A long way from home out in Lancaster, MA BCS XI found themselves without their starting keeper and only 3 of their regular defenders, one of whom was filling in between the sticks. Jordan got the chance to show his keeper skills while Vesper got to fill in as a right back. Most of the rest of the roster stayed the same. Though we did finally get our first look of the teams final signing Ramo. [more to come on all the new signings]
The game kicked off late because the fields schedule them so tightly that by the time we got to our scheduled 3pm kick off they were about 20 minutes shifted. The XI warmed up on an adjacent field and were ready to go the moment the earlier game ended. The game began with a nervy start and neither team keeping great possession or creating many chances. This continued on through the first half. BCS really couldn't find their rhythm and the chemistry seemed to be off, though luckily the same could be said about the home team who have been a strong, offensive threat in years past.
The second half began, still 0-0 but saw BCS trying a different formation with 3 strong center mids of Darren, Stu and Josh and Marco, Adam and Chika up top, and the same back 4 of Hoot, Nathan, Houdlette and Vesper. This formation seemed to help create more attack and there were more chances in and around the 18 yard box. However, the unfamiliarity with the formation left some holes, especially on the defensive end. Finally the attacking pressure paid off and Marco working his way towards the goal on the left side found himself taken down in the box, and Joe stepping up and cooly slotting home the penalty shot for a 1-0 lead.
The lead didn't last as long as hoped and through some of the confusion of changing formations and defensive miscues BCS gave away a free kick in a dangerous area just outside the box. A large wall guarded the front post, yet somehow the Ballers player placed the ball into the back of the net leveling the scores at 1-1, with about 15 minutes to go.
A little more than 5 minutes later, the referee made yet another poor decision of some phantom foul, giving Ballers another free kick from about the same angle as the first, but about 8 yards back. The referee caused further confusion with some allegations that he had incorrectly signaled for it to be an indirect kick, and instructing BCS players to move away from the ball. His actions suggested he was getting the kick set up with the wall having 10 yards etc, however the Ballers player decided to take the kick quickly during the confusion and placed it right into the same part of the net as the previous goal. The BCS sideline was furious about the call, and the manner of the goal just added insult to injury.
Referee decisions figured heavily in this match with some yellow cards not appearing and others coming as quite a shock. Ballers contested that a shot of their from distance hit the crossbar and bounced down into the goal before being cleared by the BCS defense, and no goal given. For the XI there were shouts of handball on the goal line when Joe, in the midst of a crowd, kicked the ball right toward goal, and a Ballers player on the ground seemed to lift his hand to block the ball away.
So, while there was frustration by both sides about the poor referring BCS XI really should have played their game and put it to bed sooner. It's tough to give up a lead, and even harder to lose in the manner that it happened. However, lessons will be learned and certainly the XI will bounce back strong, next week at home, against the cross town rivals OHP Gunners.