“It was a sensational performance.”
Jon Bisswurm, the Stegman’s Old Boys manager, was all smiles and superlatives after the club’s first match in the MASL, a 6-1 thumping of Hastings FC in Hastings. As the gaffer relaxed afterward, Surly Furious in hand, he was able to reflect on the game. “We didn’t really know what to expect, since it’s a new league and all, but our preparation has been thorough, the FIFA Lab has divined the right tactical approach, and we really showed that we can play ball. 6-1. Fantastic.”
It was all one-way traffic from the kickoff, with Tommy McCarthy and Derek Thomas throttling the center of the midfield.
Possession was the game plan and it was executed with aplomb, the Blues calm and assured on the ball and using it well. It wasn’t all short passes either, with Dan Hoedeman in particular launching diagonal Hollywood balls to the wings from the fullback position.
And it was from the wings that the first goal was created. Both Paul Diegnau and David Maier were terrorizing the Hastings defense, and when Maier broke free again on the right and laid it off to the marauding Al Vo, Vo’s cross was turned into the net by a despondent Hastings defender.
“That first goal was important” said Bisswurm “their goalkeeper was making save after save, flying from side to side like a puppet on a string, so to beat him when we did helped to build our confidence.”
Vo’s crossing was dangerous throughout, particularly on corners.
From a corner the second goal was scored. Vo delivered the ball across the face of the goal and it just eluded Thomas at the back post before falling to Michael Logan. Logan took a touch, looked up, clearly fancied it, and struck a phenomenal dipping shot on the half-volley. Top corner.
He had turned around, arm in the air in celebration, the minute he struck the ball.
Still the Old Boys pressed on. McCarthy fired inches wide with a pile-driver of a shot from 20 yards. Sean Webb had a shot clawed away by another impressive save.
But the third goal was always on the cards. A slick passing move that started with center back Nathan Toldt and continued for ten passes before Rob Peichel knocked a short ball to Webb just yards in front of goal. Webb made no mistake. Though there were calls for offsides, the flag stayed down.
“Things began to get a bit rushed then” said McCarthy afterward “and that punished us. I was yelling at the lads, but it was either my accent or my slang because they kept looking at me funny when I talked, like they didn’t know what ‘Jax’ was or why I was saying ‘[expletive], [expletive]’. I just wanted them to take their time with the ball.”
It was a mixture of rushing in possession and a swampy mess of a pitch that allowed Hastings to break free through the middle after picking up on a poor back-pass. The shot was quality, with Brandon Overlie left stranded, but it was very much against the run of play.
“We went in at halftime a little stung by that goal” said Overlie “but at least the dive for the shot gave me a chance to move around. I was getting a little cold.”
It was business as usual in the second half, Derek Thomas burying a header from another quality corner delivery from Al Vo to make it 4-1.
And then a point of interest amidst the domination. Vo was fouled along the sideline and, after the foul, got a sneaky kick and returned the kick with a push. The Hastings player fell into the Old Boys sideline, hitting Tyler Woodward on the way. For some reason, after staggering to his feet he turned around and put Woodward in a headlock.
“Who starts a fight in the middle of the opponent’s bench?” asked Hoedeman (rhetorically, since obviously that guy did).
In the blink of an eye, the assailant was on the ground getting his face rubbed in the mud by assorted SOBs (with Al Vo careful to sit on his legs, as he told reporters continually after the fact). With the Old Boys quick to defend their player and Robbie Peichel headlining the fracas, it is surprising that there was no blood.
Hoedeman continued, “the fastest I ran the whole game was across the pitch to get to the scrum, but when I got there it was all calmed down and everyone seemed a bit bemused. I mean, nobody from the Hastings team came over to help their teammate.”
The headlock move warranted only a yellow card, the referee using the innovative “it’s a wet field” defense for violent conduct, but at that point neither team really had the heart for more. Hastings was beaten, and the Old Boys had some stats to pad.
Pad them they did. Logan scored his second with another bullet to the top corner and David Maier scored the sixth after embarking on a mazy run that rumor has it broke six ankles on the way to a simple side-footed finish.
“It could have been more” said Bisswurm “all credit to their goalkeeper for an excellent display and to Meg McCarthy for not knifing that dude who head locked Tyler.”
In typical over-the-top fashion, Stegman’s Old Boys have announced their arrival in the MASL.
Stegman’s Old Boys (4-4-2): Overlie, Hoedeman, Castro-Malaspina, Toldt, Vo, Diegnau, McCarthy, Thomas, Maier, Webb, Logan
Subs: Woodward, Peichel, Bisswurm