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Post  Matt Marcin...z on Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:11 am

Back in the earliest of the early aughts, I played on a couple Tri Town U-17ish teams with one Chris Griffiths.  Chris (apologies if he reads this and takes offense), was something of a late bloomer, as he could not crack the starting lineup of that team, even with one of the center midfield spots being held down by the underwhelming likes of Ben Tsujimoto (lol--apologies also).  Also on that team were the likes of Ricky C-Los Martinez and Roos manager-for-life Phil Barrett.  Quite an historic (why 'an historic'?  No idea why that ever gets used) squad, if you ask me.  The coach was Raffaelle/Ralph Palumbo, whose older son shared CM duties with Ben while his younger son, Chad, dreamed of a future couple-year stint with Rangers, before both Palumbo sons eventually relocated from their rural hometown on one end of the state to the big city at the other end.  

Tonight we at Polonia faced what seems like something of a U-17 squad plus Griffiths, formerly Nick Perillo, and maybe a couple other older guys (and by that I'd mean college age) mixed in.  In reality, I assume their team is a bit like much of our team--making the crossover from U-17/U-19/high school soccer to men's league.  I saw this Tri-Town team all winter, or from mid-January on, anyway, and I saw them hold their own against older, bigger, more experienced squads all winter.  I saw them do this even as their best player (well, arguably Perillo, but I meant Chris) was something of a non-factor indoors.  So I knew this team could be decent in 1st division this summer, and indeed they have been...especially once I realized that they lost to NMB only by forfeit and to Yemen by a respectable 2-goal margin in what was either their first or second game of the outdoor season.

This game was held on the back field, which is personally my preferred field at Sahlens, if you've ever been.  Mosquitoes can be a factor, lost soccer balls can definitely be a factor given the proximity of the trees (from what I saw, only one was lost tonight...win!), but it's just got the feel...and lack of slope...which makes it the preferred option to me.   The fans showed up in full force for this--I think we must've been able to claim an attendance of 35 lawn chair occupants, which would slightly edge out the turnout for our Tehel game vs. Yemen (held on the same field, for what it's worth...and I'm still miffed we blew a 3-0 lead in that game with a man advantage, but that's a story for another forum post that at this point will never be written).  Polonia had 14, which in my opinion is an ideal turnout, and Tri-Town had same, plus or minus one.

Not going to sugarcoat the game summary portion of this write-up: we controlled this game from start to finish.  The fact that it was 0-0 for at least 60 minutes and 1-0 for around 88 minutes is a testament to Tri-Town try-hard and, well, luck, if I'm honest.  The Polonia sideline consensus at halftime was 'that was a really good half' and the consensus at end of game was 'that was a really good game'.  Granted, Derek's vocal opinionating can sometimes be confused with 'consensus' when no one argues with it...but I don't see why anyone would argue in this case.  Tri-Town are organized, disciplined, and adept at passing...but, as Derek said, they were not really winning any one-on-one battles against us today.  And since we're also organized, disciplined, and adept at passing...that meant advantage Polonia.  

Last game versus the Gunners, we were missing four of our top five attacking threats...typical stopper (but definite attacking threat) Nick Donner scored both goals as he split time at forward with fellow defender Aaron Calabrese.  Today, we had guys like David Mack and Jake Kovalewski back in the fold, and they were threatening all day on diagonal runs off the back shoulder of defenders or running right at defenders in Dave's case especially.  It is a credit to Tri-Town's keeper and defense that the game was 0-0 at half, although both could have been at fault on a near-own goal that occurred in the first half...luckily for Tri-Town, their Netter-sized keeper just barely covered up on the goal line after an errant attempt at a clearance in the six-yard box.  

Tri-Town's best chances in the first half, and, alas, for the entire game were off a 30-yard strike from Griffiths that was going wide but was saved by GK Matt Gobalski for good measure and off a somewhat ill-advised back pass to the GK by yours truly...the pass got there, but barely.  It was one step away from trouble--I made the mistake of making the pass when Tri-Town had already been on the attack; therefore, the box was a little too crowded for comfort.  Luckily GK Matt got there and cleared it to around the spot out of bounds where I should've cleared it.  But if you infer from the first sentence of this paragraph, that means there were no actual dangerous attempts on goal all game from the Zac Brown Band aficionados in red.

At half, there was a little 'we have to get a goal before something stupid happens' anxiety on the Polonia sideline, but mostly confidence that if the play continued to follow the first-half script, the goal would occur...in fact, the floodgates might open.  I pointed out that Griffiths can score from anywhere; Derek, Chuck, and Aaron did the rest of the talking; and the team took the field for the beginning of the second-half with what seemed like quiet confidence.

After having put in a solid 45 in the first half, ill-advised back pass notwithstanding, I took my turn on the sideline to begin the second.  Derek had suffered a 'lower body injury' (to use NHL injury reporting tactics) on a 50-50 with 5-10 minutes left in the first, and was limping somewhat noticeably for the rest of the game, so I was on guard to potentially have to be pressed into action if he didn't feel like he could continue, or if he aggravated the injury.  But he toughed out another 90, so I waited my ten minutes as normal substitution patterns were maintained.  That first ten minutes was telling...oftentimes over the years, Polonia will start the second half a bit sluggishly, obviously dropping off from a first half that is quite often semi-controlled.  This is the long-term trend--take my words a five-year vet or whatever I am at this point.  I think it was telling that we opened the half essentially the same we we'd played the first...winning most 50-50s, winning challenges upfield, passing the ball around well, and either just missing a connecting pass or spraying a shot wide or into traffic.  It was encouraging.

We had a bunch of corners in this game, and given the general height advantage we have/had over Tri-Town, I thought early on that we could maybe capitalize on one of these.  Indeed, we eventually did for the long-in-the-making first goal of the game.  M Camilo Villegas whipped in a cross towards the six from the left attacking corner, and Jake Kovalewski got a flick-on header on it near the near post...that touch alone looked like it might be enough to get in the net, but as the Tri-Town GK valiantly dove and I believe saved the initial effort, midfielder and man of the match candidate Chase Sorrentino got a foot on it from close range, and the ball squirted into the side netting for a classic Polonia-style goal.  

1-0, maybe 65 minutes in.

Tri-Town had some decent pressure from this point on--ref-aided at times, I'd have to say.  One of the fouls that was *not* a referee mistake presented them with a dangerous opportunity in prime Griffiths FK range from maybe 25 yards out towards their right attacking corner of the 18...Griffiths and another player stood over the ball from opposite sides, and the other player (Sasha?) ended up striking it high and wide.  There were a few corners to defend and a couple other free kicks, but nothing ended up on goal, possibly at all, but certainly nothing dangerous.  

Polonia were still seeing their fair share of the play during this time and were just missing on various counters.  

Finally, with about two minutes to go, F John Lerigo buried a shot lower far corner from just outside the 18 to seal the victory.  Even that one caromed in off the post, which seemed fitting given the many near-misses that had occurred before that.

Final whistle blew as multiple Polonia players protested a potential PK which was not called right at the time of said whistle.

Fun, clean game overall.  Good game to Tri-Town and good luck in all future BDSL endeavors.  See y'all in the winter, in all likelihood.

Matt Marcin...z

Number of posts : 309
Team : Polonia
Full Name : Matt Marcinkiewicz
Registration date : 2013-06-28

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