On Wednesday September 7th, the Scarlet Raiders battled hard against Merchant Marines to register their first home win of the 2011 season at the first attempt. Diego Morales’ 17th minute strike proved to be the difference between the two teams at the end of the 90 minutes.
Still bubbling from the confidence gained from their two game road trip to California, where they beat Pomana-Pitzer and University of Redlands one nil and two one respectively, the Scarlet Raiders continued with the start that Coach Kevin East was looking for. They were scoring and keeping the opponents attack at bay. In the end, East felt that his attack could have tested their goalkeeper a bit more, but he was pleased with the way they executed when they did manage a shot on target. He had high praises for his midfield and defense who fought gallantly to keep the military men away from Jonathan Frances’ goal.
Playing at home, it was understandably the Scarlet Raiders who started the brighter of the two teams. Rafael Donado and Nick Kyprianou were at ease in central midfield. They had tremendous support from Morales and Mike Trenard on the right and left side of midfield respectively. The back four of left back Bryan Boyer, center backs Conor Johnson and Jason chung, and right back Robi Roaasrio, got some good early touches which built up their confidence for the latter stages of the battle. Up front, Brian Barrera and Daniel Naranjo tried to assert themselves on a Marine defense that towered over them.
Despite the home team’s bright start, it was the visitors who had the first attempt on goal. In the 6th minute Hollis Irvine floated a free kick to the far post where Kurt Olsen rose the highest, but could not direct his header on target.
Sprung to life
That early scare sprung life into the Scarlet Raiders who were now looking to make their possession count on the scoreboard. Barrera began to show off his silky smooth skills with a lovely chest control before unleashing a ferocious volley that Garrett Reinert did well to save in the Marines’ goal. Soon after Barrera set off on a mazy run through the midfield before he was hacked down by Casey Desiderio, earning himself the first yellow card of the night. Kyprianou took the resulting free kick which was well wide of the target.
On 15 minutes Kyprianou would get another free kick attempt at goal. This time it was Lane Gould who fouled Naranjo 25 yards from goal. Up stepped Kyprianou and again he failed to force Reinert into a save.
Barrera showed good industry in the 18th minute when he won the ball back from the Marines, defense on the left side of their own defensive third. He deftly stepped inside a couple of defenders before rifling a low effort at Reinert who made the save. Two minutes later Barrera went on another terrorizing run at the Marines’ defense before the ball broke loose to Morales on the right side of the 18. The freshman from Newark looked as though he felt comfortable and at home as he fired the ball in the top right corner to give his side a deserved lead, and the home crowd who braved the rainy night some jubilation. The raiders kept searching for more and two minutes later Kyprianou wove his way through midfield before firing a cannon on goal, that Reinert did very well to save.
The midfield became the main battle ground as the Marines looked for a way back into the contest. On 25 minutes Donado picked up the second booking of the night for a rash challenge in midfield. The referee did well to initially let play continue as the visitors had an advantage. He duly flashed the yellow card to Donado afterwards. As the battle continued to intensify the Marines’ began to gain some ground in midfield on Kyprianou and Donando. In the 30th minute the Marines sprung Tanner Nestler down the left. He did well to get by Rosario and whip a decent cross into the 18, it took a double save, first from Frances and then from Chung to keep the score at one nil. The visitors battled hard for the remainder of the first half and were almost rewarded on the stroke of half time, but Desiderio’s header from Jacob Joseph’s free kick was marginally off target.
Merchant Marines picked up the intensity, and like their hosts did in the first stanza, they started the brighter of the two teams. They threatened with a lot of deep searching balls, playing to their size advantage, but Chung and the rest of his back line did well to keep them clear of Frances’ goal. The battle continued to rage on in midfield and Kyprianou and Donado had to be doing a lot more destroying than creating as the Marines pushed for an equalizer. They were almost rewarded in the 72nd minute when Nick Cuellar made a dancing move down the right before cutting the ball back inside for Ryan Silveira, but his riffled effort just whisked past Frances’ right upright.
The Scarlet Raiders were by now playing on the counter, and a minute after the Marines had a shot at one end, substitute Richie Villamar found himself with time and space on the left of the Marines’ 18. He picked out Donado with the perfect ball. Everyone was surprised to see Reinert dive to his right to expertly save Donado’s one time effort.
The Marines piled on a period of sustained pressure on the home team in the closing stages, asking a number of questions of their defense. In the 81st minute Alex Maney made a darting run from midfield, got around the covering Rosario close to the goal line and rifled a shot to Frances’ near post. The custodian did well to get two fists to the effort to beat it away. It became one way traffic for the final minutes but a combination of good defending, good goalkeeping and off target shooting by the Marines preserved the clean sheet and the home victory for the Scarlet Raiders.
Losing coach Michael Smolens believed it was a tough loss. “I thought it was a good match. I thought the beginning of the first half they took it to us and had the play. At the end of the first half and through the second half we made some adjustments and created enough chances but didn’t finish. It was a tough match, a good college soccer match, a lot of pressure with both sides working hard. It was a tough loss, but one nothing losses happen some times.”
Please remember to subscribe to my articles for the latest local soccer updates and reports. Thank you