Kangaroos 2, Polska[nga[Roos]] 2

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Post  Matt Marcin...z on Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:20 am

How pessimistic is it for me to assume that this past weekend will go down as the best weekend in 2019 for Buffalo, weather-wise?  It's not even officially summer yet, but as a Buffalo lifer, I'm just going to have to assume that, warming trends of recent years notwithstanding (what summer was it where we had the drought and dependable sunshine basically every day, 2016?  Somehow I feel like I was waking up at 4 PM every day that summer, thus ruining my perception of it...anyway), this past weekend will end up being the peak of 2019 Niagara Frontier phenomenological experience.  Sorry, those last two words are pretty meaningless, but the erstwhile philosophy student in me never quite goes away

I showed up a record 20 minutes ahead of time for this 'rivalry' (from my point of view) match down in Tesla plant/Parker Pitch Bar-adjacent industrial South Buffalo at the same location that fellow forum contributor and apparent Elmwood Avenue beautician david martinez (I keep it all lowercase out of respect to the artist's wishes) referred to, pejoratively and correctly, as a 'brownfield'.  My reward for doing that was a pregame handshake with none other than some unknown Roo named Michael Schieber.  I had his ear for 30, maybe even 60, seconds as we walked towards the field and said nothing meaningful; I'll take reader requests for the next time this might happen.  If anyone reading this never attends league meetings or comments in the BDSL Twitterverse but somehow wants to get through to Schieber Himself, please comment here and I can guarantee you that the message will be delivered within the next three years, ignoring potential promotion/relegation complications.  But yeah, the pipeline to power exists here and therefore will be abused at some later date, surely; I'll go Internet Philosophical Quote 101 on you here when I remind you that 'Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely'.  My absolute power as a 60 second-per-year-conduit to the league president will someday make me into a Bernie Madoff of sorts, I'm certain.

I'd texted our manager/de facto manager Aaron Andrews about this game a couple hours ahead of time, asking to confirm that we'd have good numbers, because I wasn't even entirely sure if I was going to play given that I've had a hamstring issue over the past couple weeks.  He informed me that we'd have 16, so I knew I could've sat this one out if I so chose.  I jogged 4 miles or so rather pathetically late Thursday night and likely would've been held out by Polonia training staff on the basis of that jog; lucky for me, Polonia training staff does not exist and I was free to make my own decision.  Given no apparent discomfort as I walked to and from Barnes & Noble that Sunday afternoon, I made the quite educated decision to play.

As I retrieved my #15 jersey from unsung Polonia MVP Grandpa Sokolowski, he and I had what must've been our longest conversation in my 6 or so years with the team as he talked about the grain elevators that are viewable from the Medaille field/soon-to-be-complex.  Couple winters back, I drove him to 2 or 3 Sahlen's indoor 8v8 Polonia games, and during those drives I gleaned (no pun intended?) that he had worked at a grain elevator, but I mistakenly thought he'd been at the iconic General Mills GE (grain elevator not General Electric).  Now, this past Sunday, he set me straight, telling me that he was at Con-Agra I think (even now I might not have this right) and that General Mills actually had a small mill relative to Con-Agra's and another one that was/is nearby.  I'm already googling/wikipediaing 'grain elevators' as I type this, realizing how poorly I understand the subject (hopefully 'HowStuffWorks' has an entry on this), but we'll let this minimally informative paragraph stand as is because I do eventually have a soccer game to attempt to describe.  

The actual real time was displayed on the field's scoreboard, and as 6 PM approached, the officiating crew called for captains, and I looked up, mostly dressed/prepared to take the field though sans jersey I believe, and I saw my old friend Brian Bartosik out there as the Roos' captain.  Bartosik and I go all the way back to 2001-2002 Canisius High School soccer squads, where he was the relative phenom as a soph/junior and I was the underachieving upperclassman (even though I was younger than him, lol)--hadn't seen my friend in years so I decided to pose as captain for the occasion.  I correctly called tails and claimed the uh eastern side of the field for Polonia, probably my most significant contribution on the day if I'm being honest.  

Game commenced not long thereafter.  The Roos/Rampart not-quite-hybrid (more Roos than Rampart, I guess) opened up with the better of the play, with methodical possession.  Their diminutive outside mid Toni (I believe) was their most threatening player all evening, and he soon made a couple runs on the left flank that produced dangerous crosses and resulting corners.  The Medaille turf field is spacious, maybe D'Youville-sized if not slightly wider, and a guy like that given space to work will in fact 'do work'--I was having visions of Devonte from 2018 BSC International as I watched this kid initially, even though I could tell he wasn't as fast/quick.  But, not being 100%, I was slightly worried, knowing I'd have to deal with him on that side of the field.  

