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Sports exploits of the amazing Steadman children.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Roast Penguins: Ladies play three solid quarters but can't overcome two lucky goals in the first period.

Dateline: October 18, 2008, Holmes Field. The slumping FC Penguins (season record 3-3) started the first quarter where they left off last week -- flat -- and despite a strong rally and three quarters of outstanding play could not overcome a two-goal deficit.

The Penguins arrived at Holmes Field expecting to face a new challenge, but instead were confronted by an old one. Due to an apparent mistake by League Management and Commissioner Lee Leibig, the Penguins were scheduled to face an old foe, the Green Dragons. Attentive readers will recall that the Penguins and the Dragons played a close match in week 3, wherein the Penguins ultimately prevailed 1-0 on a goal by Audrey Madura in the final two minutes. Attentive readers will also recall that the Dragons field one of the best players in the league, a tall Dutch "ringer" named Chloe with excellent footwork and outstanding offensive skills. "We are starting to believe that League Management is out to get us," said Coach Steadman. "Last week we were lined up against perhaps the best team in the league. This week, we have to play perhaps the best player in the league, and for the second time. It is hard enough in this league to beat a team once, but as everyone knows beating a team twice just doesn't happen very often." The Penguins definitely tried.

In the first quarter, the Penguins fielded Jackie McShan in goal, Maura Reilly and Audrey Madura on defense, and Taylor Leibig and Adela Duewel on offense. Two of the Dragons players refused to take the field, one of them lying face down on the pitch to cry, leaving them with only five active players for the first quarter, and so the Penguins played a man short to even the pitch. For whatever reason, the Penguins started a bit flat, but being short a player to defend Chloe also hurt them. Midway through the first quarter, Chloe got a breakaway in the Penguins' end and sliced the ball past McShan for a lucky goal.

In the second quarter, the Dragons' players finally relented to play, and the Penguins thus also returned to full strength. McShan stayed in goal, Sarah "Roku" Steadman and Audrey Madura were on defense, and Lauren Atchley, Taylor Leibig, and Adela Duewel played offense. Out of the box, Chloe got a second lucky breakaway and packed the goal for a second score, making it 2-0 Dragons. The Penguins then buckled down as Coach Steadman screamed from the sidelines, Audrey Madura got a long breakaway on a steal by Duewel and scored to begin what looked like a rally. Madura had a second shot on goal in the second period, McShan had several key saves and ran out of the box to capture the ball, but the Penguins did not get any more scores in the second and went into halftime down 2-1.

In the third period, Taylor Leibig took over goaltending duties and displayed excellent talent. The Penguins goal became a closed door to Chloe and the Dragons. Roku Steadman and Audrey Madura played defense, Atchley, McShan and Reilly played offense, and the Penguins dug in and played especially hard. Leibig stopped shot after shot by Chloe, shutting her down and removing her effective strength. Madura had another breakaway shot on goal that was barely stopped by the Dragons' goalie, and the Penguins looked great.
Atchley played her best football of the season, repeatedly protecting the goalie and making several steals (including two from Chloe). But there were no scores in the third and the Penguins headed to the last frame still down 2-1.

In the fourth period, Leibig stayed in goal and continued making magnificent stops. Atchley and Steadman played defense, Duewel, Madura and Reilly played offense. Steadman had a breakaway from the defensive side and made a brilliant shot on goal that went just an inch wide of the pipes -- her best play of the entire season. Atchley continued her improved and more-aggressive play. But the Penguins just couldn't get it in the net. "Sometimes football is like that," said Coach Steadman. "Football takes team play, hard work, and skill, but it also takes a little luck. Sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way." The whistle blew on the Penguins rally, and the match ended 2-1 in the Dragons' favor.

"It was really disappointing," said Roku Steadman. "We had to overcome a lot. Andie Corsino was out sick today and we really missed her passing and aggressive offense. You know, she can really mix it up. And then the Dragons' players effectively denied us a player to guard Chloe in the first period. We tried hard, but we just couldn't get there after that lucky goal against us in the first period."

"We found some things out about our team today." Said Coach Steadman. "We need Corsino. Leibig proved a tremendous goalie. I think Achley saw that she can mix it up even with a bigger player like Chloe. It was a good experience. But we have to stop dropping these big games."

Rumor from the Glacier (the Penguins' headquarters) may make Coach Steadman more urgent. It appears that team management is not happy with his performance, and is threatening to make unspecified changes if things don't improve. "Management, who's management?" asked Coach Steadman. "Those guys never support us. We don't care about management. We only care about results." Fan Kathy McGrath, who watched the match on TV this week, had comments for Coach Steadman too. Interviewed at her home, McGrath warned: "Last week, I told him, 'improve or get a kick to the 'ead.' Well, where is he? I'm ready to start kicking! Fans expect better than this from the Penguins. We pay for ridiculous ticket prices, we buy the $10 beers, and whadda we get?" Informed that the Penguins allow free viewing of the game and don't sell beer, McGrath said "Whatever. They better get better or it's his butt on the line."

The AP named Leibig player of the game. Photos of the game can be seen here.

The Penguins have two matches left. Next week, they practice at 9:45am with a game around 10:00am at Maple North field against David Shack's Team 11. "We are looking for the ball to bounce our way this time," said Coach Reilly.

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