Stegman’s Old Boys arrived at the Bavarian Soccer Club in Milwaukee with a point to prove.
“These are the six-time national champions” said club Chairman Dan Hoedeman “and we were playing on their home park, it was no surprise they they brought some NPSL guys and the spine of the Majors squad. We wanted to do well, to prove that we have another gear.”
The Blues, who have performed at their best against quality opposition, played a strong game against the Milwaukee side. It was a Stegman’s side that featured Jon Scott, back from his loan move to Nashville, Nick Sindt and Derric Johnson from the MRSL Sunday team and Mike Geak and Trevor Stemm from the MRSL Monday team.
Stout, organized defending, rapacious tackling in the midfield and pacy counter-attacks were the order of the day.
“We were playing away and against a strong team” said former Bavarian and now Blues captain Jon Bisswurm “so we were more defensive than we usually are. And credit to Bavarians, those guys can play ball.”
Ceding possession, the Blues focused in the first half on being hard to break down. When they won the ball, they looked to the speedy wingers or the big men on top.
While it sounds a bit Hodgson-esque, good work from Sean Webb and Mike Logan meant that when the ball was on the deck there were players with the quality to do something with it. And with guys with the size and power of Tommy McCarthy, it was easy to hold the ball up and bring others into play.
While the first half was won in terms of possession by the Bavarians, it was Stegman’s who almost scored first.
McCarthy was played in by an incisive ball from Peichel and, with only the goalkeeper to beat and in perfect position, he managed only to fire wide.Stegman’s, who were unsettled by the short diagonals that Bavarians played, were eventually undone, though not before two impressive saves by Brandon Overlie and the first half of an irrepressible 90 minutes Man of the Match performance from former Bavarian Nathan Toldt at the heart of the defense.
But it was the diagonal that beat the Blues, a floated ball eluding Chris Sturdy and falling to an opposition forward who made no mistake.
“It was a good first half” said Al Vo after the game “we had showed well and, with some confidence after that half, we really came to play.”
Stegman’s began to even possession behind the hard tackling of Dan Hoedeman and Daniel Warner, who disrupted the Bavarians attack like a set of panthers loosed on a tea party. A fairly even opening to the half exploded into interest as the seconds ticked down.
First, Warner connected on a lovely corner kick with a fierce header that was somehow scrambled off the line.
“The goalkeeper was beaten” said Hoedeman “and considering their goalkeeper played at mighty Brighton & Hove Albion and is outrageously tall, that alone should have caused the goal. But somehow they clawed it out.”
On the other end, Bavarians broke free from the defense and, one-on-one with replacement goalkeeper Trevor Stemm, the opposition forward had the most straightforward of chances. His shot, powerful and on-target, met its equal in Stemm who batted it away with a fingertip save.
With ten minutes remaining, Warner was again the instigator.
Bisswurm played a free kick deep to the back post and Warner found a way between defenders to head it across the goal. With Sebastian Castro-Malaspina marauding forward, it looked like a certain goal but for the ball to take an awkward bounce slightly behind the man from New Jersey. Off balance, he could only fire his shot over the bar.
“I tried to do it for Boner, but it was hard” said Castro-Malaspina “it was a difficult angle to hit it, so I wasn’t able to stroke it like I usually do. No happy ending.”“A draw would have been fair, but it wasn’t to be” said Bisswurm. “Still, we played well and had fun and now we’re off to Germanfest.”
“Milwaukee, I am in you” said Derric Johnson. “Let’s make this German drinking party happen.”