It was a glorious night for soccer at the Woodshed; temps in the high 60s, a little bit of drizzle, and a playoff berth on the line for the good guys in stripes. With their two primary competitors facing off on the last day of the season, only a victory would guarantee the SOBs passage into the playoffs; a draw would put their fate in the hands of others.
Though the SOBs are one of the cuddliest and most lovable teams in the league, many were hoping the day’s opposition, Sound & Fury, would play the spoiler and bring a premature end to the season for the handsomest team in all the land.
However, today was to belong to the Old Boys.
As with every game since the transfer deadline brought new signings, the SOBs started off very brightly, utilizing their speed up top and on the flanks to carve open chances within the first few minutes. On the stroke of five minutes Luke Clayton collected near the center circle, played the ball to Graham Campbell on the left, and then turned and ran for the back post like a man possessed or a striker who hasn’t scored since the third game of the season.
Meanwhile on the left flank…super hero Graham Campbell donned his Flash outfit and blazed past two or three defenders – it’s impossible to tell just how many – and sent a low, hard shot towards the back post, missing by inches.
Thankfully Clayton, the only other man on the field who could keep up with Campbell, was there waiting, yawning, tapping his watch, and eventually tapping the ball into the net.
The goal seemed to galvanize Sound & Fury who began launching a series of attacks into the heart of the Old Boy defense. Their wily tactics, late runs by their center midfielders, and the wet surface flummoxed the Blues rear-guard but thankfully Bryan Larson was prepared and made some jaw-dropping saves to keep the sheets clean. After one such save, Larson punted the ball up towards the midfield line where Ryan Haeg received and promptly sent Luke Clayton away on goal.
With one tally already to his name and his confidence restored, Clayton took his chance with all of the aplomb you’d expect of a world-class striker. Fifteen minutes into the game, two goals to the good, and a raucous home crowd lulled the Old Boys into a false sense of security which Sound & Fury promptly took advantage of.
Sound & Fury’s high pressure offense turned the game into a very enjoyable back-and-forth affair, at least for the neutral observer as neither manager will be happy with the way their teams defended. While the defenses of both sides wilted, both goalkeepers absolutely stood on their heads making acrobatic save after acrobatic save.
On 35 minutes Dave Tesch all but sealed the game as a contest.
Again it was the masterful Haeg who sent a forward in alone with a scything through-ball, this time instead of the swift Clayton it was one of the SOB big men in Dave Tesch.
Tesch, cool as the other side of the pillow, dinked a cheeky outside of the right foot effort off of the post and in past the onrushing keeper. The half-time whistle called a halt to proceedings and Manager Sindt tried to slow the track meet down with a short-passing, possession game. When the second half resumed, the short-passing possession game was not to be as some early high-pressure by Alex Haueter and Mike Ozruh forced a turnover on the outside edge of the box.
Haueter then sent a knuckling, pile-driver of a shot towards the far upper 90; replays show that it dipped just in time to kiss the underside of the cross bar, but witnesses swear there was an explosion of rainbows and unicorns that helped the ball over the outstretched fingertips of the S&F keeper.
With four deposited into the back of the net, it appeared that it was just going to be one of those days for the Blues where every goal bound shot was going in and everyone wanted a piece of the stats column.
Haeg, playing like a man possessed streaked down the right-hand side of the field, fed the other SOB big man Ilijas Zimic who’s first attempt was blocked by two defenders, but his second bite of the cherry resulted in the fifth goal of the day. Not long after John Carney, playing his final game of the season, was put through by Haeg and had eyes only for goal. The resulting break-away and goal led to a change in formation that saw Mike Ozruh, Luke Clayton, and Graham Campbell deployed on the back line with Steve Pomeroy and SOB Original Matt Gorrell untethered from their defensive responsibilities.
The new-look backline was shaky at first, allowing a Sound & Fury attacker clean through on goal his shot powerful enough to somehow get through Larson’s valiant save. The somewhat flukey own goal prompted the Gorrell and Pomeroy partnership to push on for more joy. Pomeroy’s rocket shot forcing a huge rebound from the S&F keeper that Thomas Larson smashed home. 10 minutes from time Gorrell bagged his second of the season after being played into the box wonderfully by Pomeroy.
After the match, Sindt was in a pensive mood: “When the ref finally blew for full time, we were thrilled that we secured our play-off spot on our own. However, we weren’t going to carry on about it. Sound & Fury are a good side and they play the game in the right way – they’re not assholes like some of the guys we play against. I tried calling off the dogs but it’s even more of a dick move to not shoot when clean through on goal, so we ended up unintentionally padding our Goals For stats for the season.”
Man of the Match: Ryan Haeg with four assists
Starting XI: B. Larson, Johnson, Pomeroy, Savitt, Gorrell, Haeg, Shanafelt, Farrell, Campbell, Clayton, Ozruh
Subs: Sindt, T. Larson, Davies, Carney, Haueter, Zimic, Tesch