With the season winding down, Stegman’s Old Boys needed only one draw from their last two matches to clinch third place in the table.
This was the third game in a stretch of four games in eight days for the Blues and, having just returned from Milwaukee only two days before, they could perhaps be forgiven for a very flat start to the game.
Barons came out firing and immediately tested a Stegman’s defense that was missing stalwart Nathan Toldt. Admirably marshaled by Sebastian Castro-Malaspina and backed up by Brandon Overlie, Barons were not able to make anything of their early period in the ascendance. In fact, after the first ten or fifteen minutes, the home side was played off the park.
The Old Boys slowly eased into the game.
Daniel Warner had the best chance, hitting the corner of the woodwork after flicking on Dan Hedstrom’s delivery from a corner kick.
Jon Bisswurm also had a go, nicking the top side of the crossbar with a long-range effort.
From a corner, Dan Hoedeman guided a header just wide of the far post.
The forwards were hard working and willing, with Al Vo in particular looking dangerous, but the Barons defense and an extremely impressive display of goalkeeping kept the Blues at bay.
With control of the midfield established, the Old Boys began to run rampant. Sean Webb and Dan Hedstrom were dangerous down the middle, with Mike Logan and Al Vo popping up to wreck havoc in the opposition backline.
Vo was the creator for the goal. Picking up the half-clearance of a corner kick, Vo delivered an inch-perfect cross onto the head of the diving Hoedeman. The big Dutch dome connected well with the ball, but somehow the Barons goalkeeper pulled out the save.
“It was like Gordon Banks against Pele” said Hoedeman afterward “he dove backward and to the side to claw the shot out of the goal.”
Luckily, Mike Logan was there. Despite an awkward bounce, the winger prodded the ball home with his left to give the Blues the lead.
The Old Boys attacks continued, with Jake Keeler using his pace to make mincemeat of the opposition fullback and key the attack. From a Keeler foray down the right, the ball was fed to Sean Webb who spun it wide to Vo. Vo’s cross was deflected and the Barons goalkeeper came out to play the ball, not expecting Hedstrom to jump in front of him and steal the ball.
The goalkeeper had no choice but to foul and the referee had no choice but to point to the spot.
Sean Webb stepped up and converted and it was 2-0 to the good with 12 minutes remaining.
Two goal leads have been dangerous for the Old Boys this season, and so it was to prove this game. A misplayed ball at the back let in a Barons attacker and, though Overlie made a fine save to deny the first shot, Barons were able to convert and drag themselves back into the game.
But Stegman’s would stand strong in the last minutes. With Hoedeman a whirling dervish of defensive energy and Webb willing to pull out the party tricks to keep the ball and waste time and with Vo and Hedstrom willing runners up top, it was easy enough for the Blues to run out the clock and assure themselves of a third place finish.
“We can be proud of what we achieved this season” said Hoedeman “especially considering the injury crisis we ran into at the midpoint of the season. Two years ago we were a brand new club. Last season we were finishing second in the MRSL Second Division. This year we’re in the MASL finishing third, taking Shango to extra-time in the Wilson Cup and narrowly losing to Milwaukee Bavarians. That’s progress, d-bo.”
“V-Hawks are our last game” said the Manager Jon Bisswurm “we have pride to play for, so despite it being our fourth game in eight days and at the end of a long season, I think that you’ll see a motivated Stegman’s team on Thursday. Or a drunk team. Hard to tell with us sometimes.”
Stegman’s Old Boys (3-5-2): Overlie, Sturdy, Castro-Malaspina, Pennings, Thomas, Bisswurm, Hoedeman, Webb, Logan, Vo, Hedstrom
Subs: Keeler, Warner, Manning