1-0 victory caps three-game win streak for Alliance
With heavy rain pouring down on the players, Charlottesville Alliance FC used a penalty in the final minute of the game to edge FC Baltimore 1-0 in a closely contested match at Charlottesville High School.
FC Baltimore started off strong from the kickoff, applying high pressure on the home team and dominating possession in the early stages. The Alliance struggled to keep up with Baltimore’s pressure and quick tempo but seemed to find their bearings at the 25-minute mark with a couple of chances orchestrated down the right side enabled by the influential midfielder Joe Bell and the dangerous wing play of Carson Jeffris.
Bell created some fantastic chances for his team and was a nightmare for the opposing team with his great decision-making and tough defense. Baltimore created a number of near chances in transition, looking dangerous with their wing play and earning a dangerous free kick just outside the area at the end of the half, which ultimately never worried Alliance goalkeeper Jake Gelnovatch.
The second half seemed to repeat the pattern of the first, as FC Baltimore kept the heavy pressure on and forced Charlottesville to play at their pace. A scoring chance came for Baltimore with a free kick just outside of the penalty box, but ended with the ball clanging off the post.
With Bell orchestrating, Charlottesville began to assert itself, maintaining possession and changing the field near the 55-minute mark. As the rain subsided and the pitch slowed down, the game became increasingly physical. Baltimore’s midfielder Joshua Fawole made some incredible plays for his club on the defensive and offensive side of the ball but was constantly denied by Charlottesville’s organized defense which seemed to be impenetrable during the last 25 minutes of the match.
With neither team having scored and the match now entering its final minutes of extra time, the expectation was that the match would go into overtime. As the clock ticked away, Charlottesville pushed the ball up the pitch and gave it to Joe Bell on the left wing where he attempted to cross from inside the penalty box. The ball hit a defender’s hand and the referee awarded the penalty. Club captain Fernando Casero chose to take the shot and, in the dead silence of the high-pressure moment, finished emphatically. The game ended a few seconds after and Charlottesville took the win on their home field.
Coach Jon Atkinson of Charlottesville had this to say after the game when asked about how his team played.
“We asked our guys to challenge themselves, to be more disciplined and execute on both sides of the field, which I think we saw tonight.”
After his game winning penalty, Fernando Casero reflected on his mindset when the match looked like it would end scoreless.
“I thought we deserved more, we had clear chances to score, like one or two to get ahead but the ball didn’t go in so we were getting kinda nervous. But we knew how to handle it and at the end we got the reward.”
Contributor: Charlottesville Alliance FC
Photo Credit: Andrew Kinback