With twenty-nine competitive teams playing in a competitive league, what’s better than watching two top teams come together? How about a game that provides seat gripping, teeth chattering emotion? Well that’s just what the Hammerheads and NY Red Bulls II gave the Port City crowd on Friday night at Legion Stadium.
The NY Red Bulls II arrived in Wilmington on April 22nd with an undefeated standing in the 2016 USL league, and maintained that undefeated reputation with a close 1-0 win against the Hammerheads.
Young Hammerhead’s midfielder, #8 Mael Corboz, has brought a lot of fresh, creative power to the centerfield this season, but it was Man of the Match, #10 Justin Moose, who brought endurance and determination to tonight’s game. Corboz grew with the MLS academy, graduating and playing for the University of Maryland, and was part of the Red Bulls developmental league. Unfortunately with an already strong standing midfield, Corboz was released where the Hammerheads didn’t hesitate to pick him up. Corboz explained, “I have been able to grow and learn with the Hammerheads. Knowing how strong the Red Bulls II team is, having played with such talent, I knew going into tonight’s game was going to be a challenge for us to overcome.” He continued, “Despite a difficult first half, we came out determined and strong the second half, making NY earn their win.”
NY held a one-point lead over Wilmington before the 7pm kick-off. The Hammerheads started choppy as the Red Bulls established a strong offensive push. Entering the second half scoreless, NY saw an unexpected and revamped Wilmington team start the second half with resiliency. Regardless of the Hammerhead’s offensive hunger, Corboz’s former teammate, #36 Dan Metzger, scored in the 58th minute lighting a necessary fire under both teams.
After Metzger’s goal, emotions soared on and off the field, with difficult calls from the referees and a yellow card on Wilmington’s #47 Ashani Fairclough in the 72nd minute. Shortly after, entering during the 78th minute, #7 Austin Martz, subbed for #6 Liam Miller, playing for the Hammerheads for his first time this season. General Manager Jason Arnold stated, “We are excited to have finalized his transfer from his previous club in Malta and officially joining the Hammerheads.”
After all was said and done, emotions simmered, Hammerhead’s Head Coach Mark Briggs elaborated, “We knew it was going to be a hard game. They’re a good team and made that known from the beginning of the game. All we can do is re-group and figure out how to maintain the energy and skill we had in the second half.”