Fuego Knot Shock, Earn 2nd Place

 

November 11, Reston, VA

The FUEGO entered the game against the Reston Shock needing a win or a tie, plus a loss by the LFC Avalanche, to gain at least a tie for second place in the division.  Knowing this, the team put on one of the strongest efforts ever, pulling out a remarkable 1-1 tie against the previous unbeaten, untied and un-scored upon Shock.

Playing with only 15 players, the Fuego nevertheless put on a tremendous display of team work and tenacity as they pressured the Shock players from the opening whistle.  As a result, the Shock made numerous errors that led to several first half scoring chances by the Fuego.

Early on, Ellie and Sabrine worked a great give and go down the left side.  Sabrine slid the ball forward to Jazz, who blasted a great cross to Kristen who got off a great shot that the goalie just got a piece of.  That would become the story for much of the rest of the game, as shot after shot by Julia, Aby, Ellie, Jazz, Sabrine, Amanda, Katie, Brooke, Rhi and Kristen all either went high, wide, got blocked in front, or otherwise missed the mark as the Fuego, who once again dominated play, repeatedly tried to find their way through the dense Shock defense.

The Fuego defense, however, was every bit as stingy as the Shock's, denying the Shock players any clear path to goal.  Melissa and Kennia were terrific in the middle, turning back everything that came their way, while Rhi, Marika and Emily were outstanding on the outside, both denying attackers space and jumping up to join the attack.

Unfortunately Melissa was lost to an ankle injury after making a terrific run deep into the Shock end.  Her efforts nearly resulted in a goal, as she found Brooke on a pass to the outside, who in turn slid the ball into Jazz, who blasted a shot just wide of the goal.  Marika took over in the middle and did a terrific job in Melissa's place.

However, moments later, the Shock got a goal off a perfect corner that dropped into traffic.  A Shock player got a foot on the ball that just skipped by Caroline.  It was the only blemish on an otherwise spectacular outing  as Caroline came up big on several instances to keep the Shock off the scoreboard.

She also continued to have help from the defense, and from Kennia in particular who got knocked down or run over at least three separate times, only to bounce right back up and chase down the attacker.

As the game wore on, the level of intensity increased, as did the scoring chances, but the Fuego could not figure out a way to beat the Shock defense.  Then, with time running out, Jazz appeared to knock the ball into the net past the sprawling goalie, but the Ref waived off the goal. 

Then the Fuego pulled out all the stops.  Julia intercepted a crossing pass and hit Sabrine on the left.  Sabrine took the ball deep and tried to work it around the defense but was fouled.  Julia took the kick and it bounced out to the middle of the field, but a foul gave the Fuego a free shot.  Aby's ball went just over the net.  But Katie intercepted the goal kick and found Rhi coming down the left side.  Rhi was fouled, and Julia launched a perfect ball toward the far side of the goal.  Kristen raced in from the right side  and slammed the ball into the back of the net with her knee AS TIME EXPIRED!  Seconds later, the Ref blew the final whistle.

The Fuego celebrated wildly after the whistle blew.  They had played their hardest against the division champions, had dominated play for most of the game, and finally figured out how to beat the dense Shock defense.  Their goal proved to be the only one the Shock would surrender all season, and the tie denied them a perfect 8-0 record.

For the Fuego, their efforts earned them a share of second place with a 5-2-1 record, thanks to a Rumble victory over the Avalanche earlier in the day.  It was a remarkable season, not only because it was the Fuego's  first in WAGS but because they proved to be such a dominant and resilient team.  Everyone played hard all season long, and everyone played together.  It has been a most remarkable season.   

Congratulations Fuego!  Awesome job everyone!