By Breann McKeon/New York Shockers
After an intense 90-minute battle, the New York Shockers and Hartford City FC drew 0-0 in their second faceoff of the season on Saturday night at Afrim’s Sports Park.
Both teams anticipated this to be a competitive matchup, as their first face off this season on May 22 resulted in a 1-0 victory for the Shockers after forward Wisdom Ishaya put in the late game-winning goal in the 80th minute.
Hartford City FC came out on fire upon the opening whistle as their offense stormed the Shockers half and fired a low shot within the first thirty seconds but Shockers netminder Ryan Hemming made a diving save.
Aside from shutting down many attempts from Hartford, the Shockers defense played an integral role for the squad’s offense as they continuously sent nearly 50-yard long balls to their forwards throughout the first half.
The physicality intensified as the first half ensued which gave both sides loads of scoring opportunities off direct kicks but none were successful.
After a highly competitive first half, the score remained at 0-0. The teams were then presented with yet another challenge, as the rain began to pour just one minute into the second half which made the ball and turf pitch slippery.
While the second half proved to be as intense as the first with back to back scoring opportunities, it was the last minute of the match that had the spectators on their toes.
The last opportunity for the Shockers to score came in stoppage time as they fired a direct kick roughly 30 yards to their opponent’s net.
The Hartford FC goalkeeper made the save with a hard punch that connected the ball to one of their forwards, who then made a strong run towards the Shocker net with only seconds to spare. Hartford FC had a two-on-one opportunity to win the match in the last seconds.
When their forward slid a pass to an oncoming runner who took the final shot, Hemming made a stellar save before the whistle blew which earned him the shutout as the final score was 0-0.
“I had a feeling that play was coming after our last set piece,” Hemming said. “Luckily I made the save, and that was a great feeling.”
Head Coach Matt Esposito was impressed with the Shockers’ defensive performance as the squad focused heavily on defense this past week after their 4-3 loss last Saturday.
“The defensive performance was way better tonight,” Esposito said. “Having a shutout is great and we really pride ourselves on those. When we were at our best, we had three shutouts in a row.”
With three regular season matches remaining, the Shockers record now sits at 3-3-1.
“I know right now we’re struggling a bit, but I felt like tonight was a great step forward for the last few games of the season,” Shockers captain Justin Cebellero said.
The Shockers will hit the road to face Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds for the second time this season on Saturday, June 26.
Photo Credit: Amber Yarter/New York Shockers