Sunday saw the Pirate back in action on the field with a pre-NPSL-season scrimmage against a Galveston Premier Select side.
As time flies past like the sands of time, just over 30 days remain until the big KO at Weis Stadium in Galveston to kick-start the all-talked-about, all-hyped-up National Premier Soccer League season.
This season within the HFA has seen more twists and turns than a snake paddling through water. The constant strain of playing a combination of league and several cup competitions seemed to have taken its toll on a tired looking Pirate side during the month of March.
However, with a free weekend last week, it appeared enough to recharge the batteries of many of the players as Sunday's arranged scrimmage against the GPS showed.
With renewed vigour and energy, the Pirate bit into this Galveston Premier League Select side from the beginning, but had to come from behind to manage it, and manage it they did.
It was the first of two hat-trick heroes who stepped up first, as Taylor Lubianski scored the equalizer for his team with a well-struck shot from 10 yards out. Lubianski only needed three more minutes before adding his second after meeting a cross from Eric Cruz to make the score 2-1.
Despite a few more chances in the first 45 minutes, no more goals were to be scored—but that wasn't to be the case in the second period as the goal fest began.
The players had been linking well together, and it was all one-way traffic as the game marched on. This was morale boosting for the players involved, but they needed to turn possession into goals, which they readily did.
Lubianski added his third with a cracking header to the top corner, giving him a "real"' hat-trick and also his first for the Pirate side.
The lead was a well-deserved one, and the NPSL-bound players were looking hungry as they stroked the ball forward. You could tell they wanted more from this game, and they had the select side exactly where they wanted them.
Greyhound-like Bryan Mann was next up to bulge the net after scoring a beauty by rounding the defender before blasting home, making the score 4-1. Like Lubianski before him, Mann was dominating his area and looked likely to score at every attempt.
The Pirate were playing some great passes through to Mann as he continued to speed forward—one of which led to his second goal and the Pirate's fifth.
With a nicely weighted through ball, a 50-meter foot race began between Mann and an unfortunate select defender. It was like a Pinto trying to catch a Ferrari. The poor defender was left in Mann's dust as they chased the ball with the Pirate attacker latching onto the pass, rocketing a shot home to make it 5-1 with the best goal of the game.
The game had never really looked in doubt, and with the introduction of new players Steven and Cesar, the Pirate started to flex their attacking muscles even more in the final stages of the match.
But for some fine goalkeeping by the select goalie, the score line would most certainly have reached double figures.
The select side dragged a rather soft and dubious goal back after the referee pointed to the penalty spot. "It appeared more that the player tripped over the ball without a challenge being made" said Pirate coach Keyes after the game. "But it's a friendly, I won't make a fuss over it."
The spot kick was duly slotted home to make it 5-2, but no one was under any illusion about the outcome of the game.
The Pirate were soon awarded a penalty of their own shortly after Steven was taken down in the area, with Mann stepping up to take the responsibility of scoring his hat-trick and his side's sixth goal, which he gunned home with no real resistance from the keeper.
In a bizarre twist at the end, the man in the middle awarded the select side another penalty, which was hammered home to end the game 6-3 for the Pirate crew.
This was a good win for the Pirate, with both Lubianski and Mann managing hat-tricks as they continue their push towards being fighting fit for the upcoming challenges ahead.
Afterwards, Brendan Keyes said, "The Pirate preseason started today. The Galveston Premier League put a team of the best players from the top sides to take us on and we defeated them. It was a good game and a good test for our players."
"The goals were superb. A hat-trick for both Lubianski and Mann is brilliant and will really help with their confidence. I told Bryan before the game that I believed in him as a player but he needed to believe in himself. He has the ability to play at this level and he proved that today as he stepped up his game and scored a superb three goals."
"We have State Cup action next weekend followed by games against Elite and AFC Dynamo before heading back into the excitement of US Open Cup qualifying at the end of the month. It'll be a real roller coaster for the next three weeks for sure." Keyes rounded off.
The Pirate's opening NPSL match takes place at Weis Stadium on May 11th vs. America USA FC, with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Marc Roseblade is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
You can follow Marc on Twitter @myscottishfitba
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