Match Report - Texas Cup Round 2 @ Austin - May 21st 2016

(Delayed Match Report from Texas Cup @ Austin, May 21st 2016)
The rain continued to deluge like the Falls at Niagara during May, bringing wet weather skills to the fore for Round 2 of the Texas Cup, held on the lush fields at Onion Creek Soccer Complex in South Austin.  Following the Dallas Texas Cup two weeks prior, the Lonestars were keen to build on that experience and further develop their game-plan under the new look coaching team of Rick, Scotty and Maxy.  The Lonestars had plenty of players to draw on brining 39 across on the I-10 so rotations were likely to be many.  Austin had over 40 players to choose from whilst Dallas brought a strong list of around 30 players south.

Game 1 Austin vs Houston

The first hit-out was against Austin, which had a starting line-up as strong as that almost ever seen in the USAFL.  The Div 1 premiers from 2015 had all of their big guns on the park so the Lonestars had to be at their absolute best to compete. For the first 5 mintues the Lonestars played hard at the ball and tried to run with the Crows but were pushed onto the back foot from the outset.  Missing tallmen "Sam’s Brother" Tom and Simon “Make That 2 Kids” Thompson, starting in the ruck was Benny “The Trivia Master” Power who acquitted himself honorably against arguably 2 of the best bigmen in US footy Harley and Coxy. Sharing the ruck work were Josh “The Stats Man” Devlin and Jeff "Jammer" Jamnik rotating via the forward line and bench.  The Lonestars midfield consisting of Perham “Lebron” Dixon, Jessie “Best Dressed” Carcamo and Maxy “The Liguist” Boland were tested early and were able to absorb some of the Austin sting, but found the ball being cleared through overlap after overlap in a strong ball moving display from the Crows.  This put the resolute backline of Sam “Tom's Brother” Donnelly and Seany “Sweatiest Man Alive” Smyth under enormous pressure and soon the Lonestars found themselves 4 goals down.  Rob “Soapy” Sudbay was a shining light in defense consistently putting his body on the line in a bid to cut the flow of oxygen to the Austin bloodstream.  Bud-oomp…..Bud-oomp…..Bud-oomp…….damn heart still beating.  

Please turn your attention to Exhibit A - Zach “They Call Me Diesel” Davis – a fine specimen and fierce competitor who has brought some true grit to the Lonestars since moving back to his hometown this year.  Diesel was resilient on the wing keeping the Lonestars in the game teaming up with Benny “The Trivia Master” Power and Dave “The Man” Restrepo across the middle.  The Lonestars were somewhat able to stem the flow going in at half time 6 goals down and feeling the shock of the Austin electro-therapy.  The huddle was quiet as players and coaches took stock of the prior 20 minutes trying to find it within themselves to turn this ship around.
The second half started similarly to the first with Austin playing out the script they had written for the 2015 Div 1 Nationals Grand Final.  The Lonestars tried desperately to hold firm with entries into their forward half about as frequent as rain in the Sahara and so changes were called.  Dave “Squid” Anastas was switched into the midfield as was Mike “I’ve Got This” Monahan to inject some freshness into an exhausted midfield.  This move had some effect with the ball finding its way into the Lonestars forward line more often and the Lonestars scoring their sole point for the game that should otherwise have translated to a goal or 2.  Lonestars injuries suddenly hit with John “Backyard” Bourke hyper-exntending his knee and full forward Dan “Chalk Bones” Holwerda sustaining a knock to the shoulder taking him out of the game (later to be confirmed as broken (Scientific name) otherwise known as collarbone).  The Lonestars ended the game 12 goals in arrears and a couple of good men down.  Time to rebound….
Scores: Austin 12.6 def. Houston 0.1
Best: B Power, Z Diesel, J Carcamo, S Smyth, D Restrepo, R Sudbay
MOHFAT: Rob Sudbay

