By: Jill Wunrow
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Exhibition play is a time for players to reacquaint themselves with their teammates in a game situation, adjust to new coaches' styles and play opponents typically from other conferences or divisions but sometimes with familiar faces. Such was the case on all levels in the Green Bay men's soccer 3-1 exhibition opening win against UW-Parkside Thursday, Aug. 16 at Aldo Santaga Stadium.
"Whenever you have a new team, it's not going to always gel right away and it took us about 45 minutes to regroup at halftime and really talk things out and get moving in the second half," said Green Bay first-year head coach Dan Popik. "We had better effort, better passes and were just sharper in the second half and we just need to continue to improve on that."
After falling behind 1-0 early in the first half, senior transfer Whitney Browne (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) took the corner kick for Green Bay less than three minutes into the second half. Defrim Ramushevski (South Milwaukee, Wis.) kept the ball alive from the right side of the box while finding Sam Krenzien (Wauwatosa, Wis.) on the doorstep in the lower left corner. Krenzien headed the ball into the net for the goal.
The defender Krenzien beat on his game-tying goal was a very familiar face, his brother Andrew. The Krenzien brothers have played against each other a few times in the past during summer games but Thursday's exhibition opener was the first time they had battled at the collegiate level.
Every time there was a corner kick, Sam and Andrew would mark each other. No words were necessary on who had the upper hand when the clock hit zero.
"He hasn't said anything yet about the goal other than he kind of admitted he should have done better so I'll take that as a compliment," said Sam. "It was a fun, pride-kinda game with bragging rights on the line."
Three minutes after Green Bay's first goal, freshman Cheenuj Shong (Milwaukee, Wis.) was on the receiving end of a pass down the middle of the field from Krenzien. Shong dribbled past an aggressive defender and scored the 2-1 go-ahead goal for the Phoenix.
"Cheenuj came in and gave us a spark," Popik said. "He's a very quick, dynamic player that created a lot of problems for their outside backs."
Green Bay's final goal came in the 65th minute when Browne found freshman Chris Whalen (Appleton, Wis.) from the far left side of the box, allowing Whalen to score the header goal while falling out of bounds.
The Phoenix outshot the Rangers 18-10 and 4-3 on corner kicks. Alonso Flores (Chicago, Ill.) led Green Bay with four shots while Browne and Shong each added three.
"I wanted to see the guys come out and play as a team while trying some different things out to see what will prepare us for Northern Kentucky," said Popik. "I wanted them to come out and have a professional attitude and have a professional performance and we did that tonight."
SLIGHT SCARE... Green Bay had a bit of a scare early in the contest when Parkside took a shot that was saved by senior keeper Ryan Wehking (St. Louis, Mo.) who bumped his head on the goal post in the process. The game was delayed 10 minutes while Wehking went through a series of concussion tests on the sidelines before being cleared to reenter.
The Phoenix coaching staff, both of which are former goalkeepers, were a bit nervous about Wehking's return, especially with no backup keeper for the contest.
"Yeah," said Popik nervously laughing. "We had a few guys warming up trying to catch some balls on the sideline and the situation definitely got my nerves up a little bit but I was so thankful that Ryan was cleared and Parkside allowed us the time to run the tests."
EXHIBITION FINALE... The Phoenix hosts St. Joseph's College in its final exhibition game Saturday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. at Aldo Santaga Stadium. Green Bay kicks off its 2012 regular season play with three home games beginning with Northern Kentucky Friday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m.
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