with Costa Rica. Many of them went outside to catch a smoke and argue about our inability to finish after the initial finish of the game. They discussed the substitutions they thought should have been made, but confidently went back in to watch the 30 overtime portion of the game. Again many Greek fans returned outside Nova Grill for a cigarette break, while others sat inside. Now having missed the opportunity to put Costa Rica away, the atmosphere in the restaurant again changed. Concerned about how worn out the Greeks were, many stood while others looked on with disbelief.
One by one the Greek and Costa Rican teams exchanges the penalty kick faze of overtime, scoring for their teams. All first 7 penalties were scored, till Theofanis Gekas of Greece stepped up and missed his chance. Screeching chairs and hand waving by the Greek fans were expected. They began yelling out in disappointment and many left. Long faces looked on, as each person tried to summarize the team’s effort or lack there of.
For team Greece, the journey led them to the final 16 teams in the world and an odds of winning rating of 150-1. A great ride for our small country and we are very grateful for the experience. As fans left Nova Grill, many were left talking about playing as poorly as we did and losing to a team we were much better than. It certainly left all of us wondering about this team’s inability to finish and what might of been if we had.