The Quad City Eagles had already clinched first place in the National Premier Soccer League Midwest Region Central Division. The Milwaukee Bavarians had already wrapped up second place in the division.
And despite having no field players available as substitutes, the host Bavarians still managed to close out their season on a high note with a 2-0 victory over the Eagles last Sunday in Glendale.
Center back Jimmy Grunert (Muskego) and forward Justin Laird (Hartford) scored for Milwaukee (8-3-1), which ended up three points behind Quad City (9-2-1) and four ahead of the Madison 56ers (6-3-3) in the Central standings.
"I don't think that was their strongest team, but I was OK with that – we didn't have our strongest team," Bavarians coach Craig Peltonen said of the Eagles, who had suffered their first loss a night earlier in Madison. "I'm not sure they wanted to go into the playoffs losing two (games in a row), but I also don't think they were at full strength."
Grunert opened the scoring in the 20th minute, getting his head on a corner kick by UW-Milwaukee midfielder Aaron Horvat (Waukesha Catholic Memorial). The ball bounced around inside the 6-yard box and eventually deflected off Grunert and into the goal for his first goal of the season.
"I thought we had some really good chances in the first half to maybe be up 2-0, maybe be up 3-0. I didn't think they were all that dangerous," Peltonen said. "Then in the second half, I thought they had a couple good chances ... There's no doubt about it, they could've gotten back into it. But either our defense was tough, someone made a good tackle, our goalkeeper, Jacob Bye (Whitnall), made a couple nice saves, or they mis-hit it."
That included a sequence where the Eagles broke in 3-on-1.
"For whatever reason ... both of our wide defenders caught up, our central defender stepped when he shouldn't have and they've got a 3-on-1," Peltonen said. "An errant pass allowed Jacob Bye to come off his line to get the ball."
University of Wisconsin midfielder Joe Naughton (Milwaukee Marquette), who had a would-be goal waved off in the 65th after being called for a foul before the shot, set up Laird's insurance goal in the 82nd.
Naughton had the ball on the left side and found Laird on a near-post run – the Quad City keeper made the initial save, but Laird stayed with the play and finished to the far post for his fifth goal of the season.
From the touchline
It was Bye's fourth shutout of the season. ... Horvat was named Milwaukee's "Man of the Match." ... Midfielder Sam Dorf (Milwaukee Marquette) was on the Bavarians' bench along with backup keeper Mac Wheeler (Kettle Moraine), but was unable to play due to injury. ... After his first season as the team's coach, Peltonen said he has had discussions with Bob Spielmann, the club's director of coaching, and expects to continue in the position next season. ... The Bavarians lost to a Milwaukee Wave team 10-6 in an exhibition match Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Arena. The Wave's roster for the game included regulars and players who had participated in the team's combine earlier in the week.
MILWAUKEE BAVARIANS: Jacob Bye; Luke Davey, Dustin Page, Jimmy Grunert, Adam Hermsen; Joe Naughton, Sebastian Jansson, Aaron Horvat, Dennis Holowaty; Justin Laird, Sam Krenzien. Substitutes not used: Mac Wheeler (GK), Sam Dorf.