Big match day, as teams are beginning to count points coming into the season’s home stretch. Weather forecasts during the week had called for inches of rain, and the low-lying grass pitch at Conway Park would quickly become unplayable if the storm delivered as expected. But the sky was clear on Saturday morning, and we assembled our battered and bruised squad for a shot at the division-leading Druids.
We quickly settled into a perimeter-oriented attack, pushing the ball through markers Tim and Hoot to wingers Logan and Armand. Several early chances materialized this way, with the lads getting to the endline and serving across the box. Around the tenth minute, Armand fed Hoot on an overlapping run down the right flank, and Hoot’s long service snuck through the beleaguered Druid back line to find Adam Palencia free on the back post. Adam calmly deposited it in the back of the onion bag for an early 1-0 lead. [Edit: Adam later revealed that the ball had actually crossed the line before he was able to reach it, thus making it an own goal credited against a Druid defender who mis-cleared the ball]
Only a few minutes later, Joe gained control at the top of the box and struck with a wicked right foot from fifteen yards, beating the Druid keeper on his far post. Two goals up on the league leaders with only about 20 minutes gone – we’ll take it, even if the tallies came with a man (or three) advantage.
Druid reinforcements were arriving, and the flow of the match quickly balanced out. Our defense was turned once or twice, but solid hustle from Tim, Ye and James and good range from Dave Doucette kept any real threats from materializing. Palencia was dropped in the box (sans penalty call) and reopened some old stitches on his head, resulting in a stealth run to the local hospital. We absorbed a bit of pressure to finish the half, but brought our 2-nil lead into the locker room.
We got some reinforcement of our own in the form of Stu, who teamed with Joe up top to terrorize the Druid back line. The two strikers were able to carve through the defense nearly at will, but we weren’t able to convert. Around the sixty-fifth minute, a long clearance snuck through our defense and turned us. In the resulting confusion, our opponents got away with a rather sloppy inside-outside combination and slipped past us for a goal.
The goal served to refocus us, and the BCS boys began winning 50-50 challenges all over the park. Steve Irwin, Steve Houdlette and Andrew Macurdy re-established our rhythm through the midfield, resulting in some creative play. Both sides generated a couple more chances, but nothing of major substance. When the referee blew the final whistle, we had knocked off the number one side in Division 4, a team that had torched us earlier in the campaign. Well done XI!