The home side, who played with only nine men throughout in one of those bush league scenarios that typically plagues other leagues, packed in seven men who rarely wandered more than twenty yards from their own goal and then played booming long balls over the top. Hard to fault them. The temperature was pushing near 100 on the field.
It was a strange game. The Blues kept the ball well, probed from every angle and were able to break through early, David Maier finishing to put the visitors up. But the heat made everything very, very slow.
The second half remained at half pace until St Paul, winning a corner from a booming punt from the goalie, managed to sneak a shot into the goal directly from the corner.
“That was tough on Brandon, who slipped” said Jon Bisswurm after the match “and anyway it happened to David Seaman before and he managed to live it down.”
The urgency increased, with Sean Webb spearheading efforts in a Man of the Match performance.
Jon Bisswurm, returned to the team after missing four games, Al Vo, Mike Logan and Rob Peichel were also impressive and did most of the hard running, especially after the indomitable Paul Diegnau was felled with an elbow and walked off suffering from a concussion.
It was from Al Vo that the first goal was scored, the diminutive fullback delivering a beautiful ball that Webb just flicked into the corner.
It’s hard to put your heart in celebrating a goal against a nine man team, but it was a goal of such precision that it really deserved more. A truly delightful goal.
The muted celebrations were barely over when FC St Paul, with their second shot of the match, managed to score. With a shot from half field. From the kick-off. It was unbelievable stuff.
“I hate to say it, but Nayim lobbed Seaman from the halfway line too” said Bisswurm “and that guy is half the goalkeeper than Brandon is, not just because of that ridiculous ponytail.”
Stung, the Old Boys immediately went on the attack.
Vo and Logan were tormenting the opposition with their pace and trickery, and the winner was set up by Logan. The aerodynamic midfielder beat his man on the dribble and found Webb lurking. Webb, who was a whirling dervish of energy and intent, made no mistake and buried his second into the side netting. Unfortunately, he rolled his ankle and is day-to-day. It was tough on the striker, who almost single-handedly dragged the Old Boys to victory.
“It would be stupid to lose to a team with nine guys” Webb said afterward.
“Not our best performance” said Chairman Dan Hoedeman “but again, we found a way to win ugly in the league. Very ugly. Brutally ugly. But three points and three points and, for a first-year team, we don’t feel bad about being in fourth place with two games in hand. Not bad at all.”
The next few games are going to be challenging for Stegman’s as they run through the top five sides, but confidence is high.
“We know that we can play well” said Bisswurm “the FIFA Lab shows we have a way to win, and it can’t be that hot every game.”
Stegman’s Old Boys (4-4-2): Overlie, Hoedeman, Toldt, Castro-Malaspina, Woodward, Maier, Bisswurm, Warner, Diegnau, Webb, Thomas
Subs: Hedstrom, Vo, Peichel, Logan