It was never going to be easy. A competitive opener against the First Division champions followed by a match-up against a First Division stalwart would have been daunting for the typical new team, but not for this new team.
Driven by a midfield engine room of Sebastian Castro-Malaspina, Al Vo and Lance Farrell, and supported by defensive lynchpins Gary Erzberger and Derric Johnson, the Other Boys turned expectations on their heads in the opening game, going toe-to-toe with Blast and even carving the first clear opportunity, with Al Vo powering a show off of the crossbar. Blast were increasingly dangerous as the game wore on, and hit the crossbar themselves, but the Other Boys were defiant and the scores were level at the half.
Alex Haueter remained a creative force on the wings, but with 20 minutes gone in the half Blast found their breakthrough with a well-worked goal.
The Other Boys were stunned, but their spirit was not broken. They went searching for the equalizer, but Blast made it hard going, always looking dangerous when they won back the ball. And it was from a counter-attack that Blast scored again, an own goal dooming the Other Boys to a 2 – 0 loss.
The second game, against a powerful Valencia team showcased the Other Boys’ resilience but perhaps less their defensive solidity.
A 4 – 0 loss was punctuated by a few moments of near misses by the Old Boys attack, not the least when Lance Farrell banged a shot off of the outside of the far post after great work to get past his man and charge into the Valencia area. It just wasn’t their day.
But their offensive duck would not stay unbroken from long. Matching up against Second Division powerhouse Dynamo, the Other Boys went end-to-end in a wild game. A soft goal pegged them back before Vo fed Farrell to score the first ever Other Boys goal and level scores. A second Dynamo goal, quickly followed-up by an own goal that deflected off of Derric Johnson and in off of Ryan Horstman’s hands put the Other Boys down again before Farrell almost scored a second time, his lofted chip somehow kept out of the goal by the Dynamo goalkeeper.
Ryan Horstman was called into action on the other side, pulling off the save of the tournament with a full-stretch dive to his left. It was down to the other end where Al Vo blasted home to narrow the scores. Despite pushing forward in numbers, the Other Boys were not able to level.
Still, it was a promising opening against teams of high quality and the Other Boys are looking good for the season ahead.
“It was a bit tough for us” said team captain Gary Erzberger “the first time playing together and missing some key players like Dave Tesch, last season’s top scorer, and Nathan Crowe, a strong defensive midfielder. Not that it wasn’t promising, especially our match against Blast and the good offensive work against Dynamo. It’s just that we have some more guns than we brought to bear on Saturday and when those are in action we’ll be close to unstoppable. Says this observer.”