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Sports exploits of the amazing Steadman children.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

FC Penguins Rediscover Offense, Ice Team USA 7-0

FC Penguins and Coaches Celebrating Sweet Victory.
From Left to Right: (first row) Maura Reilly, Lauren Atchley,
Andie Corsino, Audrey Madura; (second row) Coach Brian Reilly,
Jackie McShan, Sarah Steadman, Taylor Leibig, Adela Duewel
(back row) Overweight Coach Steadman

Dateline: October 4, 2008, Maple North Field. After two defensive matches in which all teams scored a combined total of only two goals, FC Penguins arrived to South Oak Park this afternoon prepared for more defense, more tests, and more grit in their faces. They found an opposing team sporting red-white-and-blue-clad uniforms and a dominating name: "Team USA." The Penguins' supporters on the sidelines prepared for the worst, and worry wrinkled more than one brow.

The Penguins' offense had been noticeably silent for two matches, and Coach Steadman's pre-match press conference gave fans of the black-and-whites plenty to worry about. "Defensively, we are clearly about as solid as football teams get. But if we keep scoring at this pace, we are eventually going to get routed," he said. Coach Reilly went further, refusing outright to answer questions about the team's training regimen this week. "I've told CBS, NBC, ESPN, CNBC and the rest of the alphabet soup, and I'll tell you too: we are not going to talk about our team meetings. Period. So stop asking already."

Whatever they did to prepare for this match, it worked. Their defense barely broke a sweat -- their goalies had only one save between them, because Team USA notched only one shot on goal all afternoon. But the offense put on a football clinic, passing, shooting and scoring almost at will and most certainly breaking their slump. The match was never close, and the ladies displayed new talent and focus all day long.

The Penguins set a powerful first-quarter lineup with Jackie McShan at center, Sarah "Roku" Steadman and Adela Duewel at forward, Audrey Madura and Lauren Atchley on defense, and first-time goalie Taylor Leibig. Midway through the first period, Adela Duewel showed her best play of the year with a brilliant steal and downfield pass, which led seconds later to a flawless assist from Steadman on the left side to Madura on the right, straight across the goal box.

Madura hammered the ball back across the goal box to the rear corner of the net in a shot the Team USA goalie had no chance to block, racking the first score. Madura, playing downfield-defense, had two more shots on goal in the first period. Andie Corsino, who replaced an injured Steadman late in the first, had an additional shot on goal. Goalie Leibig never even saw a ball in the first period let alone had to block one. The first period ended with the Penguins up 1-0. As it turned out, one goal was all they would need -- but far from what they would ultimately score.

The Penguins mixed up the lineup in the second period, with McShan staying at center, Corsino and Maura Reilly at forward, Roku Steadman and Madura on defense, and Atchley in goal. That's when the party broke out. This formation produced goals from top scorers Madura and Corsino, and another from Atchley (her first of the season). McShan was everywhere, creating opportunities for the Penguins until a Team USA shin-guard struck her thumb, forcing her out of the match for the last three minutes of the second period. Madura simply would not allow Team USA into the Penguins' end, and for the second quarter in a row the Penguins goalie never took a shot. The half ended Penguins four, Team USA zero and the rout looked to be on.

Coach Steadman mixed up the lineup again for the third period, with Leibig, Madura, and Duewel on offense, Roku Steadman and Corsino on defense, and Reilly in goal. Leibig scored her first goal of the season early in the third period. Madura then scored her third goal of the match -- incredibly notching her second career hat trick in only four matches. Leibig, not to be outdone, scored her second goal of the match on a Team USA throw-in and things got out of hand as the Penguins exhausted themselves hammering balls into the USA net. Like Atchley and Leibig before her, Goalie Reilly did not see the ball in the third period as Team USA could not manage a shot on goal. The third period ended Penguins 7, Team USA 0.

In the fourth period, Coaches Steadman and Reilly chose to rest the team rather than risk injury with no real threat from Team USA. Corsino, the Penguins' smallest and youngest player, offered to play goalie. Atchley and Reilly played defense, while Duewel and Leibig played offense. McShan stayed with the coaches to rest. This evened things a little bit. Leibig had three shots on goal but could not quite get it past Team USA's goalie, while the Penguins' defense was finally tested and Corsino notched a save by smothering a shot. Play got more physical, and Leibig traded elbows with Team USA's Coach's daughter. McShan couldn't restrain herself any longer with four minutes to go, and begged to be let back into the match. Coach Steadman put her in, but let Team USA go "man up" with an extra player to keep things in check. There was no scoring in the fourth period, and the matched ended with the score 7-0.

After the match, Roku Steadman was giddy. "Before the match, when I first found out the other team called itself 'Team USA,' I told Audrey [Madura] that we should 'Peck 'em, not elect 'em," she said, referring to the ongoing presidential elections in the United States. "She did it!" Corsino was thinking along similar lines. "Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Braves, Team USA, Pshah! The Penguins are America's Team, everyone knows that much," she said.

Coach Reilly praised the Penguins' developing players. "This match really let some of our girls get out of their shells. Atchley played as well as I have seen her play, she's really improving and contributing out there. Duewel had renewed purpose too, that steal was fantastic. I'm really proud of both of them." Coach Steadman was not to be found, and post-match rumors had him calling Paris to place bets that the Penguins could best the French National mens team. No word yet on whether the French took him up on that bet.

League Commissioner Leibig commented on the elbow-throwing. "Looked pretty rough out there. Of course, it was my daughter Taylor, so I guess I'll be impartial and reserve judgment."

After the match, the AP named Taylor Leibig the player of the game. A complete set of press photos can be seen here.

The Penguins had better get their feet back on the ground and prepare hard this week. Their next test will be the long-awaited St. Giles Cup, to be played at the site of the Penguins' only prior loss (Maple South Field) on October 11, 9:45am. They will face David Nikolai's St. Giles Team Inferno with their bright red uniforms. Experienced and wily Coach Nikolai will surely have his team ready, and his roster features offensive superpowers Maggie VanEhrman, Jada Harris, Emma Nikolai, and Rochine Smith.

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