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Hammerheads Win At Home

by Marissa Blackman

Tonight's match marks the third time this season that the Wilmington Hammerheads played against New York Red Bulls II. The last time the two clubs met, the Hammerheads lost at home by a one goal deficit. From the opening seconds of the match, the Hammerheads were determined not to allow a similar result.

Before a full minute passed, the Hammerheads attempted a goal. Although that first shot was far off target, it established the rhythm of the match. The Hammerheads maintained control, and had chances, whether from corner kicks or in open play. One of those attempts hit the target in the 19th minute when midfielder Stefan Drefregger scored the first goal of the match.Though the Hammerheads continued to maintain possession, the Red Bulls were able to get the ball and break through the defense to equalize in the 35th minute. The Hammerheads regained the lead  when Drefregger, assisted by Qudus Lawal,  put another goal on the score sheet. Just ten minutes later, Lawlal scored, pushing the Hammerheads even farther past the opposition.

The two teams reentered the match with Wilmington leading 3-1. It would have been perfectly plausible for those four goals to have been the end of the action, but there was still more for spectators to enjoy. Throughout the second half, the Red Bulls certainly got more possession than in the first, and forced Hammerheads goalie Andre Rawls to make several saves. In the final minutes, the match got slightly chippy, leading to a few yellow cards. A rough tackle made by a Red Bull resulted in a penalty kick, which Brian Ackley converted in the 61st minute. New York responded with a second goal, scored by Chris Tsonis, twenty minutes later. Though there was still a two goal deficit, that goal certainly gave the New York Red Bulls affiliate hope. A nasty collision in the 84th minute led to a second yellow for New York's Konrad Plewa, leaving the already struggling club lacking a man for the final minutes of the match. The Hammerheads produced ninety plus minutes of consistently focused play with unrelenting tenacity, which proved too much for the Red Bulls to overcome.

This 4-2 victory is the first time the Hammerheads have won at home this season. Hammerheads midfielder Will Heaney called the match "the best we played all season." Andre Campbell expressed the joy of finally winning at home saying, "You can see the smiles on the peoples faces. That's what we do. We play for the supporters, the community, especially the kids. It's always good to have people happy."

The Hammerheads remain at the bottom of the table with fifteen points. Any upward movement in the standings for this club will literally be an uphill battle, and the players are ready for the challenge. Here are some quotes from a few of them:

"We said coming into this game that it was going to be an eight game season, so we want to win eight games. One down and now we have seven more to go. We just take the rest of the games…as a new season." --Brian Ackley

"We want to build on the positivity from this win… and build a little run here for the end of the season and who knows what can happen.” -- Matt Glaeser

"All we're playing for now is seven games. We're just going to try our best."-- Will Heaney

"We just have to go back and do the same thing over again…get as many wins as we can and see what happens. It's a good game for us. We just need to keep the momentum going." --Sunny Jane

With such a united, determined mindset, this club could really become a nuisance for the clubs at the top of the table before the season is over.

On a slightly less related note. New York City FC, the MLS affiliate of Wilmington Hammerheads FC, plays against the New York Red Bulls of MLS tomorrow. It would be an interesting coincidence if both the Hammerheads and NYCFC defeated the Red Bulls.

The Hammerheads take the field again next Saturday against the Rochester Rhinos.

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