As part of the continued push toward National Premier Soccer League action, the scrimmage against North American Soccer League side San Antonio Scorpions proved just another stepping stone in the growth of a club on an upward path.
Despite the initial disappointment of the delayed kickoff on Friday evening, thanks to the torrential rain, the Pirates sucked it up and moved on.
With an invite to visit San Antonio supporters groups Crocketteers and Alamo City Ultras at their home pub, the Lion and Rose, Friday night was taken care of and new friends were made.
With a revised kickoff time of 9.30 a.m. on Saturday morning and a revised venue of Heroes Stadium, the stage was set for the Galveston Pirate Soccer Club to showcase their new Admiral supplied uniform against NASL opposition.
It was always expected to be a tough tie. Their is, after all two divisions of a difference between the two sides. To be fair, when you look at club finances, facilities and playing staff, Galveston and San Antonio are worlds apart.
What we would give to have a Mexican international player in our ranks. What we would give to have five ex-MLS players in our playing squad. What we would give to have the ability to change our matches to a 11,000 capacity state-of-the-art sports facility.
Although these differences between the two sides, we have no complaints. Galveston's a good squad of players who play well for each other. They have great training facilities with the use of Ballys gym. When they play at Weis Stadium in the NPSL, they have everything they need for a club its size. Also, they have the best players in the area.
With the rain pouring down, the mood hadn't dampened the tailgate party excitement that kicked off at 8 a.m. over at the STAR soccer complex, but when the game kicked off, all pre-match frivolities were forgotten as both players and fans set about playing and supporting their colours.
It was the Scorpions that started the brighter of the two sides with a goal at the five-minute mark. From a route one ball up the field that cleared the Pirate defenders at the back, Pablo Campos was awarded the opportunity to lob from inside the box and saw his effort nestle in the back of the goal.
It wasn't the start that Pirate coach Brendan Keyes has envisaged after a four-hour journey to San Antonio, but he gathered his thoughts and passed on some words of wisdom to his players to keep their heads up and play the way they can.
The first half continued with the home side on the ascendancy. It came as no surprise that they added another goal midway through the first period when Javier Saavedra picked up a clearance from the Pirate defence to slot home, doubling the home side's lead.
It could have been a shock to the system for a Pirate team that had only tasted defeat for the first time since October 2011 last weekend. But with their spirits strong and their bodies willing, they would fight on in this match and never give up.
Both sides were finding the going strange as neither squad of players were used to playing on an artificial turf, but this wasn't going to dampen the exuberance of the players as they continued to battle it out in the rain.
As the first half ended and the players went into the break, coach Keyes was quick to point out to the players that they needed to support the defenders more, move the ball about more quickly and keep control of the ball when in possession.
The players seemed to take this advice on board. For the majority of the second period of play, they matched their opponents, but never really threatened the opposing goalie with any venom.
To their credit as well, they shored up the defence and kept their NASL rivals at bay until a last-minute slip-up that allowed the hosts to add a perhaps undeserved third goal to finish the match 3-0 to the Scorpions.
Coach Keyes said afterwards:
We could make loads of excuses about why we lost: the travelling, the delayed kickoff, playing on artificial turf, not having my full squad available, but we won't. We lost fair and square to the better team. They were far better than us in the first half, and we barely registered a shot on goal. The second half we played much better, but, in the end, I think their superior fitness and higher level players just out-classed us. There are no excuses from us. On the day they were just simply a better team than us, but I'd love another chance at a revenge match back up the road in Galveston sometime on our home soil.
This may have been a great workout for the Pirate team and a great coup in terms of kudos in the soccer fraternity to capture a scrimmage match against an NASL side. But the delayed kickoff has hampered the Pirates run up to Sunday's matches against Barracudas and Islanders.
Looking forward, Keyes said:
We have a four hour drive back up to G-town. And then back out tomorrow morning for our first match at 9 a.m. We then have another game in the afternoon, so it's needless to say that the players will be tired, but we'll give it our best shot. We know both these teams will be tough to beat, but for our club and players to progress, we have to push ourselves to the limit and play the best teams around. That's how we improve as individuals and as a squad.
Coach Keyes also wanted to thanks his hosts for the hospitality saying:
After last night's call off to the match, the San Antonio supporters groups asked us round to the headquarters at the Lion and Rose pub which was great. We met some new friends, exchanged scarves and had some food. It relaxed our players and set us up for the match this morning. Our thanks go out to the guys at Crocketteers, Alamo City Ultras and the Lion and Rose.
Marc Roseblade is a contributor for Bleacher Report, NotJustScottishFootball and works with Ayr United Football Academy & Galveston Pirate Soccer Club in PR/Media roles. All quotes are first hand unless otherwise stated.
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