The Fight for Playoffs Continues
Harrisburg, PA - Harrisburg City Islanders hosted the Wilmington Hammerheads at Millersville University on Saturday night.
Wilmington and Harrisburg came into this game only two points apart; both fighting for a playoff seed. Right out of the gate Harrisburg started strong, dominating the ball. One mistake made by Harrisburg opened up the door for Wilmington in the third minute where #7 Austin Martz scored the first goal of the match; his fourth of the season. #6 Liam Miller assisted Martz's goal, bringing Wilmington to a quick 1-0 lead.
Even after Martz's goal, Harrisburg continued to possess the ball, without creating too many opportunities to score. As the first half continued, goalkeeper Nick Noble made a beautiful diving save in the 25th minute; which stopped Wilmington from scoring a, close, second goal.
Since both teams are fighting for a playoff seed, Wilmington can walk away with a tie or win to keep them in the running for playoffs; whereas Harrisburg needs to win tonight to advance to playoffs.
The first half broke its modesty in the 39th minute where Harrisburg earned a free kick in a dangerous area in Wilmington's defensive end; a foot outside the 18.
After the call, #17 James Thomas pushed Miller causing a confrontation, which resulted in both parties earning yellow cards.
As the first half came to a close, Wilmington continued to lead 1-0 against Harrisburg. Wilmington had five shots on goal in the first half compared to Harrisburg's one. Harrisburg controlled the ball more often, but Wilmington used their opportunities to put the ball on net.
Coming out of the gate after a brief 15-minute half time, Harrisburg again controlled the ball. Harrisburg had their first corner kick of the game in the 53rd minute after a ball bounced off a Wilmington defender slipping to the outside of the left goal post; nearly sneaking past goalkeeper Eric Ati. Despite Harrisburg's efforts, they couldn't find the back of the net.
Ati made another incredible save in the 63rd minute where #16 Liam Doyle fired a shot within the 18. Ati dove, pushing the ball past the goalpost, giving Harrisburg their second corner kick of the match.
Picking up pace, Harrisburg consistently controlled the ball maintain play in Wilmington's defensive end for the majority of the second half. Harrisburg had several opportunities to score, missing by high or wide shots. With Harrisburg's push to score, Wilmington's transitioned from an attacking defense to holding their line and playing defensively as a team to maintain the 1-0 lead.
In the 77th minute, Harrisburg's hard work paid off when Warshaw scored the equalizing goal; assisted by #10 Paul Wilson. Wilson sent the ball to Warshaw where he crossed a low ball hitting the back left corner of the net.
Within the last five minutes in the second half, Wilmington continued to fight for a second goal; while Harrisburg counterattacked. Pressure continued to build for both teams, as this game was critical to push for a playoff seed. Heading into stoppage time, Harrisburg came back equalizing corner kicks with Wilmington; 6-6.
With valiant efforts, the game ended in a 1-1 draw. Head coach Mark Briggs stated, "The first half was a fantastic team performance and we were well organized. We created a lot of chances, but should have won." He continued, "Now, we have to beat Richmond in order to advance into playoffs."
Wilmington will walk away with one point and face the Richmond Kickers on September 24th in hopes of earning a playoff seed.
Harrisburg's #6 Bobby Warshaw received the third yellow card of the match in the 58th minute. In the 82nd minute the fourth yellow card of the game was given to Wilmington.
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United Soccer League Championship Stories from September 17, 2016
- FC Montreal Loses 4-0 against the Red Bulls - FC Montreal
- FC Cincinnati, Townsend Seal Home Playoff Spot with Late Goal - - FC Cincinnati
- Independence Fall 1-0 to Rhinos in Home Finale - Charlotte Independence
- The Fight for Playoffs Continues - Wilmington Hammerheads FC
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