Sofia Read prepares to throw the ball in to Melissa Lookingland while Asia Fort defends – on the ugliest field I’ve ever seen an official match played on
The Lions Swarm didn’t look much better in their second-ever outing, losing to the ASA Chesapeake Charge, 7-1, on their home field – this after losing 9-0 on the road to ACF Torino a little over a week ago.
And frankly I don’t know how much I want to dignify this match by doing a writeup of it. I arrived at 6:20 pm for what I thought was a 6:30 match only to find that the game had been going for some time – the start time had been changed to 6 pm without any announcement of the fact. Even as I write this, all three websites – Charge, Lions, and WPSL – still say 6:30 pm. There was a scoreboard, but it went unused. The field was the size of a postage stamp and, to extend the metaphor, a really badly cancelled postage stamp, given the multitudinous bare patches on the field. It was far and away the worst pitch I’ve seen for an officially sanctioned match.
Team captain Laura Kane found it a frustrating venue. “The field was really short, and so it forced us to play a lot of balls over the top. They played a really high line at the back, which means we have to continue to dump the ball in. As a midfielder, it was a tough game to play in because I felt like there was no space for us to work with. Kind of eliminated the midfield in the game, and balls were going straight from the defenders to the forwards.”
At least I didn’t miss any goals. The Charge incurred numerous offside calls due to the high back line before they got their rhythm down. Once they did, though, the floodgates opened, with goals in the 19th, 22nd, 25th, 29th, and 40th minutes, the first four occurring while I was eating my dinner so I wasn’t able to take notes about them. It pretty much felt as if the Charge could score at will, and, as with the Torino match, the Lions were simply outmanned at any spot on the field. The Charge’s Cheyenne Skidmore in particular was faster with the ball than any of the opposing players without, and it was no surprise that she assisted on the first two goals and scored the third.
Come the second half, though, and a combination of a more defensive-oriented Lions strategy and poor finishing by Chesapeake limited the scoring, though the visitors scored in the 62nd and 74th minutes. But, as head coach Tim Wittman observed after the game, “It could have been 22-1″ given the number of times Charge shots went off the woodwork or straight to the goalkeeper.
Goalscorers Laura Kane and Alexa Quaranta converge on Kaelyn Pizarro
The home team would finally get on the boards with their first goal in team history in the 84th minute. Asia Fort – who despite being a mere 15 years old was the most impressive player on the team – brought the ball to the top right corner of the box, drawing the defense’s attention, then sent a square ball over to the left where Demetra Tsipianitis fired it in over second-half goalkeeper Lyndse Hokanson and under the crossbar.
Meanwhile, the Charge goals were scored and assisted respectively by: Moore (Skidmore), Moore (Skidmore), Skidmore (Kane), Kane (Hnatiuk), Prior-Brown (Hadaway), Quaranta (unassisted), and Read (Hadaway).
I asked Kane what the team could take from a game like this. “We obviously had a lot of opportunities in and around goal, so I think we definitely treated it more like a training session and just tried to play our own game and keep the pace of the game high. In a situation like this, you kind of have to raise your own level to get something out of it. We learned some things today. I definitely think more than anything we learned what we need to continue to work on. And I think finishing is definitely one of those.”
Alexis Prior-Brown (far right) misses high on one of many of the Charge’s unsuccessful second-half chances
Kane noted that the Charge were a fairly young team, and I interrupted, “Not as young as this team!” She laughed. “Yeah, I’m clearly the oldest person on the field, but ohmigosh I bet some of them might be half my age.” “Asia Fort is 15,” I pointed out. “Well, there you go. I’m 30.”
The Charge next play the Lancaster Inferno on Sunday, June 2, at 2 pm, on their home field at Arundel High School.
The next game for the Lions Swarm is on Saturday, June 1, at 6:30 pm (or is it 6?), as they host the Philadelphia Fever.