Boston City FC’s third season in the NPSL seemed to be going nowhere fast after four games. The Lions were winless and had been shut out three times, including a 6-0 home pasting from the Brooklyn Italians on June 3.
But Boston City FC found its footing in taking a 2-0 victory over Hartford City FC at Malden Catholic High School’s Brother Gilbert Stadium on Saturday night. BCFC (1W-3L-1D, 4 points) retained its playoff hopes with the upset result, but did not take Hartford City FC (4-1-0, 12 points) coach Christian Benjamin by surprise.
“It’s an upset in the table but in terms of the quality of the sides, there’s no doubt Boston is a quality team,” Benjamin said. “Last year, it took us until about the 88th minute to score the game-winner [in the NPSL playoffs]. I think this game, if we had put away a couple chances early, the outcome could have been different. But at end of the day, Boston is the team that put the ball in the back of the net.”
Isaac “Nana” Addai sparked the Boston City attack, scoring his second goal of the season, and former New York Red Bulls and UConn goalkeeper Jacob Wagmeister steadied the defense in his first start. Addai played in an advanced midfield role, combining with Santiago Cardona as BCFC found a consistent attacking rhythm for one of the few times this season.
Addai set up Cardona in the opening minute, then fired a 50-yarder that was saved by Carlton D’Ambrosio, starting in place of Hami Kara, in the third minute. Hartford City threatened as Sebastian Stezewski crashed a shot off the bar off a Connor Archambault 14th-minute cross.
Rigoberto Jimenez opened the scoring in the first minute of the second half, nailing a shot into the left side of the net off a botched clearance. The play was set up as a Jadson Leite free kick had been touched on by Gabriel De Souza, the clearance going directly to Jimenez just outside the penalty area.
Six minutes later, Addai found Cardona, whose shot was deflected by D’Ambrosio, then cleared with the net open. Cardona was replaced by Wallah Randolph in the 57th minute, Randolph adding a threat on the right, and assisting on the second goal.
Hartford began finding chances, playing through Georgetown University midfielder Ryan Strasser, who entered as a substitute. Luke Alvaro and Andrew Geres had opportunities, both shots ending up in Wagmeister’s possession.
Addai scored in the 80th minute, finishing back post off a low Randolph cross, following Michael Rincon’s driving run on the right.
The performance represented a strong recovery by Boston City FC, which had used three goalkeepers against the Brooklyn Italians.
“I was fortunate, I had to stick around and wait for my opportunity,” Wagmeister said. “There’s a lot of guys that were ahead of me. I just wanted to get the opportunity. I remember when I was in Nyack two years ago playing against these guys, and when I moved up here it was a no-brainer, I’ve got to try out for them. In the tryout, there were three guys ahead of me. When you get the opportunity, you’ve just got to take it and run with it.”
Boston City has used nine goalkeepers in three seasons, Wagmeister the first to earn a shutout in his debut.
“He’s composed, calm,” BCFC coach Palhinha said of Wagmeister. “Our team hasn’t played like that for a while, with the will to win, the desire, helping each other out. To get a win like that against Hartford, always a tough team to beat – to lose is horrible, and to lose by many goals, 6-0, is much worse. The most important thing is the players changed their attitude, and that was the difference.
“Now, everything’s changed. Now we have to work hard and we still have a chance to qualify and, hopefully, we can do it.”
At UConn, Wagmeister, 25, backed up Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union) and roomed with striker Cyle Larin (Besiktas). Among Wagmeister’s teammates was Hartford City defender Andrew Geres. Wagmeister started his post-collegiate career with New York Athletic Club, sustaining an Achilles tear two seasons ago, then took a job with a Boston software sales company last year.
“I missed the first week of preseason because of the company’s kickoff, then I had to travel to the West Coast for clients,” Wagmeister said. “I don’t think Palhinha knew that I was serious about staying, but those were obligations I had to attend to. Since I’ve been back I’ve been to every practice, just waiting for my opportunity to play.
“Playing at UConn, [coach] Ray Reid pushed me and I learned a lot. I just try to bring that here. Some of these guys don’t speak English but even if they don’t I think they understood me tonight.”
The goalkeeping position had been proving to be the least consistent of BCFC’s positions. Starter Wouter Dronkers has been in The Netherlands dealing with visa issues. Colan Balkwell was benched after the first half against Brooklyn Italians and Vitor Scariot was injured, leaving Jadson to fill the role late in last week’s match. But Wagmeister stabilized things against Hartford City.
“It would’ve changed the emotional team that is Boston,” Benjamin said. “If we could have scored early it could have deflated them, being the away team. But as the game progressed their belief they could stay in it and win became stronger and stronger. A poor clearance led to the goal early in the half, which was something we had to dig out of. Two quality sides. We’ve played four times, Boston has won twice, we won once, and drew once. If we play 10 times, we might split five out of five.”
Contributor: Frank Dell’Apa/NPSL.com
Photo Credit: Chris Aduama