There was a healthy dollop of irony in Stegman’s Old Boys 1-0 win over MASL foe Team Pellicano in that the Surly Brewing-sponsored home side were fitter and stronger than the Pellicao Endurance Training-sponsored visitors. That was critical, as it was a barnstorming second half performance by the Blues that swept away Pellicano.
The gusty wins and light rain made the Woodshed pitch a slick and slippery surface, which disrupted the cultured short passing approach favored by Stegman’s.
“We like to keep the ball and knock it around a bit” said Vice Captain David Maier “but with the ball skipping around that just wasn’t happening. Luckily, and unlike some teams, we have a Plan B.”
Both sides were playing very direct, but the height advantage enjoyed by the Old Boys meant that the balance of play was never even. With Nathan Toldt, Travis Pennings, Jake Keeler and Dan Hoedeman dominating the aerial battle, Pellicano were restricted to irregular and unthreatening forays into the offensive end.
“They played to my strengths” said Hoedeman after the game “and I appreciated that. Very charitable. I wouldn’t mind playing them again.”
Tommy McCarthy was back in the side after missing last game with shin splits, and the big Englishman combined well with Sebastian Castro-Malaspina to shield the defense and, as the game went on, to begin to play the ball on the ground and stretch the opposition. Castro-Malaspina created an early chance when his header from an Al Vo corner rebounded to Hoedeman. Hoedeman found himself space to shoot after intercepting an errant pass and driving on net, but fired wide. And McCarthy hit a menacing shot from distance that flew over.
The chances were going all one way, but hadn’t been particularly clear cut with the Pellicano defense quick in the tackle and the referee decidedly not interested in calling a foul (or listening to his linesman).
If the second half petered out into waywardness, the second half was a different story entirely.
The fullbacks, Al Vo and George Hanscom, were imperious and drove the team forward with their intelligent use of the ball. Their efforts freed the wingers, with Maier looking particularly lethal.
Maier dominated his marker time and again, and with 15 minutes gone and the Blues in the ascendancy he latched onto a lovely cross-field ball from Hanscom, embarrassed his defender with his acceleration and trickery and knocked the ball across the face of goal for the onrushing Dan Hedstrom. Hedstrom, unluckily, was not able to bury the chance.
Luke Clayton began to find the rhythm of the game as well, a harrying run creating space for a layoff to Castro-Malaspina who fired wide.
Vo sent another picture perfect corner into the box and Hoedeman was again present. Unfortunately, he powered his header directly at the goalkeeper.
Sean Webb was working hard behind the forward line, dropping into space and dictating play. He was finding shooting opportunities as well, and had forced Pellicano’s goalkeeper, who was impressive throughout, into a number of fine saves. But he was not to be denied.
Picking up the ball on the left, Webb moved forward with intent and ripped a cross-shot into the goal by way of the inside post.
The goalkeeper was rooted to the spot. Not Webb. The Floridian hit man was off like a hare, shirt flipped over his head and arms out, screaming in delight at what was an excellent – and critical – goal. It was a worthy celebration and joins the pantheon of great SOB goal celebrations.
Pellicano had been out-thought, out-run, out-musceled and, finally, out-scored.
“It was no less than what we deserved” said Vo. “At halftime, we collectively decided that we weren’t going to settle for a draw. You could see the change, we were out of the blocks quick and stayed on the front foot.”
“Winning is so much more fun” said McCarthy. “Chelsea nicked a goal and won, Stegman’s nicked a goal and won…this has been a smashing weekend. I’m going to track down some Guinness.”
General Manager Nick Sindt, who was watching from the stands, agreed “it’s a fantastic feeling to grab the three points. We deserved it, sure, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy it. An 80th minute winner after a buccaneering performance and a case full of Surly? If you can’t enjoy that then you clearly hate life and should be playing for BEEF United.”
“This just goes to show that teams don’t win games” said Hoedeman “teams that are named after dudes with resplendent mustaches win games.”
Stegman’s Old Boys (4-4-2): Overlie, Hoedeman, Pennings, Toldt, Vo, Woodward, McCarthy, Castro-Malaspina, Maier, Webb, Diegnau
Subs: Hedstrom, Peichel, Hanscom, Keeler, Clayton, Manning, Warner