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Bateaux FC Open the Season with a Point

The Boats are back, baby. Bateaux FC returned to UPSL action on Sunday (Happy Mother's Day) against Minneapolis City SC's U19 squad, earning their first point of the 2024 season in a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Edor Nelson Field. Though the bulk of the action waited for the second half, there was plenty to like across the full 90. 

The scoreless first half wasn't completely without excitement, as midfielders Josh Balsiger and Liam Junker both found clear chances on goal in the opening 45 minutes. Unfortunately, the first effort went wide, while the second was collected by City’s keeper. 

Both teams took turns playing on the front foot, exerting pressure in an effort to put together a cohesive move, then turning around to defend against the same. A well-officiated game saw clean play all around, but by the time the half rolled around, the match was begging for an opener. 

The hosts didn’t wait much longer to break the deadlock, scoring just two minutes after the restart. A mix-up in the back allowed the Minneapolis City winger to get a free run at goal. Once inside, his cut gave him a clear opportunity to square the ball centrally, ending the move with one more pass and a shot. Fortunately for the visitors, the shot didn’t go as planned. Unfortunately for the visitors, the miscue rolled straight into the path of Hudson Benetiz at the far post, who comfortably finished to put the home side up 1-0. 

Just two minutes later, the hosts thought they’d doubled the lead, but the would-be goal scorer was called offside after finding the back of the net. Bateaux’s back line was disciplined throughout the night, and their communication saved the squad from the one-two punch that could have spelled the end of the match. 

As they pushed to find the equalizer, Eau Claire’s favorite soccer team found a bit of a purple patch for a 20-minute span, creating three clear opportunities between the 50th and 70th minutes. David Ripplinger and Oscar Fernandez-Hydzik were active and wreaking havoc on the Crows back line, and AJ Mittelsteadt’s strike in the 54th minute was called back for an extremely close offside call. 

With both sides having had a goal called back, the match had an extra edge to it. Seeing the ball hit the back of the net is always a psychological boost, even if the goal is nullified. The boys knew they could score; it was just a matter of when. 

In the 78th minute, Charlie Rogers found the ball in the right corner and did well to put in a cross. A well-timed run from Andrew Sutton saw his header stopped by a defender's hand, and while that alone would have been enough for a penalty, Sutton won the loose ball after the handball and was promptly taken down. No matter how you slice it, it was a PK for the visitors. Mittelsteadt stepped up to the spot and smashed the shot into the roof of the net. Though he guessed the right way, City goalkeeper Daniel Sessler never had a chance of saving this one. 

Neither side found a winner in the end, but a well-fought battle likely left both sides satisfied with a point. Your Boats could have easily gotten three road points to start the season, but a solid performance and a draw is nothing to turn your nose up at.

The back three of Eston Eberlein, Kyle Bushendorf, and Matt Folden held a shifty Minneapolis attack to just a single goal in what was a true Michael Jordan flu-game for Bushendorf. Drew Jeffers tormented City’s midfield all game long, and AJ Mittelsteadt battled for the duration of the match, making run after run and keeping his head when he was called upon to score the equalizer. 

Two club debutants performed admirably in their first minutes for the club, with Spencer Banks recording seven saves and 16-year-old Dylan Morosky becoming the youngest player to feature for Bateaux FC in UPSL play. 

All things considered, it was a fantastic start to the season for BFC. The boys will be back in action this Sunday, May 19, for their home opener against Manitou FC. Come on out to Regis Field this weekend; don’t miss our 3:00 p.m. kickoff and the first of our five home UPSL matches in 2024.


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