A hot and humid matchday seven saw a shorthanded Old Boys squad traveling to the northern suburbs to take on Team Awesome in a game that would decide the true owner of third place in the table. The core of the SOB formation was decimated as chairman Dan Hoedeman, fresh off marital nuptials, was missing from the gameday roster along with mountain man Ben Savitt, camping detail, and Dan Erickson, batting cleanup for the Minnesota Twins.
Keeping consistent with what worked in the previous match, a hard-fought 2-0 loss to the table-topping River Otters, captain Bisswurm was again anchoring the back line and organizing the defense, while the speedy Mark Schmitt and Jon Scott were deployed on the flanks.
From the opening kick, the Old Boys were up to their old tricks working the ball with crisp (well…as crisp as they could be in that unkempt hayfield), short passes and varying pressure high up the field. It was the varying of pressure from the big-little pairing of big Dave Tesch and gorgeous George Hanscom that created the first opportunity in the 7th minute. A long backpass by Awesome’s fullback was corralled by the keeper, who was able to take so much time with the ball he forgot where it came from. Scooping the ball up with his hands led to an indirect free-kick just inside the box, one of the only good refereeing calls made all game. With SOBs flooding into the box, F/M Nick Sindt casually strolled from the corner of the box to the back post with nary an opposing defender noticing. Bisswurm delicately chipped the ball over the scrum right onto Sindt’s foot and physics did the rest. “I’d like to tell you that the captain knew where I’d be through some teammate telepathy, but really I was just so wide open it would’ve been a crime for us to foul that one up,” said Sindt. Bisswurm added, “To be honest with you, it was great to get on the scoreboard early in the match, but the real win is that Nick’s wife will finally let him sleep in the bed tonight.”
With a goal in their pocket, the SOBs continued to hold possession and patiently tried to pick apart the Awesome defense. Their insistence was rewarded again 10 minutes later. This time a mazy run by Jon Scott lead to shot by Tesch, which was blocked well by the Awesome centerback, and fortunately it fell to Hanscom who was able to slam home past the scrambling keeper and defenders. The second goal seemed to awaken Team Awesome, who had up to this point shown brief flashes of danger with their pace but couldn’t get a shot near the target. Using their own speedsters on the flanks, Team Awesome caught the SOBs flat in the middle of the field creating half-chance after half-chance as the first half wound down. With mere seconds to go before the half-time whistle the SOBs finally caved, the Team Awesome goal came on a 45 yard cross into the box that was headed back across goal to an onrushing attacker.
The manager’s half-time talk focused on getting fresh legs on the field, staying alert and organized, and putting the game to bed by finishing the opportunities.
The first 10 minutes of the second half saw the Old Boys shake off some of their bad habits and weather the Awesome storm, strangling any and all long range shots and poorly timed crosses. Though this isn’t to say that there weren’t any heart-in-throat moments as a minority of the shots were blazed only inches wide and high. A shrewd tactical personnel adjustment by GM Sindt in the 55th minute saw some fresh legs brought in for the goalscorer Sindt who was hobbling on a bad knee. Bryan Larson’s introduction into the game gave the Old Boys more attacking verve on the right hand side, completely opening up the middle of the park for the youngster Cole Erickson to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
Larson seemed to be inspired by Donovan’s goal against Slovenia only two days prior, taking everyone and anyone on down his flank and getting off a few sharp angled shots that forced the Awesome keeper into a few saves as well as some dangerous crosses creating some golden opportunities for the Old Boys. The pressure finally paid off as Larson laid a nice backpass off to Erickson who hit a screamer that ripped a hole in the side netting to make it 3-1 SOBs. In the 80th minute, with victory seemingly assured, Matt Gorrell stayed high after a failed corner kick to pressure the fullback leading to a turnover. Gorrell then played Tesch into the box for a Michael Bradley inspired toe-poke half-volley. The scoreboard read 4-1 and the Old Boys waltzed their way to their post game beverages.
“In this league this year you get maybe two chances to score a game…I took my chance and made it my bitch.” said Tesch. The Manager added, “It was a good win for us today, we built on our solid outing from last week, except this time we put a few of the chances away and we came out on top.”
The SOBs next match comes on Sunday June 27th at Stadio Arlington-Arkwright at 6:30pm against St. Paul Celtics. It should be nothing short of a thriller as the Old Boys look to avenge one of their worst performances of the season.
Stegman’s Old Boys (4-4-2): Horstman, Erzberger, Gorrell, Bisswurm, Schmitt, Peichel, Reynolds, Sindt, Scott, Hanscom, Tesch
Subs: Campbell, Meiser, Larson, Overlie, C. Erickson, Poleykev