Game 2 Houston v Dallas

The disappointment of the defeat in Game 1 was completely erased from the minds of the Lonestars as they instantly geared up to wrestle with the Dallas Magpies in Game 2.  DB “Dicky Knees” was thrown into the middle to tag Dallas midfield engine-man Storesey, along with Maxy “The Liguist” Boland and Jesse “Best Dressed” Carcamo.  The early battle was tight with neither team getting a free run of play and the ball constantly getting locked up in a rugby-like scrum.  "Fit Dave” McVay having scraped himself off his sick-bed to play, bobbed up with strings of first and second efforts to keep the Dallas forwards busy and unable to get clean shots on goal.  Seany ”Sweatiest Man In The Universe” Smyth also thrust himself into every contest across half back despite him giving 6 inches to his opponent.  Dallas finally broke free from the Lonestars bear-grylls grip and got a couple of goals in succession to open the game up and the Lonestars needed to respond.  Matt “The Horse” Parton showed why he is regarded as one of the true up-and-comers at the club providing Jason Dunstall like leads in the forward-line and inspiring 2nd and 3rd efforts to keep the ball in, despite the Lonestars being unable to urge the ball through the big sticks. At half time the Lonestars went in 4 goals down but had plenty of play and were with Dallas for most of the term.
The second half saw a few more changes with “The Greyhound" CDG moved onto the ball and Matt “The General” Stevens marshaling across half-back.  Jeff “Jammer” Jamnik started in the ruck, keen to show the Magpies his Nic Natanui like agility in the middle.  The Lonestars battled hard during the first part of the second quarter with Ahmed “Maradona” Omar getting several possessions along the wing and Dave “The Man” Restrepo pushing up the ground from half-forward and getting involved.  The Magpies being the taller team were dominating the airways but the Lonestars had as much or more of the ball at ground level.  With an arm-wrestle ensuing, sidelined development coach  Dan “Chalk Bones” Holwerda prompted Sean “Sweatiest Man In History" Smyth as the big switch up forward and provide a much needed target on the second kick out of defense.  Sweaty provided a mobile target that straightened the Lonestars up and gave them a sense of purpose in their ball movement. More entries into forward 50 enabled Rick “Man From Adelaide” Veroude slot the only goal for the Lonestars with his customary raking left boot, whilst Matt “The Horse" Parton continued to present as a strong option up forward all day despite not hitting the scoreboard. Dallas finally bagged a couple of late goals to pull away and take the game by 6 goals.  Chris “Fabio” Fielder battled hard on the last line of defense along with Brian “The Club Kiwi” Chisholm applying vice-like pressure across the half-back line at every contest making it difficult for Dallas to get establish much flow all day.  This game was far closer than the scoreboard suggested and the Lonestars felt they very much in the contest throughout.  After 2 tough Texas Cup games, the Lonestars took a break and prepared for the All-comers game against Austin.
Scores: Dallas 7.6 def. Houston 1.2 
Goals: Veroude 1
Best: B Chisholm, C Fielder, J Carcamo, S Smyth, M Parton, B Mahoney, S Donnelly, M Stevens 
MOFHAT: Matt Parton

Game 3 – All-comers (Houston v Austin)

