Direwolves Take Shine Off of Emeralds
This highly anticipated match between the Emeralds and Direwolves did not disappoint. The hype around this game even drew one of the beautiful game’s biggest stars, David Villa. Intimidated by the talent on display in the TCL, Señor Villa chose to make a swift exit before kickoff. His presence was felt nonetheless.
Substitute Fernando Ayala drew inspiration from the little Spaniard early on picking off a pass in front of the Emeralds goal and forcing a solid save out of keeper Brad Hughes. In trying to fire home the rebound, Fernando was met by a timely challenge from the immovable force that is Dave Ashton and was forced to leave the game with a knee injury.
Determined to avenge the selfless substitute who put his body on the line, Dale Burgess unleashed a rocket from just inside the Emeralds half to open the scoring. The rest of the half saw chances from both sides that were handled with confidence by both keepers. 1-0 Direwolves at halftime.
Both teams started the second half well organized and full of energy. With neither team allowing the opposition too many chances, Theo Blanchard created his own by beating his marker and making a surging run up the wing. Theo’s low cross was too quick for a defending Victor Cristiano to prevent from careening off his outstretched body into his own goal doubling the Direwolves lead. Not to be outdone, Victor got his revenge off an Emeralds corner in which he fired in a cross that ricocheted in off of the Direwolves’ own Dale Burgess. 2-1 Direwolves.
With the Direwolves’ lead cut in half and time winding down, the Emeralds pushed further up the field looking to even the score. The Direwolves defense withstood the mounting opposition attacks and sprung a counter attack by second string substitute Andrew Winnett. Winnett was able to pass the ball around an oncoming Brad to Theo who finished calmly.
Final score: Direwolves 3 – Emeralds 1. This result keeps the Direwolves top of the table and sets the stage for a blockbuster fall final with the second place Lightning next week.
Vaders Beat Bulls
The match kicked off with an advantage in ball possession from Red Bulls, who managed to control the game in the early going. It was the Vaders who would strike first, with Vlad taking a volley pass from Bob, and sliding a low shot into the back of the net. Rejuvenated by the quick score, the Vaders would strike twice more on the goals by Usama and on a Red Bulls’ own goal (credited to Winnett).
In keeping with the holiday tradition of giving, shortly before half-time, Vaders’ keeper Frank gifted one for the ages by clearing the ball straight to John Altinian just outside the box. The Red Bulls striker promptly blasted the ball top shelf… 3:1 Vaders at half-time.
The second half opened with more pressure from the Red Bulls. It was Altinian who took matters into his own hands, blasting a low hard shot to the left of Frank. Alimena had to exhibit his trademark cat-like reflexes, just getting enough of the ball with his foot, kicking it out of bounds. Altinian would not be denied though, finishing with a casual hat-trick.
Andrew “el Mago” Winnett would bury the winner on a counter attack by Vaders, via a superb kick off the cross bar and in… While the Barons would get one more, the Vaders take this thrilling affair: 4:3.
Lightning Double-up on Nightmares
What a Nightmare! It was a horrifying start for the undermanned Lightning as they quickly fell behind by 2 goals as the Nightmare jumped out to 2-0 and 3-1 leads. When the reinforcements arrived, the Lightning were able to play a more aggressive style righting the ship to finish the half 3-3 tie.
The 1st goal of the second half came as a result of a controversial call against defender Neil Bisset for dangerous play in the box. The Lightning were awarded a penalty kick which Seamus Lynott placed squarely in the back of the net.
From that moment on Lightning played with renewed confidence, the Nightmare weren’t able to regain their composure and the game finished with the Lightning victorious.
Aaron St. Bernard