The Milwaukee Bavarians keep scoring goals – and making up ground in the National Premier Soccer League Midwest Region Central Conference.
UW-Green Bay's Sam Krenzien (Wauwatosa West) had a hat trick Saturday night as the Bavarians cruised past the 10-man Minnesota Twin Stars 5-2 in Brookyln Park, Minn., for their third straight win.
The Bavarians (5-2-0) have rattled off 13 goals in their past three matches to pull within seven points of the conference-leading Quad City Eagles (7-0-1).
"The guys are playing well," Milwaukee coach Craig Peltonen said. "I think we've got a good group of guys. They're organized, I think we've got a good backline – we stay tight most of the time – and I think we've found a system that works for us and plays to the players' strengths. It's been working."
On Saturday, they made it work with all but one player logging the full 90 minutes, as only 12 players were available to make the trip.
"We were going to sit back, absorb some pressure and look to get behind them," Peltonen said of his strategy. "And it kind of worked, because they were playing pretty flat and pretty high."
Krenzien got things started with an opportunistic goal in the 19th minute. UW-Milwaukee's Robbie Boyd (Milwaukee Marquette) played in a cross from the right side that the Minnesota goalkeeper deflected right to Krenzien, who tapped it in.
Later in the half, Marquette's Sebastian Jansson – Boyd's opposite number on the left flank – broke in alone on goal and was taken down from behind by a Minnesota player, who was red carded. The Twin Stars (1-8-0) also played most of their most recent match against Milwaukee on June 9 with 10 men.
The visitors doubled their lead off a set piece in the 42nd. Jansson served in a corner kick that the keeper got a hand to, but the ball fell to Bavarians center back Dustin Page (Kettle Moraine Lutheran) with his back to the goal in the middle of the box.
"He takes a touch to turn, takes another touch – he's inside the 18-yard box and he gets two touches in there – and then he toe pokes it past the keeper through everybody," Peltonen said of Page's second goal of the year.
The Bavarians didn't need much time in the second half to seal the victory, scoring twice in the first nine minutes after the break.
The first goal in the 47th was a solo effort by Milwaukee School of Engineering midfielder Logan Andryk (Milwaukee Marquette). He got the ball about 35 yards from goal and encountered surprisingly little resistance as he worked toward the goal.
"One guy kind of comes to him but doesn't really pressure him, the guy who was providing cover doesn't come to him, so he kind of goes all the way in to about the 12-yard line and hits a bomb past the keeper," Peltonen said. "It was like the red sea parting, nobody stepped to him."
Seven minutes later, Boyd delivered a cross from the right side that found the opening between the backline and the keeper, and Krenzien provided a one-touch finish for what Peltonen called an "excellent goal" and a 4-0 lead.
The Twin Stars pulled one back a minute later, catching the Bavarians off guard with a quick restart, but Krenzien closed out his hat trick in the 76th to make it 5-1.
Marquette right back Adam Hermsen took a free kick that the Minnesota keeper knocked away, but college teammate Dennis Holowaty tracked down the loose ball. He beat a defender and got to the endline, then played a ball across the goalmouth that the keeper got a hand on, deflecting it to Krenzien for his fourth goal of the season.
Minnesota got another consolation goal, converting a breakaway against Bavarians keeper Jacob Bye (Whitnall) in the 90th minute to account for the final score. Milwaukee swept all three matches against the Twin Stars this season, winning 3-0, 4-1 and 5-2.
"I'll still say I think they have a lot of talent, they can be very dangerous," Peltonen said of the Twin Stars. "We've handled them, but I'm not sure the scores are indicative of the kind of team they are. I thought today they came out, they played a little tentative, something wasn't quite there for them, and we took advantage of it."
The Bavarians will look to further cut into Quad City's lead on Sunday as they play at Eau Claire Aris (1-5-1), with kickoff set for 3 p.m. The Eagles are idle this weekend.
MILWAUKEE BAVARIANS: Jacob Bye; Luke Davey, Dustin Page, James Ashcroft, Adam Hermsen; Sebastian Jansson (Andrew Krynski 65), Sam Dorf, Logan Andryk, Robbie Boyd; Sam Krenzien, Dennis Holowaty.