With a deep list making the journey, the Lonestars fielded a good mix of experienced and new players in the final game of the day, taking a couple of Dallas rookies to provide some respite on the bench.  Being a home game for Austin, their list was deep and so fielded a team of 20+.  The game started off resembling the kind of struggle you might see in a pig pen as players from both sides struggled to find rhytm being played in new positions on the field.  The Lonestars were the first to break the game open largely from the explossive attack from the likes of “I Ran Track At College” Fit Dave McVay, Brian “Chris Froome” Chisholm and off half-back Matt “The General” Stevens roaming through the defensive side of centre hitting up Dave “Don’t Play Rugby Anymore” Anastas pushing up in the forward line. Multiple forward entries presented opportunities to score and the flood gates opened with goals from Dave “Squid” Anastas and Dave “The Creature” Restrepo early in the first half.  The Lonestars continued to apply forward pressure and test the Austin defense although couldn’t convert on the scoresheet. Seany “Can’t You Smell Him?” Smyth was resolute in defense rebounding better than a red-hot Dwight Howard and giving the Lonestars open use in transition.  He was ably assisted by Simon “I Still Love N'Orleans” Craig who continued his form from the previous Texas Cup series presenting as a genuine option in the air.  Austin rebounded on a few occasions to score far too easily to keep within reach of the Lonestars late in the first quarter and so the Lonestars went in to half time only a couple of goals in front but had dominated the quarter.
The second term started more evenly as Austin brought in some of their stronger players to help balance the ledger.  They were asissted by some dubious umpiring calls from the part-time Dallas umpire and were getting frustrated having played so well in the first quarter.  Seany “Get Him A Towel For Crying Out Loud!” Smyth continued to be a general in defense, whilst Brian “Who Needs A Car” Chisholm working with “Fitter Than Most Dave” McVay to run the ball out of defense linking up with Ahmed “Maradona” Omar on the wing.  Austin clawed back a couple of goals with help from their more experienced players and found themselves within a goal and getting a sniff of victory.  The Austin bench sensed this and moved handy runner “Frenchy” into the middle in a bid to steal the game.  The Lonestars countered thrusting Dave “I Am Definitely A Lonestar” Anastas onto the ball to stamp out any hope Austin had of winning the stoppage.  The last few minutes turned into an arm-wrestle with the ball rebounded between both teams half forward and half back lines constantly, until Austin broke the Lonestars fortress on the back of some very dramatic circumstances.  Andrew “Blanket” Craig attempting to knock the ball forward with a two-handled paddle over his head was adjudged to have “thrown” the ball giving Austin a free-kick in their forward line.  His remonstration with the umpire including some very pointed expletives was up there with Mark Jackson’s infamous tirade at umpire Peter Cameron in the 1980’s, earning him a yellow card and the remainder of the game on the side lines.
Austin capitalized kicking a goal against the flow with a minute on the clock, putting them a point in front.  The Lonestars had to dig deep.  Coach Ricko “Bill Bellicheck” Veroude on the sidelines was sweating bullets trying to figure out the final play that would result in victory, ensuring his strongest midfield was in the center bounce.  The Lonestars won the clearance and thrust the ball inside 50 to a pack containing Matt “Baby” Leinbaugh and Simon “Actually I Really Like Houston” Craig needing a heroic mark.  They were unable to do so, the ball spilling over the boundary line in the right forward pocket for a throw-in.  At the stoppage, the throw-in was tipped free and Dave “I Told You I Am A Lonestar” Anastas swooped on the ball and kicked across his body from 25 metres out, right through the middle for a sausage roll to put the Lonestars up by 2 points with less than 15 seconds on the clock.  After a see-sawing 5 minutes of footy, this one was finally in the bag.  An exhausted but relieved Lonestars team crawled off the ground to huddle and belt out the Lonestars theme song, which hadn’t made an appearance since the Ruggles Cup victory over Baton Rouge on ANZAC Day.  Despite half the team not being familiar the words, the exhuberant Lonestars did the song proud and turned what was a very tough day up until that point, into a winning celebration.  This was a very positive game for a developing team and gave them confidence in their lead up to the Regional Tournament in Indianapolis in a few weeks.  
Score: Houston 5.10.40 def. Austin 6.2.38
Goals: Unrecorded but likely shared between Anastas, Restrepo, Seany, Brenno, Stevens
Best: D Anastas, M Stevens, S Smyth, D McVay, B Chisholm, S Craig
MOFHAT: S Craig, D McVay
The day was deemed positive despite the losses to Ausin and Dallas in the Texas Cup, fielding the largest away playing list ever assembled outside of Nationals for the club.  A clear sign that the future is bright for the club and that if we keep doing the right things and developing our game plan, we will be very competitive through the remainder of the 2016.  Next week the Lonestars head to Indy for the Central Tournament taking on the likes of Chicago, Ohio Valley and Tulsa in Division 2 in a bid to get some more wins on the board….and maybe some silverware  ; )  
Giddy up Lonestars!!
~ By Dave Bryant