Thursday, February 28 was a frigid night at ECL, when a large contingent of SYA travel coaches and friends gathered under the lights to play soccer. A crowd of SYA travel players and their parents assembled in the stands to watch, parents huddling under blankets and children bearing signs and doing cheers and generally supporting their coaches. Teams were formed, and at the end of the hard- fought match, one team scored 6 goals and the other team 4 goals. (Which team won will remain a secret of the main referee).
Familiar faces showed their skill throughout the evening! Freedom assistant coach Heather Scott- Moleda and Jason Kruse assumed goal- keeper duties, handling the hard, cold balls directed their way, leaping for high shots and diving courageously after the low balls. Our esteemed commissioner, Jeff Stein, proved that even on the eve of his 50th birthday, he’s still ’got it’, tackling hard and sending long balls with ease from his slot in the Red defense all evening. Irving Williams showed everyone he still has plenty of power in his shots too, blasting home an early goal for the White team. Director of Coaching Rob Olson displayed the skills that allowed him to play professionally (remember the Kalamazoo Kangaroos!), directing the field, and valiantly giving his all despite having the flu. Head coach of the Freedom, Dean McAlpin, showcased his skills as well, shutting down the Red attack time after time and displaying flashes of the flair that made him a Premier League player in a former life! Jaguars and Velocity coach Christian Cziommer made it clear that Germans are indeed tough, physical players even in the winter chill, racing about, winning tackles and repeatedly changing the course of play. Eagles coach Gary Malebranche danced with the ball, making moves that had his players cheering from the sideline, changing gears to send crosses to team-mates and shots at the stoic Scott- Molleda time after time, scoring the final goal for Red. Marcelo Gangotena showed a youthful enthusiasm
that belied his age, with bursts of speed and moves and eventually, two goals for the White team to his credit while awing his Boca Jrs players as they stood on the sideline. All coaches played gallantly and gave it their all. No stretchers were needed, no cards were shown, and in the end, everyone gathered in the north-side goal to pose for a photo. As the teams walked off the field, Surge coach Jorge Rangel was overheard telling AR Tim Burns that before the next game, he’s going to drop 20 pounds. A few more games like this may be all it will take! The officiating, by center Sam Ziegler and ARs Tim Burns and "Please call to tell us your name" seemed to be right on all evening as well, and the players must have agreed based on the many smiling conversations and fond hand-shakes between players and referees. The crowd stayed to the end, with children eager to congratulate their coaches on a game well fought on both sides and parents praising the players’ fortitude despite the weather conditions! The general consensus was that SYA should hold more games like this, perhaps when the mercury is a bit higher.