The community center field was painted with the all-too-familiar white lines to start another adult co-ed soccer season Thursday night. The field, a bit smaller to accommodate the slightly smaller rosters for each of the eight teams, was filled with the energy of the 10 players, who took the field for the first game matching Team Acqua Aveda led by Eric Pullen and Team Sato Real Estate.
Missing their captain Josh Sato, Sato Real Estate held its own on the field with Nate Welch in the goal. After nearly 10 minutes of play, Pullen put the first goal on the scoreboard despite the defensive efforts of Zoran Kolega, who came out of retirement after several years away from the Island’s field.
Bobby Troxler, for Sato Real Estate, quickly took the soccer ball and slammed it into the goal against keeper Steve Oelfke to tie the game 1-1.
With a quick change of goalies by both teams, Pullen took the role as protector of the house, allowing Oelfke to take a hard shot that went over the post and wide right. Sato Real Estate took the missed shot as an opportunity to move the ball down the field with precise passing from Kolega to Chelsea Hoffner. Hoffner’s shot went just wide right with eight minutes left on the clock for the first half of play.
The next three minutes of the game saw rocket shots by Kolega off the back of Acqua Aveda’s Rico Beissert, a shot by Hoffner saved by Pullen and a saved shot by Sato Real Estate’s Yunior Guerra.
Aggressive defensive play by Oelfke against Kolega led to a foul call on Oelfke. Kolega’s free kick was intercepted by an Acqua Aveda defender. After tough play, Sato Real Estate managed to regain possession, finding Hoffner all alone down field.
Hoffner, with all the time in the world and green field in front of her with no defenders, took the shot that went to the right of the goal. Despite several excellent shot attempts, Hoffner could not find the net in the first game of the season.
Drew Mitchell wore he goalie hat of responsibility with less than three minutes left in the first half. With team captain Pullen back on the field, he was able to control the pace of the game and control Acqua Aveda’s offensive run by putting the ball in the goal, giving his team a one point lead ending the half.
Pullen’s neighbor and first round draft pick Stephen Adair started the second 23 minutes of play in the goalkeeper position. Troxler took his turn in goal for Sato Real Estate.
After three minutes of defensive soccer, Kolega worked the field and managed to get Adair to move away from the goal just enough to score, tying the game 2-2.
With both teams playing four players on the field for the entire game, fatigue started to set in and the pace of the game slowed. Pullen finally found an opportunity to take a shot that rocketed toward the net, only to be saved by keeper Welch.
Team Acqua Aveda put a point on the scoreboard with a shot by Adair, advancing the score to 3-2.
Neither team having a dedicated goalie in the game, Guerra took his turn at the helm just in time for Pullen to take another shot after stealing the ball from Kolega. Failing to score, Sato Real Estate took over on offense.
Both teams started to make rapid striking efforts with just 12 minutes left in the game. Shots by Welch and Oelfke were just off target. Beissert’s missile shot hit and moved his team up by two goals with the score 4-2.
Three minutes later, Sato Real Estate’s Troxler shot the ball past goalkeeper Mitchell, closing the gap against Acqua Aveda. Looking to tie the ballgame, Hoffner took her last shot of the game after a smooth pass from Welch. Mitchell popped the ball out of play to retain his team’s lead. Taking the corner kick, Welch found teammate Kolega in front of the goal, but the ball could not find the net.
Another goalie change by both teams put Welch and Oelfke on guard. Welch found himself in the ready position watching the fancy footwork of Pullen, anticipating the inevitable shot.
Getting the soccer ball past Kolega, Pullen fired the shot past Welch, giving him the hat trick and his team a two-point lead. With no time on the scoreboard, Kolega made another strong effort toward the goal hoping to find one more scoring opportunity before the official’s whistle, but to no avail.
Team Acqua Aveda collected its first win of the season to start the league’s season. Other winners of the night were Sean Flynn’s Mulock Flynn Law in an exciting comeback game, Danny Anderson’s Jiffy Lube with an easy win and Kris Yavalar’s dominating victory.
The season continues on into December with the championship game on the 7th. There are many games to play, and changes in the rankings are certain to come.