Fuego Blank Reston for First Win
April 21, GREAT FALLS - After starting the season with a disappointing, hard fought loss to the Arlington Blast, the Fuego looked to get back on the winning track against their old rival, and defending champion Reston Shock.
Without the services of Kristen, Amanda, Sara, Sarah, and Marika, the Fuego still put forward a formidable team against a stingy Shock team that surrendered all of one goal last season (to the Fuego).
Right from the opening whistle the Fuego were the aggressors, putting immediate pressure on the Shock defenders and controlling the flow of play early.
Julia and Melissa did an excellent job all day controlling the middle of the field, feeding passes wide to Nina and Sabrine to try and get around the dense Shock defense. Any balls up the middle to Ellie and Jazz to try and split the defenders often were rejected as the Shock continued to pack the center of the field and crowd out any open space.
Indeed, both players were well covered most of the afternoon – Jazz in particular drawing two and three defenders to her almost constantly, making any attacks up the middle all but impossible.
But the Shock played an aggressive transition game, leaving two players high for outlet passes. Fortunately Rhi, Pauline, Kennia and Frankenball winner Morgan were there to run down most attempted breakouts.
The Shock had several scoring chances early, and Caroline came up big once again, attacking opposing players and pouncing on loose balls. However, on one save attempt, the ball bounced under Caroline and right to a Shock attacker, who redirected the ball toward the net.
But Rhi saw the play developing and raced into the goal mouth just in time to deflect the ball outside. It was the closest the Shock would come to scoring all afternoon.
The Fuego began to use the wings more, both to break out of their own zone, and to break into the Shock’s zone. Sabrine and Brooke did a great job on the left side controlling the ball and working it back inside to Aby, Ellie, Julia, Melissa and Katie, while Nina and Dasha made several deep runs into the Shock end of the field, looking for a cross into the box.
One such play nearly resulted in a goal, when Nina stole the ball from a Shock defender deep in the Reston zone, worked herself into the open, and fired a terrific pass across the goal mouth right to Sabrine, who was crashing the net from the right. Sabrine’s shot from point-blank range just skipped over the cross bar.
Moments later, Jazz got flattened in front of the Reston goal, but no call was made. But shortly after that, Jazz got fouled in the box again, and this time the ref did whistle the play. Julia drilled the penalty kick over the goalie’s head and into the net, giving the Fuego the lead with about five minutes to play.
The Shock ramped up the intensity as they tried for the equalizer, but the defense was up to the challenge, turning back each attacking wave. The Fuego regained possession of the ball and wore out the clock, and sealed the victory.
It was a hard-fought game, and the dense Shock defense and chippy style of play frustrated many Fuego players. But the Fuego played a solid, coordinated game, with crisp passing and strong support, and came away with the victory, evening their record at 1 and 1. They now look forward to avenging a late-season loss to the CSA Fever in two weeks.