In the world of sports, that phrase often comes with a negative connotation, with the underlying reality of a team receiving an “education” from their opponent and ultimately coming up short.
In the case of the newly formed St. Croix Legends, the USL League Two embodiment of longtime Twin Cities youth club St. Croix SC, they’re leaving Des Moines and their season-opener against the Menace with far more positive takeaways than normally come from a 6-2 defeat.
The first being, they competed.
For nearly an hour, the Legends were neck-and-neck with the defending national champions, even landing a major punch with two early goals to take a 2-0 lead that left the Menace announce team nearly speechless.
The Legends’ opening goal came in the 9th minute on a lovely first-time finish from Telvin Vah that found the bottom corner off an aerial counterattack.
Vah would earn a brace and double the lead just 10 minutes later, with another quality right-footed shot with precision and pace that beat the Des Moines keeper and silenced Valley Stadium.
The Menace almost immediately began to find their footing after that 2nd goal, as a 20th-minute foul in the box gave Des Moines their opportunity to get on the board from the spot, and Eliot Goldthorp buried it.
In the 43rd minute, the Menace would equalize in grand style. Off a corner, Fernando Garcia fired off a scissor kick that former WWE superstar Booker T would be proud of (sorry to the non-wrestling fans out there, but seriously Google him) and perfectly placed it into the top corner.
While the home side would gain the lions share of the possession in the 2nd half, St. Croix held strong and kept the match level as the clock approached the hour mark, but that’s when things began to fall apart.
Menace goals in the 58′, 67′, 80′, and 89′ secured the runaway victory and left the visitors with a sour taste in their mouths after such a promising start.
Even so, another positive learning experience came in the form of the St. Croix youth that saw valuable pitch time.
A prime example of this is 16-year old Jacob Dinzeo, a St. Croix academy product. Dinzeo will be a junior at Hill-Murray high school this fall, but is getting a highly useful education with the competition he’s on the field with this summer.
Any time you take on a new challenge and do something for the first time, there’s going to be that learning curve. For St. Croix Legends, Saturday night showed that they may be further along that curve than most predicted.