Led by strong performances by new signee Santi Moar and Philadelphia Union Academy forward Justin McMaster, Bethlehem Steel FC opened its 2017 preseason schedule with a 7-0 win over NPSL side Junior Lone Star FC at YSC Sports.
Despite the difficult scoreline, JLSFC co-head coach Neewilli Saie saw the match as a great opportunity.
“Preseason is like a workshop where coaches and players get to try different ideas. It was an honor playing against the Bethlehem Steel. We certainly did not bring our ‘A’ game yesterday and we were rightfully punished by a better team. We learned lots of lessons yesterday in regards to the level of talent we have and the quality of players. We will go back to the drawing board and reassess our strategy of training, recruitment, and player development for the upcoming season. We have a good team that had a bad performance yesterday. We will analyze where we need improvement and look forward to the next preseason game against Wilmington University on April 1st.”
Moar and McMaster led the scoring attack for Steel FC, each scoring a pair of goals in each half. The first half saw Yosef Samuel score added by Moar’s brace to give Steel FC a 3-0 lead. The second half saw the squad showcase its depth with numerous substitutions as McMaster’s brace was added to goals from Seku Conneh and Chris Nanco.
Josh Heard led the team with three assists for Steel FC, while Amoy Brown come off the bench and assisted on a second half goal.
Steel FC dominated possession leading the numerous scoring chances while the defense stood tall to limit the Stars and seal the shutout.
Steel FC opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with Moar finding space outside the 18-yard box. The Spanish forward delivered a hard low shot from distance to open the scoring for the hosts. The goal gave confidence for the 23-year-old as eight minutes later, Moar added another. Moar fought for space and headed home a cross from Heard that doubled the Steel FC lead.
With halftime looming, Steel FC added another goal as Heard delivered a low cross that was tapped past the Stars keeper by Yosef Samuel.
The final 45 minutes saw head coach Brendan Burke instruct his team to continue their possessive and attacking style, helping deliver another three goal half. Seku Conneh opened the final half goals with a curling shot after receiving a perfectly placed ball from Heard.
In the second half, Junior Lone Star played on the counter-attack and created few chances. Anthony Allison, their top scorer from last season, had a one-on-one chance to reduce the score line to 3-1, but Steel FC substitute goalkeeper Jahmali Waite made a great save.
After a group substitution, McMaster showcased his speed with a pair of goals minutes apart. McMaster’s first goal came after Brown beat the Stars’ defender and goalkeeper that set up a finish from McMaster. The Union Academy forward then followed up with another goal minutes later, scoring in the bottom left corner.
Philadelphia Union draft pick Chris Nanco rounded out the Steel FC scoring attack on a counter attack late in the match, going upper 90 with a hard finish.
JLSFC also had two goals that were ruled out for offsides.
Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke was quite pleased with the overall result.
“We’re very happy with the effort we put into the game yesterday. It was a fitness exercise for us and we checked all of the boxes in that regard. It gives us a good foundation to build on in the preseason.”