Report: Real Maryland 0 - Harrisburg 2
By Matt Skinner
Real Maryland remains in ninth place in the USL-2 standings after succumbing to Harrisburg 2-0 at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Two first-half goals for Harrisburg, courtesy of Brett Weisner and Brian Ombiji, was all that was needed for the Islanders to return to Pennsylvania with three points and leave the Monarchs winless in seven consecutive league matches.
It was the visitors who found their rhythm first and subsequently dictated the earlier parts of the game.
In the 9th minute, unmarked Islanders’ defender Anthony Calvano managed to make a blistering run down the right-wing of the field before crossing the ball into the penalty area for fellow teammate Ryan Heins. The midfielder needed just a foot on the ball to open up the scoring but was quickly closed down by Monarchs’ defender Daryl Ferguson, who let the ball rollout for a goal-kick.
Harrisburg began another attack merely four minutes later when midfielder David Schofield began dribbling the ball down the center of the field. The Englishman’s possession of the ball was quickly intercepted by Monarchs midfielder Dennis Alas, who instinctively struck the ball down Harrisburg’s half of the field for fellow countryman Ronald Cerritos to latch onto. Unfortunately for the Salvadoran, Islander’s defender Ryan Pierce read the play and managed to clear the ball before the striker could create a chance.
The Islanders’ were in the lead in the 20th minute courtesy of some quick passing between Weisner and Ombiji. The Kenyan was able to dribble the ball into Real Maryland’s penalty area, forcing goalkeeper Emilio Zelaya to come out of his box and attempt a save. Spotting Weisner unmarked, the midfield quickly tapped the ball to him and Zelaya could do nothing but watch as the striker placed the ball into the open goal.
The visitors were encouraged by their opening goal and continued attacking the Monarchs’ penalty area. They were denied however by the smart defensive positioning of Real Maryland’s Andy Kish, who continuously managed to absorb the Islanders’ attacks and convert them into some well-needed clearances.
In the 37th minute of the game, Kish managed to clear the ball down field for Cerritos, who was making a run down the left-side of the field. The striker was quick in controlling the ball and placed a well-timed cross onto the head of Alas. The midfielder had intended to set the ball up for Nilson Perez, who was making a run of his own into the penalty area, but was immediately closed down by both Pierce and Dustin Bixler.
Maryland mounted another creative play eight minutes later courtesy of Stephen Basso’s charge down the center of the field. The midfielder was quick in off-loading the ball to Cerritos on the left and the Salvadoran began his run into the Harrisburg penalty area, overcoming two Harrisburg players that attempted to block his path. Bixler did not fail where his teammates had and he was able to retain the ball for the visitors before quickly clearing it away from danger.
The visitor’s found the net again in first-half injury time thanks to Ombiji. The midfielder’s fancy footwork helped divert the ball around Zelaya, who unsuccessfully came out of his box again in an attempt to close down the oncoming threat. The Kenyan capitalized on the ’keeper’s mistake with a well placed strike into the home side’s goal mouth.
The Monarchs’ first real attack of the second-half did not materialize until eleven minutes after play had resumed.
Basso had taken matters into his own hands and began another run down the left-wing, easily side-stepping four Harrisburg players along the way. The pacey midfielder unleashed a well-timed cross into the penalty area, which allowed Perez to head the ball down for Cerritos. The striker took his chance and shot directly into the path of goalkeeper Daniel Cepero’s hands.
Both teams continued to pile on the pressure inside each other’s penalty area.
In the 73rd minute, Islander’s substitute midfielder Adam Clay was deemed to have fouled Basso just outside the visitor’s penalty area. Perez was quick in striking the ball but it bounced off the Islander’s wall. The Colombian was the first to retain the ball and after some further dribbling inside the box, unleashed another shot. Cepero had little time to react, his body taking the brunt of the ball’s impact before managing to smother it.
Only six minutes had passed before Monarchs’ substitute midfielder Teodoro Ramirez had been charged with fouling Heins outside the home side’s penalty area. Schofield’s acutely angled shot just outside the left-hand corner was goal bound but Zelaya realized the danger and blocked it.
A moment of error by Real Maryland in the final minute nearly gifted Harrisburg with a third goal.
Marcus Chantel clearance inside the Monarchs’ penalty area had been intended for Higueras further up field, but the loose ball was intercepted by Harrisburg substitute Stephen Fisher. The forward was able to find space within the Monarchs’ penalty area and crossed the ball over the head of Zelaya for the goal-bound Clay. To the relief of everyone in attendance at the SoccerPlex, the midfielder had little time to react and headed the ball wide of his target.
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