QUINCY -- Quincy High School senior Bromley Brown missed the first three games of the boys soccer season due to a medical issue, and the Blue Devils lost all three in close fashion.
Brown made his debut on Tuesday when he was subbed in early in the first half of QHS's home opener against Western Big Six Conference opponent Moline, and his impact was immediately felt.
"It felt amazing," Brown said. "I haven't been out here on the field running or anything like that for about a week and a half now so I was just excited to come out here and play with my team."
The Blue Devils picked up their offensive intensity and flow, which led to better looks even though the ball still couldn't find the back of the net. After the Maroons took a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute, QHS turned up the pressure and eventually got the equalizer on a Moline own-goal which was caused by pressure from Brown and freshman Carter Venvertloh in the 61st minute.
Andrew VanderMaiden scored the go-ahead goal in the 68th minute off an assist from Brown, and the Blue Devils beat Moline 2-1 for their first victory of the season.
The spark Brown brought was quantifiable on many levels.
"He wasn't selfish the whole time. He played a lot of balls through like the assist he had for me," VanderMaiden said. "He could have been selfish and shot it, but he looked for other people, and that was nice."
It wasn't Brown's goal to get in the game and bring his own numbers up.
"I wanted to just bring as much energy as I could," he said. "Work as a team, play smart, just everything we work on in practice bring it to the game to lift up our boys."
Of the first three losses for Quincy (1-3, 1-0 WB6), two came on penalty kicks after the Blue Devils failed to score enough in regulation. The defensive back line and midfield have been solid early on, but it was the little touches in the front line that Brown provides that QHS was missing.
"The thing that he brings is just a vision of the field that allows him to make passes and connect with kids that maybe wouldn't be seen," Blue Devils coach Ron Bridal said. "That in itself is going to allow us to get behind their back line a little bit more, and his work ethic tonight was super. With those two things, he was dynamite."
Moline took the lead on a free kick from Jared Raber beyond midfield that Isaac Ruiz just got enough of his head on to go over the outstretched arms of QHS goalkeeper Frank Heck and roll into the net. Battling back from a goal like that can be a tough challenge, but the Blue Devils proved up to it.
"Ultimately what we can't give them is the heart," Bridal said. "They showed that after coming back from that first goal going down. So kudos to the boys."
With the way Maroons goalkeeper Carson Klavohn was playing, the 1-0 lead might have been enough to stand if not for the own goal. Klavohn had six saves and was pitching a shutout before the errant goal off his own defender.
"I say kudos to their goalkeeper and kudos to their entire team," Bridal said. "That's a really strong team and we are really pleased to beat a team of that caliber."
The win helps erase the feelings from the 0-3 start and sets up the Blue Devils to continue gaining strength.
"We've played four games and we are 1-3, but three of the four games we've played well," Bridal said. "As I said to the boys tonight, we are probably one of the best 0-3 teams in the state coming into this one. We have little doubt on our part in terms of our ability to be successful this season."