The Ponies participated in the 16th Annual Minnesota-Wisconsin Tournament on Friday and Saturday in suburban Milwaukee and posted a 0-1-1 record against two perennial strong programs from the Badger State.
Stillwater fell to Cedarburg 1-0 in Friday’s opener before playing Brookfield East to a 1-all tie on Saturday to cap a stretch of three games in as many days. Ponies players, who traveled with Wisconsin neighbor Hudson, were hosted by the families of Cedarburg players on Friday night.
“In both games, we were under physical and mental high pressure,” Ponies coach Phil Johnson said. “It was a great environment to find out how tough we were. We played two complete games and the teamwork and effort was our best of the year. The boys have come from this trip with a great belief in their abilities and each other. Many good soccer lessons were learned. It was a challenging schedule and tough soccer teams, but this process has proved to the team that they can play at a high level.”
In the other games, Hudson lost to Brookfield East 3-0 on Friday and tied Cedarburg 1-all on Saturday. Stillwater is scheduled to host the Raiders on Thursday.
Stillwater 1, Brookfield East 1
At Brookfield, making the long ride back home more palatable, Stillwater scored with less than four minutes remaining to earn a tie with the Spartans on Saturday.
Patrick Roth scored the tying goal after heading a crossing pass from Nathan Purdie in the 36th minute. The free kick by Purdie was the result of Jared Allen getting fouled on the left flank and the Ponies took advantage.
“We depended heavily on our bench in the game,” Johnson said. “This was our third game in three days and all the games were at a high level. We had some small injuries and tired bodies.”
The Spartans struck first in the 25th minute of the first half after firing a shot from inside the box past goalkeeper Ben Wilhelm.
Vince Anderson also played in goal for the Ponies and was tested almost immediately by a breakaway, but his diving stop helped energize the team in the second half.
“Cole Bardwell was effective in the attack, as well as Ryan Dopkins,” Johnson said. “Coming in to help greatly on the flanks were Max Boedigheimer and Jeff Canterbury at midfield. James Menzies and Brett Balder stepped up in the defense under great attacking pressure from Brookfield East’s determined attack. Toshi Tsering came into the central mid to keep the possession flowing and step into the passing lanes of Brookfield’s passes.”
Stillwater 0 1 — 1
Brookfield East 1 0 — 1
Cedarburg 1, Stillwater 0
At Cedarburg, a strong effort by the Ponies defensively was spoiled when Cedarburg scored in the 29th minute of the second half to hand Stillwater its first loss of the season on Friday night.
The Bulldogs scored the game-winner on a long, high free kick that soared past goalkeeper Ben Wilhelm. Stillwater created opportunities, especially in the first half, but was unable to finish while getting blanked for the first time all season.
“It was a fast-paced game with attacks going into each box,” Johnson said. “We stepped up quickly on tackles and transitioned in the attack well, especially in the first half. We had some close chances on their goal, but nothing went in. It was a physical, but fair, game.”
The coach credited defenders Kevin Meads, Matt Lagus, Charlie Farrington and Sam Keran with strong performances while midfielders Nathan Purdie and Roman Devine were busy on both sides of the ball in the midfield.
“They were constantly changing the point of our attack and maintaining our possession,” Johnson said of Purdie and Devine. “The work of our outside mids and forward kept pressing the attack, but our final touch never got past the keeper.”
Stillwater 0 0 — 0
Cedarburg 0 1 — 1