By: Bryan Giese
Torrent Drop Season Opener At Home
The Milwaukee Torrent men’s team began their 2018 campaign against Afc Ann Arbor on Saturday night at Hart Park Stadium. The team has high hopes for this season, but knew the opening day match-up was going to be a tough test. They come out strong, but ran out of gas in the second half, falling to the Mighty Oaks 0:4.
The match was much closer than the score would indicate. The first half was played out in a very small section of the field, mainly a 20 yard stretch right at the midfield line. Both clubs would play high lines in the defense, leaving very little room for either team to build out their offenses. The Torrent were able to generate a few quality scoring chances, but just weren’t able to score.
Mark Hutchinson, Paris Martins and Abe Kanneh were all able to challenge the Ann Arbor goal keeper, but just weren’t able to finish.
Paris Martins said after the game, “If we had finished just one of those chances in the first half, everything is different. With the lead, you can control the pace to how we want it.”
Okumu Solid For Ann Arbor
Milwaukee’s first half struggles were in part to the strong defensive play of Joseph Okumu. A member of the U23 Kenyan National team, Okumu was able to disrupt and shut down most the Torrent opportunities built on the right side.
“He is a very good player,” comments Mark Hutchinson. “He was good in the air and is always a threat from set pieces. We figured out what to do against him however, so next match will be different.”
The Torrent backline continued the preseason trend of trying to build chemistry. Saturday marked the fifth match in a row where they started a different group of defenders. Elvis Barclay made his return to the field with a solid performance. He began on the left side but switched with Aaron Horvat midway through the first half. Horvat, who played briefly with Milwaukee a year ago, returned to the team for the first time on Saturday.
The backline was centered by Captain Stuart Grable, who would leave the match in the second half with a lower extremity injury. Grable is expected to recover and be available for the Torrent’s next match.
Ann Arbor was able to net the first goal of the match in the 56 minute. JP Rylah was able to make a good run up the right side and played a perfectly placed cross to Yuri Farkas for the chip in. Augestin Rey, once again was solid in goal, but fell victim to the lack of chemistry defensively.
It has been tough to build chemistry for the Torrent this season. The season opener was no different. Due to carry over suspensions, the team was without starters Drew Ruggles, Andrew Wiedabach and Isaac Peryera, as well as head coach Andy Davi. Additionally, due to licensing issues with US Soccer, the team would play Saturday without forwards Alex Stonjanovski, Michael Da-Silva, midfielder Hector Portillo and defender Marco Perez.
The Torrent men displayed good composure after falling behind in the match. The squad continued to play hard and keep their heads up throughout. Last season the team lost out on 12 points in the final minutes of matches. This season they look to play from opening to closing whistle.
“We need to finish with more concentration,” Coach Davi spoke after the match. “If we score first, it’s a completely different match. 0-4 in my opinion is two goals too many because it was a much more even match. The seven players we missed is not an excuse, but it played a big role in today’s outcome.”