So Polonia abided by their normal 'every ten minutes' substitution patterns, which I surmise our team Twitter manager Mate Tarr may not like given our tweets over the past two weeks.  If he doesn't like them, I have something to do with that, because I entered the field with the masses at around the ten minute mark and promptly committed a handball within the box on an awkwardly shoulder-level ball where I was shielded from view by a teammate...yeah, it was unlucky and frustrating.  Not even being sure if I belonged in the game, I considered subbing myself off, but decided to play on, as I didn't feel 'hurt' in any way.  Whichever right-footed Roo took the PK buried it slightly unconventionally, upper 90 to his right (gimme a PK percentage chart off 538.com or the soccer equivalent and I bet that's <10% for placement--wouldn't ever guess that corner if i were a keeper seeing a right-footed striker approaching the penalty stripe).

We seemed a bit lethargic all throughout, but I think we gradually picked it up as this game progressed, starting after that goal, even as we soon after lost both Andrews brothers to injury (for Derek, an aggravation of a preexisting hamstring injury; for Aaron some knee injury based on a collision...as he described it to me, it sounded like a knee-to-knee collision you might more often get in basketball, but I'm not 100% on that).  We possessed a little more but still lacked much energy or creativity, with the exceptions of team/possibly division MVP D/M/F Jordan Mullen and soon-to-depart-for-his-native-Bangladesh M Shayer Khan, who was his usual distributive self in the attacking mid area of the field.  That guy/kid (think he was 18) will be missed--good player and a nice dude.  Hope Bangladesh isn't a climate change casualty in the next few decades--any reasonable projection will tell you it might be.  I'll offer this much and leave it at this: 'According to National Geographic, Bangladesh is one the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change.'  Fucking geopolitics.

Neither team had any particularly great chances for the rest of the half--1-0.

I felt bad being responsible for our one goal conceded at half--but somehow, not that bad.  The season is to me one long game, and to be down 1-0 against one of the division's better teams when I'm recovering from injury and a couple of our better players were absent...we're good.  All-purpose mensch Nick Donner (by that description, I mean to say he's one of our best players who can play any position on the field--like Jordan without the finishing) expressed his frustration about the PK at halftime, and I got a little defensive, but he later apologized (not that he made it personal to begin with), and I felt like the game was salvageable.  I trotted onto the field 30 seconds into halftime to prepare for my shift in solitude.

Second half was almost as nondescript as the first, except there were three goals scored instead of one.  Being down 1-0 and with 'chief strategists' Aaron and Derek Andrews confined to the sidelines (and ultimately myself after I called it quits for the day after 10 minutes to start the second half), we tried to figure out when to push 3 people forward.  Jordan being the beast that he is, he ended up with 2 goals in the second, though the chronology of it in relation to formation change is lost on me--I remember that we made it 1-1 off of a corner where he converted a relative free header--perfectly placed to the corner, nothing Slabyk-not-Schieber could do.  Then with maybe around 10 remaining and the wise onlooker livebetting on a 1-1 draw, an apparently sick (according to Tsujimoto intelligence) Austin Tom made a nice play to turn, evade a defender near the top of the box, and finish.  The Polonia push forward was then 100% in effect and Jordan answered a few minutes later by holding off Matt Brehm on the left attacking side of the field and finishing low far corner to a possibly too slow-charging Slabyk.  

2-2.  Hopefully we do it again in a couple months or so

PS Schieber had an attacking foray where he made 3 or 4 guys miss and just missed the far corner from the top of the box.  Polonia might have forfeited the rest of our season had that one gone in.  

Longest recap I've ever written?  I won't know till I click 'send' and scan the finished product...feels like it though.  Probably because I felt like i was milking the maximum from what was ultimately a rather uneventful (though personally quite enjoyable) game

Matt Marcin...z
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Post  david martinez on Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:32 am

Elmwood avenue beautician? upper westside brawler, cuzzo. ask around

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Post  Matt Marcin...z on Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:37 pm

Lol, wasn't being entirely serious. Just remember that one building on Elmwood near Potomac/Bird has a sign with your picture out there--or so I thought anyway--maybe I was misinformed

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