Tuesday night's match-up between the 2005 season's third and fourth place finishers offered a glimpse into what's to come in the final weeks of soccer league play. Third-ranked Old and In the Way battled long and hard against fourth-ranked Fat Alley throughout Tuesday's game, but the not-so-old OAITW players were unable to upend Fat Alley's forceful squad and fell 1-0 in their first tournament game.
Fat Alley, a team that traditionally boasts season-ending stats that put them in the top three, suffered a bout of ill-timed injuries this season that marred their usually spotless record. But for the tournament, the Fat Alley crew has reemerged with renewed fire, welcoming back previously injured players Ryan Tougher, Brendan Clark, Matt Michell, and Joe James. They are also sporting spanking new white jerseys to go along with their renewed team.
"The biggest thing is that everyone's back," said team manager Justin Chandler. "We switched up our lineup for our game with the West End last week, and that tactic seemed to work great, so we're sticking with that."
Fat Alley quickly established their dominance in Tuesday night's game with an early goal. Veteran Fat Alley player Mick Hill knocked one past OAITW keeper Bill Hoins off a perfect cross pass from Kristen Hoins, putting the score at 1-0 within the first few minutes of the match.
It did not turn out to be so easy for Fat Alley players to increase their lead, however, as OAITW's defense stepped up their efforts considerably after that first early goal. Although the team's Johnny Haas, Caleb Martin, Kailee Ranta, and Andrew Brown steadily delivered potentially goal-saving plays, it was goalkeeper Bill Hoins' game on Tuesday night.
Fast-fired shots delivered by Fat Alley's Mitchell, Clark, Kristen Hoins and more throughout the game danced dangerously close to the back of OAITW's net, but goaltender Hoins did not let a single intruder enter into his domain.
A few breakaway plays from OAITW's Martin, Sheri Brieske and David Espinosa came agonizingly close to bringing the score to a tie, but to no avail. One especially breathtaking play, a header delivered by Haas off a corner kick pass, momentarily gave OAITW some last minute hope late in the game. Fat Alley's keeper Bobby Murphy skillfully batted it down, however, simultaneously dashing his rivals' chances to tie the game.