Photo: Michael Reeves
A late goal saw Bethlehem Steel FC fall 2-1 to a disciplined University of Notre Dame side on a wind-bitten afternoon at YSC Sports.
The Steel controlled much of the first half thanks to the holdup play of trialist Chris Wingate and creative attacking of Santi Moar, Adam Najem, and Marcus Epps. Wingate, a 2017 third round draft pick of NYCFC, did well to relieve pressure and link play throughout his 90-minute appearance.
Notre Dame’s well-drilled team shape made it difficult for the Steel to find space until a Najem through ball gave Epps a look on goal in the 33rd minute. Epps took one touch and drilled the ball into the back of the net.
Some poor giveaways led to a spell of Notre Dame possession in the Steel half, and an unnecessary foul gave the Fighting Irish a free kick twenty yards out. Junior striker Jon Gallagher took it well to put it past Steel keeper (and recent Union signee) Jake McGuire. The half ended 1-1.
Bethlehem subbed out much of the midfield and defense around the 60th minute, pushing Santi Moar from the wing into a central midfield role where he looked comfortable and ambitious on the ball. The Steel again controlled the match, with substitute Amoy Brown testing the keeper several times, but were unable to find an opening through Notre Dame’s staunch back line.
Some nice Notre Dame counterattacking in the 88th minute saw a brilliant ball put Gallagher in on goal. Defenders Hugh Roberts and Obinna Illoka stepped up looking for an offside call, but the linesman’s flag stayed down and Gallagher deftly slid it past McGuire. Bethlehem was unable to conjure any late magic and the match ended 2-1 in Notre Dame’s favor.
- Pretty close to the real lineup: This was just about a starting 11 for the Steel. The familiarity and continuity of the regular group showed through the first sixty minutes.
- Najem balls again: Adam Najem was again the standout of the day, covering the entire park to find the ball and create opportunity after opportunity. He, along with other standouts Santi Moar and Marcus Epps, will be a menace for USL defenses all season.
- Burke needs more: The Union’s USL affiliate mimicked the Union quite well. The team’s 4-2-3-1 shape proved diligent on defense and attacked well with the midfielders. But like their big brother, the Steel were unable to give forward Corey Burke any looks on goal.
BSFC – Epps (Najem) 33’
ND – Gallagher 42’
ND – Gallagher 88’
Bethlehem Steel: Jake McGuire, Charlie Reymann, Auston Trusty (Obinna Illoka 60’), Hugh Roberts, Aaron Jones (Matt Mahoney ‘60), Chris Wingate, Jason McLean (Amoy Brown 45’), Adam Najem (Chris Nanco), Santi Moar, Marcus Epps (Jason McLean 60’), Corey Burke (Josh Heard 80’).