By First State FC
The First State FC Midnight Riders – the first NPSL team in the First State – opened their inaugural season at Wilmington’s new Abessinio Stadium with a 3-0 loss to Atlantic City FC. Despite falling three goals behind the Aces in the first half, the Midnight Riders refocused their efforts at halftime, and shut out the New Jersey team in the second half.
“I’m very proud of our second half performance today,” said Head Coach Abdul Faisal Chibsah, “I thought we lost the physical battle, especially in the first half, against a very good and energetic Atlantic City team. But in the end, we came back out in the second half and rose to the challenge of chasing the game down three goals.”
Looking ahead to future matchups, Chibsah noted, “As newcomers, we have gotten a taste of the NPSL, and we now know what to expect going into our second game.”
“Our first NPSL game showed us that in order to win, we have to be better at creating opportunities,” said First State FC President and General Manager Dave Holloway.
While the Aces had six shots on goal, First State had only one shot on goal.
“We are of course disappointed in the final score, but our side played incredibly well in the second half, and we will look to build on that,” Holloway said.
The forecast called for rain, and an afternoon storm blew through Wilmington just hours before kickoff. But soon the skies cleared for the pregame program where New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, a soccer fan himself, welcomed fans. The start of the game marked the first time since 2016 that Delaware had its own semi-pro soccer club.
First State FC was originally intended to launch in 2020, but plans were cut short when the entire 2020 NPSL season was cancelled. As the club’s owners reworked plans from the ground up, the question was not whether the team would play in 2021, it was how. The result was a club and a team driven by community. That emphasis was apparent Saturday night as fans from across Delaware came out to welcome the state’s newest sports team.
“The atmosphere was incredible,” Holloway shared. “Despite the weather, we welcomed hundreds of fans. The enthusiasm we have seen from the community has meant the world to those of us who have spent years working to build this club. In addition to offering families the opportunity to enjoy a fun and affordable sporting event, First State FC will create opportunities for Delaware’s youth to engage with the sport, and hopefully grow to love soccer.”
First State FC is sponsored by local Delaware businesses Delaware Orthopaedic Specialists (DOS), IncNow, Gonser and Gonser Law, and Elite PT. The Midnight Riders now face both FC Motown and West Chester United SC away before returning to Abessinio Stadium on May 29, 2021 to face FC Monmouth. Tickets for the 2021 season are available at tickets.firststatefc.com.
Photo Credit: Katie Riggan