Fuego Win a Wild One to Open the Season
Sept. 9, 2012, Oakton, VA
The FUEGO faced the CSA Fever this week, and in doing so, opened a new chapter, as they played their first game in WAGS. They started right by playing one of their strongest games ever. In what seemed initially as if it were going to be a low-scoring defensive struggle because of the long, wet grass and large field, the game instead turned into a shootout.
The Fever took control off the opening kickoff and put immediate pressure on the Fuego defense. Caroline came up big with a great save just minutes into the game, and it looked as if the Fuego were in for a tough morning. But once they gained possession of the ball, the Fuego began passing, and eventually took control of the game.
Pauline got things going offensively when she sent Jazz in on a breakaway, but Jazz got bogged down in the heavy grass, and the defense intercepted her before she could get a shot off. Nevertheless, the Fuego managed to pin the Fever in their own end with pinpoint passing and intense pressure. Shortly afterwards, Morgan intercepted a clearing pass, fed the ball to Julia, who found Rhi on the right. Rhi passed back to Morgan, who launched the ball over Jazz's head. This time, Jazz put some distance between herself and the defense, juked around the diving goalie, and put the ball safely into the back of the net, giving the Fuego the lead, 1-0.
The Fever tied it up shortly afterwards on a terrific ball from distance that sailed over everyone and just under the crossbar.
The Fuego were determined to take the lead again before the half and put intense pressure on the Fever players. Nina took the ball deep, passed back to Sara, who fed the ball across to Katie. Katie found Jazz moving laterally across the goal and hit her in stride with the ball. Jazz pushed the ball into space and fired across her body, and into the corner of the next to retake the lead, 2-1 before the half.
The Fuego extended their lead to 3-1 shortly after halftime when Kennia intercepted a clearing pass and raced right up the middle of the field, then slid a terrific pass to Amanda, who turned and drilled the ball past the diving goal keeper.
The Fever didn't quit, and moments later got one back on a defensive miscue. But once again the Fuego took command. Pushing into the Fever zone, Julia took control and single-handedly tied up the Fever defense for about three minutes. The Fever finally got the ball away from her and tried to clear, but Marika intercepted it and slid the ball to Aby. Aby sent a ball in toward goal. Melissa collected the ball and slid it across to Ellie, who was tightly marked by a Fever defender. Ellie fought off the defender and blasted the ball into the net past the goalie's fingers.
Once more the Fever came back, and cut the lead to 4-3 on a crazy shot that slipped between Caroline's foot and the near post.
Clinging to the one goal lead, the Fuego again mounted a charge up field. Jazz, Julia and Sabrine worked a nifty give and go along the right side. Sabrnie managed to get clear of the defender and send the ball toward Brooke, who was heading toward the goal. The ball slid past Brooke, but right to Kirsten, who met the ball and the goalie simultaneously. Kristen slammed the ball under the goalie as she went tumbling over her. Both Kristen and the ball ended up in the net for what was the goal of the day, and earned Kristen Frankenball honors.
It was a wild game, with lots of momentum changes, but the Fuego demonstrated a level of skill in their passing and ball control that had not been seen before. It was a great and satisfying win, and it is clear that the Fuego ready for the coming season.
The Fuego pose for a team photo after their 5-3 opening day victory.