Report: Real Maryland 4- UMBC 2
Monarchs sink Retrievers in final match of the pre-season
Four different players were on target as Real Maryland wrapped up its pre-season in style with a 4-2 win over UMBC Friday evening in Baltimore.
The Monarchs finish their first ever pre-season with a record of 3-1-1 and can finally turn their focus towards next Sunday’s inaugural USL-2 and home opener against Western Mass at 4:00 PM at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
It was a nervous start for Real Maryland, however, and the Monarchs found themselves behind after 14 minutes. Daryl Ferguson was whistled for holding Kevin Gnatiko at the top of the box as the two of them raced for a through ball. Up stepped left back Daniel Bulls and he curled his free kick to perfection, over the wall, beyond the outstretched arms of Christian Montero and into the upper left hand corner.
The goal shook Real Maryland into action and the Monarchs were back on level terms within 10 minutes.
Muner Hassen set up a shooting opportunity for Dennis Alas at the top of the box. The Salvadorian’s hard shot was spilled by Matt Henderson and a grateful Nilson Perez was on hand to smash in his third goal of the pre-season.
Two minutes later, Real Maryland took the lead. Alas’s quickly taken free kick from deep in midfield caused havoc in the UMBC penalty area and Monarchs’ forward William Brindley settled the ensuing scramble by heading the ball into the net from close range.
Following their two goals in two minute outbursts, the Monarchs began to settle into their passing game, keeping possession well and moving the ball nicely along the floor. Former MLS star Ronald Cerritos was at the fore, pulling the strings in midfield and he almost gave Real Maryland a two goal cushion five minutes before the break.
Perez did well to hold up the ball with his back to goal and he laid it off for a streaking Cerritos, but the captain’s first time blast cannoned off the crossbar.
Any momentum gained from a good first half showing was lost, however, as UMBC equalized right on the cusps of halftime.
In the 44th minute, Gnatiko set off on a run that took him past Ferguson. Gnatiko then fought off Barnes and made his way into the box. Across came former UMBC standout Phillipe Bissohong to clear the ball out of touch, but the man in the middle blew his whistle and pointed to the spot, claming Bissohong caught Gnatiko’s foot when it appeared he got all ball.
Following the confusion and protest, Bulls stepped up to the ball to score his second goal from a set piece with the final kick of the half. The left-back calmly rolled the ball to the left as Montero dove to his right.
Both sides made positive starts to the second half. For UMBC, Levi Houapeu and Gnatiko were combining well in attack, causing fits for the Real Maryland defense. At the other end, Victor Ramirez, a 52nd minute sub for Brindley, was torturing the UMBC backline with his hard running and willingness to take defenders on.
Despite their efforts however, none of these attackers played a hand in the games next goal.
In the 64th minute, Devlin Barnes carried the ball up from his right back position. 35 yards from goal Barnes looked up and sent what seemed to be a harmless shot right at Henderson. The UMBC keeper spilled the ball and could only watch in horror as it bounced through his legs and rolled into the net.
“It was all part of my plan,” Barnes joked after the game. “I saw an opening and I didn’t really get a good hold of it, but it worked out in the end. I was a little shocked definitely but it’s a goal. I’ll take it.”
Dustin Dzwonkowksi entered the game in the 78th minute for UMBC and his introduction almost turned the game on its head.
In the 86th minute Dzwonkowski combined well with Houapeu to free himself for a shot, but Dzwonkowski put his effort into the side netting.
Two minutes later, LJ Pijnenburg floated a free kick deep into a crowded penalty area, Dzwonkowski rose highest, but slammed his header against the crossbar. The ball bounced right on the line in front of goal, but was cleared to safety.
Following the clearance, Real Maryland set off on a counter attack. Jose Maldonado found himself with space in the midfield. 25 yards from goal, Maldonado picked his head up and fired an unstoppable shot into the upper left hand corner, beyond the reach of the outstretched keeper.
Maldonado credited his goal to the two forwards in front of him whose runs took defenders away and created the space for him to move into. “Dangelo [Da Silva] and Victor [Ramirez] opened up the space. They made a good run,” Maldonado said after the game, “which gave me space, about five or six seconds to control the ball and take the shot and it just happened to go in.”
The match was a bit of a homecoming for Real Maryland center back Phillipe Bissohong who played for and graduated from UMBC just last year. Bissohong walked onto the UMBC squad as a junior in 2006 and was named the team’s unsung hero. In 2007, Bissohong played all 20 games and was named to the America East Conference All Tournament Team.
“Are you sure you’re not hurt?” joked one of Bissohong’s former teammates as he walked to the bench before the game.
For Bissohong getting the chance to play his former squad as a professional player was an emotional experience. “It was hard for me to focus,” Bissohong said after the game, “but we came up with the win and I’m happy about it.”
Speaking about the upcoming season, Bissohong believes he and his new teammates are ready.
“We played pretty well. We’re improving every game. So I’m happy about it and I feel like the team is bonding every game. I think were ready. There is a few things we need to work on, but I feel were definitely ready”
GAME NOTES AND QUOTES
*** Real Maryland finish the preseason 3-1-1 including one win against a USL-2 opponent (Crystal Palace Baltimore). The Monarchs finish the exhibition schedule with 7 goals scored and 4 goals conceded.
On the game…
“Every time you win its good, but we have things we have to correct.”
On what he liked from his team…
"I liked the movement we had, the speed of the game, the way we played, and the way we switched the play. It’s beginning to work. We’re close to the season, one week away, and I think its working."
On whether or not his team is ready for the season…
"I think were as ready as were going to be."
On the game…
"Were performing. The team played very hard. Obviously, that was our last game and everybody wants to be part of the starting line-up, especially for the first game. So that’s good for the coaches because it’s going to be difficult for them to choose who gets to play next week. So for me, when the team is playing like that and every player plays with a lot of passion and discipline that’s good for us and harder for other teams. Today we played like that. We played very simple, one and two touches. For me, that was, I think, the best game in preseason."
On whether or not the team is ready for the season…
"I’m lying if I say were ready 200% because we’re a new team, but it’s looking good every day. Every day it seems the team makes another step in the right direction."
"I think we are going to be fine for the first game."
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