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Wilmington vs. Rochester

Tonight the Hammerheads battled for ninety plus minutes against the Rochester Rhinos.

Rochester has never lost a game and Wilmington has only won one. Prior to the match, the Rhinos were on top of the table and the Hammerheads were second to the bottom. These two teams have had very different seasons, and it would have been almost expected for the Hammerheads to loose.
From the very first minute, the Hammerheads really held their own.

This was a heart palpitating match. Both teams fought extremely hard. By halftime, neither team made it onto the scoreboard. After halftime, both teams continued going back and forth with each other. When one got possession, the other would regain it. Each time either club took a shot, it inspired the other to work even harder. As regular time dwindled down, the history of 0-0 draws between these two clubs seemed sure to repeat itself…until the Rhinos scored in the 89th minute. The fans sitting around me seemed absolutely devastated. “After all that work…,” one of them gasped.
Minutes later, Ashani Fairclough revived the atmosphere by scoring an extra time equalizer. The crowd responded with a boisterous sustained mixture of cowbells, yells, and stomping. The Hammerheads successfully held back the Rhinos for a few more minutes and were able to salvage one point from a game that could have had a very different result.

The crowd was visibly and audibly ecstatic, but the Hammerheads had a more levelheaded reaction to the match. I asked players and staff “Are you satisfied with the result of the game?” and the answer was a unanimous no.

“I’m satisfied at the way that they worked and the character they showed to get a goal back when they were losing, but I’m not satisfied with the way they played. They need to play better. They have a great job, but it’s a job, so when we ask them to do certain things…and I think a lot of guys didn’t do their job very well today.”-Head Coach Carson Porter

“I don’t know if satisfied is the right word. We’ll take it because it’s something to build off. I’m disappointed that we conceded so late but then delighted that we showed the guts to come back and grab an equalizer.”- Tom Parratt

“I don’t want to say that I’m satisfied with that result. I’m disappointed to give that goal away, but I would say I’m happy that we got away with a tie. We need to win games at home especially in front of the home crowd to try to build around the community.” –Brian Ackley

“You can look at it both ways. We’re disappointed that we didn’t get three points for our fans and for us in the table because we really need that right now, but let’s take a look at what happened. We ended up scoring at the end. We came back. We gave something for the crowd to cheer for, and they erupted. And that’s something to build off of. We’re going to build off that. We’re going to take a look at the tape, and we’re going to get better. Keep believing!”- Troy Cole

After getting away from the crowd, I must note that the less enthusiastic response from the Hammerheads is perhaps more appropriate. Truthfully, the Hammerheads missed a few chances, that could have put the team in the lead well before Rochester scored. Especially in the second half, Rochester had a few chances that did not prove fruitful solely because of unfortunate aim. The Hammerheads could have done better, and they seem bent and determined to do so.

Tonight, the Hammerheads got the crowd out of their seats. Through on the field actions and off the field comments, the Hammerheads displayed a level of tenacity that I think is sure to get results. This seems to be the start of good things for the club.

The next Wilmington Hammerheads FC match happens on Wednesday against Chattanooga FC. It will be the first Open Cup match for the Hammerheads this season. Chattanooga is the same club that knocked the Hammerheads out of the Open Cup last season. Carson Porter thinks highly of the tournament and plans on putting the club’s best foot forward. “I’m excited about the Open Cup. It’s such a cool tournament because every soccer team in the country is in the Open Cup,” Porter commented. “We’re going to put our best team out there and go after it like any other game. We’ll put the best team that we think can help us get a result.”

Level is the best word to describe tonight’s match. Both teams worked to secure a level score, and the Hammerheads seems to be levelheaded. It will be exciting to see this hungry team work to accomplish its goals.

---Marissa Blackman

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