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#GameDayEve Richmond Kickers Edition

Tomorrow, Wilmington Hammerheads FC will play Richmond Kickers for the third and final time of this season (unless, of course, the two sides end up meeting again in the playoffs). Both of the previous games between these two teams have ended in draws, and they've both been very enjoyable to watch. In fact, I'd even go as far to say that Richmond is my favorite team in the league to watch the Hammers play. I've already given general facts about the Kickers on #GameDayEve on Twitter, so I'll just give a brief update before we take a trip in a time machine
  • Wilmington is sixth and Richmond is second
  • Willis, the GK that played in previous games for Richmond, has been recalled by D.C. United
  • The Hammerheads will also have a different roster than before because there have been recalls, national team call ups, releases, suspensions,new loans, and new signings
  • Wilmington is coming off of a 2-0 loss to the Charlotte Eagles
  • Richmond is coming off of a 2-1 win against the Harrisburg City Islanders (also a 3-0 loss to Crystal Palace in a friendly)
  • The Hammerheads just got a new Technical Director, Carson Porter. He's had quite a career and  and here's interview with him.
Now let's go back in time to June 28nd, the last game between the Hammerheads and the Kickers. The World Cup was still in full swing, Brazil still had a fighting chance, and it was a very rainy day.

Kicking In Twice

Several hours before the gates to Legion Stadium even opened I was already hyped up on soccer. We are in the midst of this little tournament that happens every four years…THE WORLD CUP, and I'd been taking it in all day.

I watched Neymar save the day in the nail biting penalty session of the game I like to call BRACHI. Just a few hours later I got to watch the euphoria of yet another underdog (I’m speaking of Colombia, and go ahead debate me on that termage) defeating the expected winners.

 After all that excitement, I ventured over to Legion Stadium to see what I was sure would be another exciting game. Wilmington Hammerheads FC was playing the Richmond Kickers, and it wasn’t the first time.

 The initial meeting of the two clubs was the kind of game I crave. It was very action packed. For a good portion of the game, it seemed like a team would get a shot every couple of minutes. Right down to the final minute it could’ve been anybody’s game because both teams were just that good. The Hammerheads returned from halftime trailing behind with a two goal deficit  until almost the 80th minute. It ended in a tie. All that happened last time, so I expected this game to be just as entertaining.

All day I'd been wondering if the game would be cancelled due to the ominous clouds and occasional heavy showers. The rain began to pick up right around game time. In fact, it started raining cats and dogs just as I was purchasing my tickets. I had an umbrella that I was struggling to share with two other people, but that wasn’t enough. I was very grateful that there was a vendor selling ponchos.  I was very apprehensive about entering the outdoor section of the stadium (where all the seats are) because, aside from bathing, I’m like a cat when it comes to water. It’s been years seen I’ve been in a pool, and although I live only miles away from a beautiful beach I hardly ever do more than dip my toes in the water.

With my poncho, I finally decided to go on out into the torrential downpour (maybe I’m exaggerating a little). It was almost time for kickoff and I wasn’t going to let a little rain stop me from seeing the game. By the time all the pregame formalities were done, I’d finally gotten myself situated so that my poncho kept my pants from getting soaked by the seat. It was actually rather cozy and as I was watching the game, the rain became somewhat pleasant. Eventually, the sky cleared up.

Now about the game. It lived up to my expectations. The first half proved that the Kickers are one of the best fits in the league for the Hammerheads to play. Richmond is the perfect competition because the two teams seem to be pretty even in abilities, so it can always go either way.

 I think that’s a great thing considering that the Kickers are 2nd in the league. It gives more fuel to my theory that when the Hammerheads catch up with the rest of the league in the games played department, the team will be somewhere at the top of the table.

By the end of the first half, the two sides were tied on shots and no goals had been scored. In the 60th  minute, the situation changed. Tom Parratt scored a goal! For a good while after that, I was sure the Hammerheads were going to win. They were doing a great job of holding the Kickers back. That thought came crashing down with a Richmond goal in the 79th minute. The final score was 1-1. 

This game solidified the fact that the Hammerheads learn after playing a team. Charleston and Charlotte are the only other teams the Wilmington have played multiple times so far. They beat Charleston twice. They beat Charlotte after losing to them once. And today they completely neutralized the threat of Matthew Delicate, who scored two goals in the previous meeting. This is another very encouraging fact because the Hammerheads still have one more game against the Kickers, and the Hammerheads will also play league leaders Orlando City SC three times before the season ends.

Speaking of Orlando… it’s the next team the Hammers will play on Thursday July 3rd. The Hammerheads seemed pretty confident and eager for the competition. Now that’s I’ve said what I think, let’s here from the some of the Hammerheads themselves.

“We haven’t been beaten in nine games either so it’s going to be a good battle. We are both two confident teams. They’re at the top of the league for a reason. We’ve been wanting the play this game. It’s going to be a good battle and we’re going to enjoy it.”- Ashani Fairclough

“First off, foot is feeling great[He was speaking of his foot injury]. Second off, that’s nine straight unbeaten for the Wilmington Hammerheads. I know it’s a tie but you gotta look at that overall. They’re[Richmond] the second place team in the league and we had them on their heels. So overall its good stuff and we’re looking forward to Thursday taking on the best team in the league Orlando City Lions.”- Troy Cole

“I felt like we should’ve won the game, but a draw’s a draw. We had the better chances but we didn’t put them away.” –Albert Edward

 “I thought the first half was alright, but the second half was much better. We came out fired up and got the goal. It was a much better second half. If we came out first half like that, we would’ve probably won the game. But hey we got the tie, we’ll take it.”-Yahaya Musa

Eventually, conversation turned to the world cup.

“…World Cup is great.”- Jordan Hamilton

“World cup is very fun!  It’s been interesting lot of upsets lot of teams advancing to the knockout stages that you didn’t think were going through. It’s very exciting so far.”- Matt Glaeser

Who knows what tomorrow will hold? What I do know, is that if it's anything like the previous games between these two clubs, it'll definitely be one not to miss.

--Marissa

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