PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Stegman’s Soccer Club got the start it wanted Sunday afternoon, but the Minneapolis City affiliate fell short in its quest to qualify for the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The Rochester River Dogz tallied a pair of unanswered goals to defeat Stegman’s 2-1 in an Open Division qualifying match at Thornell Farm Park.
Austin Gerber connected on the eventual game winner in the 68th minute, but it was the play of River Dogz goalkeeper William Banahene which proved to be the difference.
“To me, their goalie was the man of the match,” Stegmna’s coach Dan Hoedeman said afterwards. “Those were two top-level saves he made.”
Stegman’s Nicholas Hutton got behind the Rochester backline and into the open field for a chance to snap a one-all tie midway through the second half. But Banahene came well off his line for the sliding stop. When the ball continued on its way and looked destined trickle into the net, before a River Dogz defender cleared it off the line.
‘I thought we did play well,” Hoedeman added. “We showed a lot of heart. There’s so much fight in the team.”
Three minutes later, Matt D’Amico freed Gerber with a through ball for the decider.
“They hit us on the counter,” Hoedeman explained. “We never let our heads drop, fought to the end. Even I thought the end would have a few more minutes with all the time wasted. A ton of fight. It’s disappointing to lose. That’s soccer sometimes.”
Tim Wills struck in the match’s opening minute to give SSC the early edge.
“It was a fast one. That’s how we wanted to start.”
The play started in the middle of the pitch with Martin Browne leading Hutton along the right wing. Hutton’s cross found Ben Wexler inside the 18 for a blast off the crossbar. Wills was there for the touch and a 1-nil lead.
“We needed the line-out to tell us it was in,” Hoedeman stated. “It was that close.”
“Being able to use the width like we did, it felt like we really stretched them out. We could have had some other goals. Just wasn’t our day.”
SSC built out of the left side for the remainder of the stanza with Charles Adams and winger Whitney Browne combining. Browne cutting in on his right and Adams making overlapping runs from the back.
“That was part of our game plan,” Hoedeman noted. “We wanted to work with them. It worked pretty well.”
Adams made a rush in the 23rd minute to give Stegman’s another prime opportunity, but the shot was wide of frame.
“Charlie is actually a converted central midfielder, so he gives us good technical ability on the ball, good delivery.”
“We saw them adjusting,” Hoedeman said of his opponent’s moves to counter the play along the side. “They switched some players over when they were making their substitutions.”
Martin Browne directed Stegman’s motion from the center of the pitch.
“What an incredible player. His work rate, his touch, his vision. When Martin plays well, we do. We were playing well today. He’s fantastic,” Hoedeman noted.
Stefanos Stamoulacatos leveled the match for Rochester in the 25th minute. Stamoulacatous was there on the doorstep to clean up the rebound on a Gerber blast from just outside the 18-yard box.
“They looked to counter really quickly through Gerber. But certainly, in the first half we had the ball and had them on the back. You could tell that we had the flow of the game up until the end where we started to chase it.”
Stegman’s had several chances in the closing minutes. Their best opportunity came when Miles Stcokman-Wills won a 50/50 ball in the visitors’ end of the field. Stockman-Wills led Martin Browne with a through ball, and Brown found Barinedum Kordah for an open shot that Banahene thwarted.
Stegman’s are affiliated with Minneapolis City SC, who did not qualify for the US Open Cup through league play, and so were using Stegman’s amateur route to the Open Cup to help build the profile of the NPSL club.
Stegman’s SC: Charles Adams, Eugene Benhart, Martin Browne, Whitney Browne, Matthew Elder, Nicholas Hutton, Norville Myles, Aaron Olson, Miles Stockman-Willis, Ben Wexler and Timothy Wills.
Rochester: William Banahene, Mitchell Brickman, Michael Cunningham, Matthew D’Amico, Austin Gerber, Alexander Harling, Omar Mohamed, Zikret Osmic, Anthony Rozzano, Jacob Schindler and Stefanos Stamoulacatos.