By J’Mar Smith/FC Baltimore Christos
FC Baltimore Christos was back at home as it took on the only other unbeaten team in the conference, Northern Virginia United. This game was all out of sorts before the game even got started. After a last minute change of venue, Christos had its work cut out for them facing a team coming off a sizable victory. The start of the game seemed to foreshadow what we would see throughout the game.
Early on things seemed to be a bit shuffled as neither team could make headway. This seemed to be a trend for Christos. In the early minutes of the half Northern Virginia looked to attack the outside of the defense, which seemed to work. Even with this slight success it amounted to nothing as the Christos defense collapsed on the ball and forced numerous arrant kicks. With both teams looking to break this stalemate of the unbeatens, forward Kelan Swales made himself known, scoring the first goal of the game. This was Swales’ season debut and he made the most of it, scoring on his first time out.
Swales was excited to get out there and do what was needed to help the team win.
“It was clutch to be able to score and help the team,” Swales explained. “I think I’ve improved my decision making, attacking players with the ball and dribbling past them and [knowing] when to pass the ball and cross it.”
As the smoke cleared from a fan celebration, the defense was back in full effect as Christos continued making it hard for Northern Virginia United to find a clean look at the goal. There was a moment when NVU had three opportunities to score and missed on every chance. There was a second where the score would have been tied had it not been for goalkeeper Jake Boyle catching an easy save. As the game went to the half the home team Christos led the visiting Northern Virginia United 1-0.
Remember how the first half seemed to be a “foreshadow” of the entire game? Well, that turned out to be misleading. The energy that Christos came out with led to a spark no one saw coming. Head coach Larry Sancomb made a few changes to the lineup in the second half, and it looked to pay off for the team. One of the substitutes even got in on the scoring, but more on that in a second.
The score sat at 1-0 until the team-leading scorer, midfielder Ben Bender, decided to show his offensive prowess, scoring off a pass inside that led to a goal in the bottom corner of the net. Bender has scored in each of the team’s games, showing what kind of talent this team has. The second half continued to show how much the defense has improved for Baltimore. One of Baltimore’s substitutes, attacker Brady O’Conner, had masses of energy that proved too difficult for Northern Virginia United as he created problems when it came to sticking to whoever is in his space.
Another substitute who added to NVU’s troubles was midfielder Matthew Brummet who scored the third goal of the game with an assist to midfielder Kevin Medrano. This comradery of FC Baltimore Christos is something Coach Sancomb has enjoyed seeing from his players.
“I think that when you love and [you] care for someone you will always play harder and that is what has made Christos good in the past,” Sancomb said.
As time ticked away the defense that had been present all game put the nail in the coffin as Northern Virginia United had a few looks at a goal but FC Baltimore Christos was having none of it as they denied them a score and secured their third shutout of the season. This defense has been impressive, giving up zero goals through three games and allowing fewer than eight shots at the goal. FC Baltimore finished with 15 shots at goal with eight on target, while Northern Virginia United was held to seven shots with only two on target. Three different players scored for the Christos.
This victory pushes FC Baltimore Christos to 3-0 on the season and makes them the only unbeaten team left in the conference. The team will look to continue their winning ways as they head on the road to face Northern Virginia United.
Photo Credit: FC Baltimore Christos