Rookie Santi Moar and Philadelphia Union Academy forward Justin McMaster each chipped in a pair of goals and three others found the back of the net in Bethlehem Steel FC’s 7-0 win over Junior Lone Star FC in their first preseason friendly at YSC Sports Wednesday afternoon.
Moar, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Union out of Division II Pfeiffer University and spent time training with the first team in Florida, opened the scoring in the 22nd minute on a hard liner from outside the 18 and doubled the lead eight minutes later when he headed home a Josh Heard cross.
Heard found space again on the right side right before halftime when he set Yosef Samuel up for an off-balance flick that beat the keeper and made it 3-0 going into the break.
Head coach Brendan Burke stuck with his starting XI - which included trialist goalkeeper Billy Heavner (Landisville, Pa.), trialists Matt Mahoney and Charlie Reman as outside backs and Josue Monge and Mark McKenzie from the academy ranks - through the better part of an hour. But after Heard delivered his third assist of the day to set up Seku Conneh, he subbed in a whole new XI consisting primarily of players from the academy.
Junior Lone Star had their best chance just moments after the substitutions but academy goalkeeper Jahmali Waite made a fine save with his foot in a one v one chance to keep the clean sheet intact. The local National Premier Soccer League club would create a pair of other dangerous chances in the half but both were snuffed out by the lineman’s flag.
No stranger to Steel fans, McMaster used his speed to twice punish the Lone Star defense with darting runs to the far post - the first off a perfectly placed cross from Amoy Brown and the second off a diagonal ball from academy teammate Nykolas Sessock, who started the play with a run forward from his right back spot. On both, McMaster had easy tap-in finishes thanks to a combination of his perfectly timed runs and pinpoint deliveries from teammates.
With the lead 6-0, Philadelphia Union draft pick Chris Nanco added one more exclamation point when he received a pass inside the 18 from academy midfielder Dawson McCartney and fired a shot that beat the keeper to his right.
“We’ve been talking about defending so we were happy to keep a clean sheet,” Burke said after the game. “I thought we had the game well under control from the standpoint of managing space when we didn’t have the ball and pressing the ball out of them quickly.”
The match, played in spring-like weather, was the second between the two teams. Steel FC won 5-1 last year.
While perhaps not evident in the score line, the local NPSL club best known as Union midfielder Derrick Jones former club was hardly a pushover in their first preseason game of the year.
“I think they do great work and even on a day like today they’re still playing the right way with intensity and they kept their shape for the most part and were still creating counter attacking type situations for us,” Burke said.
For Moar, who was the first of the Union’s 2017 SuperDraft class to sign with the organization when he inked a USL deal, Wednesday’s friendly marked his first time playing with his new teammates in a game environment.
“The goals we scored were based off the work of the team,” the Spaniard said. “It was a good exercise to get out and play with each other.”
Bethlehem Steel won’t be traveling too far for their next preseason match with a visit to Higgins Soccer Complex for a game against Villanova University on March 1, at 4 p.m.
Starting XI: GK Billy Heavner* / RB Matt Mahoney* / LB Charlie Reymann* / CB Mark McKenzie# / CB Hugh Roberts / MF James Chambers / MF Yosef Samuel / MF Josue Monge# / MF Santi Moar / MF Josh Heard / F Seku Conneh
Second XI: GK Jahmali Waite# / RB Nykolas Sessock# / LB Matt Real / CB Freeman Dwamena# / Evan Godfrey# / MF Alex Happi* / MF Dawson McCartney# / MF Darius Lewis# / MF Chris Nanco / MF Justin McMaster / F Amoy Brown
Substitutes: F Tiger Graham# / MF Kalil ElMedkhar# / MF Omar Ayala#
# Academy player