By Scott Wilson/ Erie Commodores FC
Going into the game knowing their future was already sealed by results in previous games, the
Commodores could play this game without any pressure and try and end the season on a high. A
double from Praguian forward Ivo Mendoza and strikes from Gabriel Peres and Owen Connelly
were thought to have been enough to seal the victory on Saturday night. That was until
momentum shifted in the fourth minute of injury time when Michael Cunningham would score
off two exquisite free kicks within two minutes of each other to tie the game for the Lancers.
The game itself was a great spectacle for the neutral, the game had it all, including two second-
half red cards to Erie defenders Joe Bell and George Stannard.
From the beginning, Erie took control and established strong possession dictating play. With the
first meaningful chance of the game coming in the second minute after good play down the left
side lead to a good delivery into the box from Peres but his cross couldn’t find the destined
target. The first chance for the Lancers came in the 12th minute when Rochester would have a
free kick from 20 yards out, but it was comfortable save for Ralph.
The Commodores began to control the game, having the majority of possession in the Lancers’
half and would break the deadlock in the 24th minute after English forward Will Stone would
jinx past a couple of defenders before slipping a pass into the feet of Peres, who would neatly
finish into the bottom right corner from close range. It was a 1-0 lead for the Erie Commodores.
The Commodores would double their lead only six minutes later through a Mendoza header,
assisted again by Stone. The Englishman would beat his man to the end line before whipping a
cross to the near post. This was met by the head of Mendoza; it was a cleverly converted header
by the Eastern New Mexico forward who beat the goalkeeper at the near post.
The Erie side would score a third right on the stroke of halftime through Mendoza again..
Mendoza would find himself played through in front of goal after neat build-up play down the
left side from Stannard and Ashley Phillips with the latter playing in Mendoza 12 yards from
goal. Mendoza would finish underneath the Lancers keeper and the Commodores would go in at
halftime with a 3-0 lead.
The second half started with a lackadaisical feel about it with both teams’ fates already sealed
and the tempo had gone flat. This would change in the 53 rd minute when Rochester would get on
the scoreboard after a counterattack down the right side was swiftly finished by the Rochester
forward out of the reach of Chris Ralph. it was now a 3-1 lead for the Commodores.
Erie would continue to control the game after the opposition goal, but 15 minutes later the game
would change after Bell received a straight red for a last man challenge. Only two minutes after
being reduced to 10 men, the Commodores would concede again after nice build-up play
exploited the extra space left by the sending off. This would lead to an easy finish for the
Rochester forward. it was now a 3-2 lead for Erie.
Erie begin to manage the player deficit much better for the next 10 minutes. They began to look
more comfortable and would see themselves in a much more comfortable position after a wonder
strike from Connelly would reinstate the Commodores’ two-goal lead in the 79 th minute.
Connelly would pick up the ball 25 yards out on the right side before curling a powerful effort
right into the keeper’s top right corner for the 4-2 lead.
It appeared that Erie would hold on to their two-goal lead for the remaining 10 minutes.
However after conceding a foul in the 90 th minute. Cunningham would fire his free kick into the
top corner from 20 yards out to cut the lead to 4-3.
Stannard would be shown his second yellow card in as many minutes moments later and would
be sent off, leading to another free kick. And just like moments before Cunningham would fire
the resulting free kick into the roof off the net leaving substitute goalkeeper Corrales no chance
with either. The final result was a 4-4 draw as both sides left with a point.
This result sums up the Commodores season rather well. With every high point, there was a low
point. The season could not match the heroics of previous years and ultimately come up short of
expectations, but that shouldn’t take away from the effort of players and staff members over the
past few months. The Commodores look forward to re-writing these wrongs next season.
Photo Credit: Jennifer White/Acacia Studios