What always promised to be a physical game certainly lived up to its billing. Warlocks, cynical and whiney in a way reminiscent of Portugal in the 2006 World Cup, looked to set the tone with heavy early challenges. The Old Boys, always willing to get stuck in, answered back with relish and the die was cast.
An early period of pressure by the away side resulted in the first real chance of the game, but goalkeeper Justin Dzelzkalns was off of his line quickly to clear.
Despite continued attempts to play the long ball over the top, the Old Boys defense was never going to be flustered in the aerial battle and the game turned for the boys in blue. With Jon Bisswurm and Daniel Erickson owning the midfield, the Old Boys pressure began show. However, despite the best efforts of forwards Nick Sindt and Ali Ahmed and being camped in the opposition half the SOB’s struggled to find an inroad in the final third – though it took some doing, with Warlocks athletically clearing an effort from Dan Hoedeman off the line.
It fell to Jon Scott, attacking from the right wing, to carve out the first opening. Cleverly released by Bisswurm, he burst into the box. Only the most shocking of tackles from behind halted his progress, but it was in the box and nowhere near the ball so the referee had no choice but to point to the spot.
Erickson stepped up and finished with aplomb.
It was sweet music to shut up the opposition whining, if only for a few seconds. The goal was no more than the Old Boys deserved, and as the half wore on Warlocks looked unlikely to forge an opening as their aerial attack was continually repulsed with ease by the centerback pairing of Hoedeman and Savitt.
Foreshadowing of difficulty arrived on the half hour as Savitt was forced to limp off with a re-aggravation of his hamstring injury. The deck was reshuffled, with Mark Schmitt moving over to the center of defense and Gary Erzberger taking up the left back spot. The defense remained solid until disaster struck with a mere five minutes remaining in the half.
A Warlocks attack down the left resulted in a cross played to the middle. Dzelzkalns came for the ball, but bobbled it. In a moment of madness, a surprised Hoedeman, rushing to cover, handled in the box. There was no argument. It was a penalty, and the penalty was dispatched with ease as Rymer sent Dzelzkalns the wrong way. 1-1 going into the half with Old Boys ruing another defensive mistake costing the dearly.
Things did not get better immediately after the re-start. Just minutes after the opening of the half, Matt Gorrell was caught with the ball and dispossessed. Warlocks made no mistake, finishing with ease to make it 1-2. It was harsh justice for Gorrell, who had had hardly set a foot wrong in the preceeding 50 minutes.
Despite the goal, Old Boys remained the better team. And, despite their lead, Warlocks remained an embarrassingly dirty team. Aleksey Polukeyev was blown up by Ahlgren down the right touchline, the Warlocks defender not showing the slightest interest in winning the ball. He was soon dealt with, and finished the game hobbling, as the Old Boys refused to back down. But yet it continued, bad foul after bad foul inflicted on the Old Boys and a referee completely out of sorts and reduced to handing out yellow cards willy-nilly in the vain hope that it would bring order to the proceedings.
Robbie Peichel began to exert his influence from the right back spot, keying the Old Boys attack. And it was a ball from Peichel, laid off to by Sindt, that eventually found Brandon Overlie in the area. He made no mistake from close range, bundling home with his left clavicle despite repeated hacks from the opposition defense.
A roar from the home support seemed to buoy the SOB’s even more and they didn’t leave the final third for the last 15 minutes of the match. Yet, despite their overwhelming superiority, they were unable to find the back of the net.
“It was disappointing to draw when we were clearly the better team,” said Manager Jon Bisswurm, “but I was proud of the way this team fought for each other and didn’t accept the loss. We showed what we were made of today.”
General Manager Sindt weighed in, “we have a team that won’t back down. Whether it’s when matched against a dirty opponent, or coming back from a goal down or stepping up to bring a table full of condiments to the post-game barbecue, there is not a man on this team that will shirk a challenge. It’s beautiful.”
“I thought I was going to be knocked out for the second game running,” said forward Brandon Overlie of his goal, “the Cantona-esque kung-fu kick I received while scoring blasted me into the net. Of course, while in the back of the net I was reunited with the ball I had just put there, so I got up, told the defender to suck it and walked back to the center circle.”
It was a tough game, but one from with Stegman’s Old Boys emerged with credit. And a creditable draw.
Stegman’s Old Boys (4-4-2): Dzlezkalns, Gorrell, Hoedeman, Savitt, Peichel, Schmitt, Bisswurm, D Erickson, Scott, Ahmed, Sindt
Subs: Horstman, Tesch, Overlie, Haueter, Larson, Polukeyev, Erzberger