We have a new guest writer to introduce! Justin Wasik is a Chicago soccer aficionado and a writer on a variety of platforms. He’s also a West Ham supporter, which gives he and Danny something in common: they both love watching their Premier League club lose all their matches.
In any case, here’s Justin’s first appearance at smallworld with a timely recap of yet another successful season for history-laden Bavarians SC:
One of the most historic amateur soccer clubs in North America has already made its mark on the Midwest Premier League. Bavarians Soccer Club won the first-ever West Division championship, beating Chicago-based rival RWB Adria 2-1.
The last match of the season for both teams ended up being a makeshift final of sorts, with both clubs able to win the title on the final day.
Adria had a three-point lead over Bavarians heading into the match, so a draw was all they needed to be champions. Bavarians, however, could still win the title with a victory over Adria given their superior goal differential.
The talent was on full display as undoubtedly the two best teams in the West Division battled it out in a match full of high-quality play. Bavarians got on the board in the first half and took that lead into halftime.
“I thought the first half we played really well,” Bavarians head coach Patrick Hodgins said. “We had a lot of the ball, dictated the tempo, and got a nice goal. [We were] unfortunate to not get a second, but we kept them without any real clean looks in the first half.”
While it was a clean, well-played first half, the second half was anything but. Within the first 60 seconds, RWB Adria received a penalty off a handball in the box and slotted the spot-kick home to even the score. Suddenly, Adria was the team in prime position to win the title.
Both teams created a few good chances throughout, but it was another hand-ball penalty call that would be the talking point of the match. This time, Bavarians were on the receiving end, with captain Bret Dietz calmly sending the Adria keeper the wrong way, grabbing the lead for Bavarians once again.
“All you can ask for is the ref to be fair both ways,” Dietz said. “I think [both penalties] were soft, but I’m happy they evened out.”
The lead Dietz regained was one Bavarians would not relinquish. Adria could not get anything going in the final 15 minutes as the Bavarians defense hunkered down for the first-ever West Division title.
Bavarians put themselves in a position to win the title on the final matchday despite an uncharacteristic 1-0 defeat to Cedar Rapids Inferno the week before.
A win in that game would have allowed Bavarians to be the side that only needed a draw to win the title. Instead, they needed to collect all three points against Adria to lift the trophy.
While Bavarians did not make it easy on themselves in the last couple weeks of the season, the fact they were still able to win the title on goal differential speaks volumes to some of the excellent results they had earlier in the season.
That goal differential was helped by some lopsided wins, including 8-0 over Union Dubuque and a 5-0 victory over Berber City. All of those goals were needed, as Bavarians ended up having just a three-goal differential better than Adria.
When asked for some of the key reasons for their success this Midwest Premier League season, the common denominator amongst the Bavarians coaches and players seemed to be team camaraderie.
“We have a very experienced group who played a lot of games together,” Hodgins said. “When everyone is together and playing, we are very hard to beat.”
Dietz echoed his coach’s sentiment saying, “I think the biggest difference [in the final] is [Adria] pay their players. We’re proud we don’t have to do that. Our guys come to play and train because we love the game and we love each other.”
Overall, the Midwest Premier League’s inaugural season was a success. Many clubs around the league were surprised with and praised the high level of quality and competitiveness on the pitch.
“The [Midwest Premier League] season, overall, was really good,” Hodgins said. “It was very organized from top to bottom and we look forward to the opportunity of playing some new clubs in the future.”
The night of the final was bittersweet for the Bavarians, especially for Hodgins. While his team won the inaugural Midwest Premier League West Division, the nine-year Bavarians head coaching veteran also announced he was calling it quits as head coach of the club.
“That is 100 percent accurate,” Hodgins said when asked if that was his last game. “I’ve been very fortunate to coach this team since 2012. It’s my second home. But now, my journey is taking me to my family. We have a baby on the way, so my time is needed with my wife and family.”
The rest of the club will surely miss him too. “Pat does not get enough credit for everything he does for this club, for our team, for the guys,” captain Bret Dietz said.
Director Tom Zaiss also could not say enough about Hodgins’ role with the club. “[Pat] is a great leader and puts in a tireless amount of time every day to make our club and players better. Pat is definitely taking a break for the fall but will hopefully be involved in some capacity in the spring.”
What will Hodgins miss most? “The guys, man. The guys are great. The success we’ve had since 2016 has been unmatched nationally. These guys are the ones that have done it all. They’ve shown up for training. They show up, fight, and never quit. And I could not be prouder of a group of guys.”
His players certainly showed up for training and games throughout the entire Midwest Premier League season. And last weekend, they showed up for a West Division title.
– @ Rockford W 3-2
– @ Chicago Athletic W 2-0
– v Union Dubuque 8-0
– @ Diablos 3-3
– v Steel City W 4-1
– v Berber City W 5-0
– v Mustangs W 1-0
– v Edgewater Castle W 4-1
– @ Dekalb County W 4-2
– @ Cedar Rapids L 1-0
– v Adria W 2-1