One week after suffering the worst loss in their 11 years in the National Premier Soccer League, the Madison 56ers bounced back nicely Saturday on the road against the Minnesota Twin Stars – and they did so despite being without three starters and two other players who have been regular contributors this season.
UW-Whitewater's Sam Novak (Milton) scored the equalizer, and the 56ers got goals from center backs Zacc Roelke (Madison East) and Jack Hagstrom (Middleton) in a 6-minute span in the final quarter hour as they rallied past the Twin Stars 3-1 in a Midwest Region match at Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, Minn.
"It was really good to be able to come back and play well after last week, even with all those guys missing," said Madison coach Jim Launder, whose team suffered its first league loss of the season in a 5-0 setback against Detroit City FC last Saturday.
"We played pretty well. We were missing some guys, but other guys came in and did a good job. ... There's a reason that we planned on having a deep roster."
The Twin Stars (0-4-1), who scored twice in the final 8 minutes of regulation to pull out a 2-2 draw against the 56ers in an NPSL opener May 16, took the lead this time.
Matt Nyuah picked off a pass and played in Chandler Hutton-Lau, who had gotten in behind the Madison backline and fired a shot over 56ers goalkeeper Joe White in the 32nd minute. "It was a little bit against the run of play," Launder said.
Novak leveled the score 6 minutes later, a goal set up by a perfect ball played in over the top by Maranatha Baptist's Wira Wama.
"I knew it was trouble the minute he hit it, because it was going to bounce in that range where the center back couldn't get at it and the golkeeper couldn't get at it without exposing himself," Launder said. "Sam got to it first, took it down and the goalkeeper came out and actually fouled him, but Sam was able to get the shot off."
The 56ers (3-1-1 NPSL) were without starting forwards Drew Whalen (shin splints), Josh Thiermann (calf) and Gideon Asante (back/neck) and Launder opted to play Lucian Pârvu in the middle of the frontline in Madison's 4-3-3.
"We played with Lucian up front and asked him to play differently, with him as a frontrunner and kind of dropping back in, then other guys shooting forward and that actually worked out really well," Launder said of the 32-year-old Pârvu, who played 14 seasons professionally in his native Romania.
"He drops in more, he plays a little bit different kind of forward. He's normally a (No.) 10, but I thought today, 'We don't have a regular forward here, let's try something different than the last time we played them.' I thought it worked well."
Pârvu nearly scored on a chip, with the Minnesota keeper off his line, while midfielder Jacob Scotte-Hatherly got in behind the backline several times – he hit the crossbar in the 68th. "We had several good chances," Launder said.
But the center backs were the ones who provided the needed finishing touches on this day, both coming after corner kicks. When discussing center backs scoring off set pieces, usually you think of towering headers. That was not the case here.
Maranatha's Taylor Pill (Watertown) served in a corner that led to a shot by a 56ers player. A Twin Stars defender blocked the drive, but the ball bounded to Roelke and the UW defender chested it down and volleyed it in to give the visitors the lead.
Minutes later, Scotte-Hatherly played in a corner that was flicked on to the far post, where Hagstrom – who will be a freshman at Brown in the fall – was all alone.
"They lost Jack and he just hammered it in," Launder said. "Both of them just about tore the net off, they just smacked them."
Launder said Minnesota brought on forward Keido Pour, a longtime 56ers nemesis, and he nearly pulled a goal back in the final minutes. But Madison was able to see out the final 9 minutes and stoppage time to move into second place in the 13-team region – one point behind Detroit City (3-1-2), which has played one more game.
From the touchline
The 56ers received Jordayne Henry's international transfer clearance and the Englishman played the full 90 minutes at left back in his debut. "He had one bad giveaway that kind of led to their goal, but other than that he was very solid," Launder said. "He's very quick. We were much better at getting our outside backs into the attack with (Brian) Bultman and him out wide." ... Marquette's Driton Zyteja (Sun Prairie) and UW-Parkside's Ryan Shogren (Madison La Follette), who both regularly play in the midfield, didn't make the trip. Zyteja was attending a wedding, while Shogren had a work conflict. Defender Sam Della Monica (groin) and midfielder Johnnie Longmore (illness) also missed the match. Longmore had been out due to injury and returned to training, only to get sick. ... Dutch midfielder Julius Goedhart, who suffered a knee injury in a 2-0 loss to the Croatian Eagles on May 20, was on the bench. ... Madison returns home this week to play host to defending Midwest champion Lansing United (2-0-2) at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Michigan Stars FC (2-3-1) at 4 p.m. Sunday at Breese Stevens Field. It will be the first matches for the 56ers against both teams. "I may rotate things just because we might be able to bring some guys back in that we haven't had," Launder said of his lineup plans.
June 13, 2015 NPSL Midwest Region match
At Robbinsdale Cooper HS, New Hope, Minn.
Minnesota Twin Stars – Chandler Hutton-Lau (Matt Nyuah) 32
Madison 56ers – Sam Novak (Wira Wama) 38
Madison 56ers – Zacc Roelke 76
Madison 56ers – Jack Hagstrom 81
MADISON 56ERS: Joe White; Brian Bultman, Jack Hagstrom, Zacc Roelke, Jordayne Henry; Keenan Newallo, Taylor Pill (Callum Glen), Jacob Scotte-Hatherly (Carlos Martinez); Wira Wama (Miguel Izquierdo), Lucian Pârvu; Sam Novak (Tony Amolo). Substitutes not used: Scott Sibik (GK), Julius Goedhart, Felipe Mattar.