WICHITA WINGS DEFEAT THE DEMIZE
EXHIBITION GAME GIVES TRAINING PLAYERS TIME TO SHINE, AS WICHITA WINGS DEFEAT THE DEMIZE
The Demize were on a winning streak and looking for a fight. The Springfield team rocketed to Wichita and were quick to get on the scoreboard - but a patient and more experienced Wichita Wings kept their cool and got the win with an explosive fourth quarter.
The Springfield Demize are members of the PASL (Premiere Arena Soccer League) which was previously known as the Federation of Sports Arenas. The teams play in regional competition to keep travel costs to a minimum and they made the trek to Wichita with the goal of taking down the second-place MASL2 team and putting themselves firmly on the professional indoor soccer map.
"The Demize were a good team. They were undefeated and are used to winning, obviously. We knew they would be a tough challenge," said Coach Roger Downing. "The crowd was great, especially for an exhibition game. We love every crowd we have, but the energy was on a different level."
The Wings fielded several of their training players in the match and backup goalkeeper Aaron Parrott guarded the net and made several specatcular saves. Like the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, the team was behind, 4-5 heading into the fourth quarter - which was later hailed by many fans as one of the best quarters of soccer they'd yet watched.
The rough and tumble game saw several Demize yellow cards for misconduct and a rough tackle early in the fourth left Leo Sosa injured on the field and he limped off to the bench to applause. The Wings set up a corner kick with no luck in the back of the net, but another small scuffle led to a third misconduct, 5-minute, call on the Demize. The Wings converted on the restart with a shot from Nico to tie the game, followed by the go-ahead goal from Kevin Ten Eyck before many fans had time to take their seats.
A goal by Matt Sherrod was quickly followed by Ryan Swiggart, who brought the score to 8-5.
You don't recognize that name? Local player, Swiggart, is a hard working member of the training team. And despite it being his first time in the orange kit, his coach isn't surprised by his work ethic and the goal.
"Swiggart made the team through our open tryouts at the beginning of the year," said Downing. "He has easily been the most improved player on our roster. He never misses a training, conditioning, or appearance. He’s a Wing through-and-through and it was great he got a shot to play last night."
It was a dream come true for Swiggart.
"It meant a lot to me to be able to suit up and wear the Wings logo," said Swiggart. But that goal? It made his debut even better.
"The experience of scoring a goal in front of the greatest fans in indoor soccer is indescribable," Swiggart said. "I was so ecstatic to be able to score for all the fans who dedicate their time and money into coming and seeing us play. I fortunately had a great fan base of family and friends there supporting me Saturday night and all I knew was that I needed to head straight to section 104 to celebrate with everyone who has always believed in me and supported me."
Training players might not always - or ever - take the field in orange, but they are a crucial part of the Wichita Wings machine.
"As a training player you are responsible for pushing the first team players every practice. Training players are responsible for putting in the hard hours at practice and conditioning with no real reward of having a game day. Training players are players who are good enough to push the starters, but may not be experienced enough for playing time. Training players show up every day for practice ready to work hard and hoping for a shot, one day, at seeing the field," said Swiggart.
Swiggart hopes he can continue to work under Coach Downing as a Wing.
"I hope to be able to wear the Wings logo for a long time. My goals are to keep pushing myself at practice to be able to be a vital player for the team," Swiggart said.
After Swiggart's goal and the celebration that followed from family and fans alike, simultaneous 2-minute penalties put a player from each squad in the box a the end of the raucous match - leaving lots of room on the field to manuever. Neither team took advantage and the game ended with a score of 8-5.
Next weekend brings Falls Town to Hartman Arena for a Sunday match. The game follows two days of celebration that includes the premier of the documentary "God Save the Wings" along with the Hall of Fame ceremony and dinner. Coach Downing said he hopes the current Wings can have a bit of time with the veterans.
"All the guys will enjoy stories from the vets I’m sure, that’s what I’m looking forward to the most. Any chance you get to hear an old vet tell a war story, you should listen. That goes for every aspect of life," said Downing.
Tickets still remain for the Falls Town match and are available at Hartman Arena in Park City and via Ticketmaster.