Ups, Downs and Farewells
The Fuego are announced before their game with the LFC Avalanche
May 5, LEESBURG - The FUEGO played yet another weekend of back-to-back games, and the grind finally caught up to them, but not before they managed to put together a terrific team effort to earn their first win of the season.
Saturday the Fuego hosted the SYC Xplosion for their third meeting within a week. This time the Fuego complete the cycle by outlasting the Xplosion and earning a hard-fought 1-0 victory at home.
The game started out with both teams probing for weaknesses, but produced no real scoring chances. Morgan and Kennia repulsed several early efforts by the Xplosion attackers, and Caroline was tested once or twice. Finally the Fuego began to attack up the sidelines and that opened up space in the middle. The Fuego players began to control the ball in the attacking end of the field. Nina, Kristen and Carolyn used their space and support from Beverly and Karina to funnel the ball into Frankenball-winner Amanda, Julia, Sabrine and Rachel, who in turn tried to locate Jazz up near the goal. But the Xplosion defense created a lot of traffic in front of their own net, making it difficult for Jazz to find space to run.
Still, attacking up the sides was proving effective as first Nina then Kristen made great crosses into the box that just skipped past the pressing Fuego forwards.
Then Sabrine found Kristen open on the right. Kristen raced deep into the right corner and fired a ball across the middle of the goal. Jazz pounced on the ball and fired it into the corner of the net to give the Fuego the 1-0 lead going into half time.
Aby sorted out her GPS issues and arrived in time to fill in for the ailing Morgan in the second half and did a terrific job.
The Fuego kept the pressure on. Carolyn made a spectacular run, eluding/leaping over an Xplosion defender along the right side before firing a blast that the Xplosion goalie barely got a finger on, Julia lofted a gorgeous shot on goal from about 25 yards out that narrowly missed the upper corner, and Jazz had two point-blank shots that first the goalie, then a defender got in front of to deny her another goal.
But the Xplosion kept the pressure up and Beverly, Karina, Aby, and the always-spectacular Kennia, with help from Amanda, managed to tie up the Xplosion attackers. Caroline helped to secure her second shutout by making several spectacular saves to preserve the win.
On Sunday the nearly-exhausted Fuego never got on track vs the LFC Avalanche. Buoyed by pre-game introductions, including some creative name pronunciations, and by Caroline’s spectacular (and Frankenball-winning) play in goal, they had a number of chances to score, especially during the second half when they began to find space on the outside to penetrate the Avalanche zone. But fatigue, both mental and physical, caught up to them and they came up short.
At the conclusion of the game, the team gathered to bid a tearful farewell to long-time captain Melissa, who (barring a rainout next week) played her final game in a Fuego uniform. She has been a strong, passionate leader and a great supporter and friend to her teammates and coaches since she joined the team four years ago, and she will be greatly missed.
The Fuego play their final league game next Sunday against the HSC Freedom Hotshots in Hargerstown, MD.