Rocket City Refresher: Huntsville defeats Carolina Core FC 4-1

At long last, the Rocket City’s long nightmare is over. It took 279 days and 16 games, but Huntsville City FC’s losing streak finally ended. The Boys in Blue met Carolina Core FC on an occasion they themselves are familiar with, as Carolina was opening their new stadium in front of a large and engaged crowd. Christophe Berra and his players came to spoil the housewarming party. Let’s dive in.

The XI

The lineup saw two changes from the defeat to Orlando City B. Joel Sangwa returned to the lineup at right back, pushing Faiz Opande inside to centerback and Chris Applewhite to the bench. Elsewhere, Cannon Scretchen was given the start ahead of Ollie Wright on the left wing.

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On the pitch

Huntsville started brightly, with Cannon Scretchen putting an effort just wide in the fourth minute. Carolina Core fired back with an effort of their own going off target eight minutes later. Then things died down for quite a while.

It wasn’t until the 41st minute that either team again saw a clear chance, and it was Huntsville. Jonathan Bolaños got on the end of a long ball and, truthfully I’ve watched this particular shot I don’t know how many times, and maybe it’s the camera angle failing me, I cannot tell how on earth the ball didn’t go in the net.

Carolina followed six minutes later and forced Ben Martino to produce a highlight quality save of his own.After the break, things picked up fast. Five minutes into the second half, Carolina won a corner, which was played to the back post where Angel Aguas’ free header put the hosts in front.

Huntsville quickly replied in the 56th minute, as Bolaños got on the end of another long ball and found Forster Ajago who smashed it home to equalize.

Then, in the 64th minute, it was Bolaños again assisting as he got on the end of a rebound from a shot by Ollie Wright, and then laid it off to Tyler Pasnik to thunder into goal for 2-1.

Carolina nearly pulled off an instant reply of their own but Jacob Evans’ 68th minute free kick went wide.

Things got quiet again for a while, with nothing really troubling either keeper too much. Ben Martino was forced to palm away a shot in the 74th minute, and Ollie Wright dragged an effort wide in the 80th.

Then, as Carolina threw numbers forward to get a result for their fans, Huntsville found opportunity. Ollie Wright sent a ball forward that looked easy for Carolina goalscorer Angel Aguas to claim, but Adem Sipic beat him to the ball, played himself in, and finished his one-on-one chance to make it 3-1 in the 91st minute.

Then again, three minutes later, Wright played the ball long. This time, Forster Ajago beat the offside trap, and laid it off to Sipic to make it 4-1 and give the teenager a brace.

Huntsville had finally done it!

Key performers

As far as performances, discussion has to start up front. This was a team that, coming in, hadn’t seen anyone other than Forster Ajago score a goal since Brennan Creek did so against Crown Legacy FC on April 13th. Getting a goal out of Tyler Pasnik and two from Adem Sipic is huge moving forward.

At this point, Ajago seems like a safe bet to average at least a goal every 90 minutes as long as he’s in Huntsville and healthy. That shouldn’t be a problem. The problem, much like the first team has seen with Hany Mukhtar at times, is secondary production.

Tyler Pasnik has looked incredibly bright since arriving, I’d imagine that goal will only further bolster him. Adem Sipic has looked, at times, a bit low on confidence while he’d been on his scoring drought, which if you didn’t know, had lasted since Huntsville’s opening game against Chattanooga. A lot of strikers really just need to see the ball hit the back of the net to rebuild confidence. So one goal would’ve really helped, but to get that second was huge.

One of the most encouraging aspects of Sipic’s first goal was actually how he celebrated. He, along with all his teammates, ran to embrace Christophe Berra. Just knowing that, despite it all, the players still believed in their head coach is nice to see. Of course, credit for the attacking output also has to be shared with Jonathan Bolaños and Ollie Wright, both of whom played some of their best soccer in weeks.

The most improved unit, however, was the backline. Obviously, welcome back Joey Skinner, but there were no other changes to the back four besides his substitution for Tomas Ritondale.

Chris Applewhite, who has probably been Huntsville’s best defender not named Scott Cheevers, sat on the bench for the entire 90 minutes. Whether that was for health reasons or whatever it may be, Huntsville kept one of their best defenders out of the game entirely and still only conceded one goal. That’s worthy of praise.

Author: Ronan Briscoeis a contributor for Broadway Sports, and a founding contributor at SoundwaveSoccer.com, where he covers Nashville SC, Huntsville City FC and Nashville's youth academy.

Comments

  1. LETSSSS GOOOOOO!!! About time the youths caught a dub. All we needed was the first one!! Attempting to cherry pick some stats so here me out buttttt HCFC is now 4-2 during Pride Month all time outscoring opponents 16-8.

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