By J’Mar Smith/FC Baltimore Christos
In a game that gave many fans high blood pressure it allowed for a sigh of relief as FC Baltimore Christos clinched the regular season title against the Virginia Beach City FC.
VBCFC struggled to contain the Baltimore offensive charge early on. After a flurry of the chances, FCBC broke through in the 14th minute of play when midfielder Ben Stitz converted from a beautiful pass from fellow midfielder Ben Bender.
VBCFC was able to settle in after the goal and played phenomenal defensively. Virginia Beach were happy to sit back while Baltimore possessed, and limited any real chances for the remainder of the half. In the 35th minute, Virginia Beach tied the game on a quick counter attacking run finished by Sheriff Secka. At the half it looked to be anybody’s game as the relentless pressure from the visiting team kept the shots to a minimum.
That same flow carried into the second half, as VBCFC continued to be stout defensively and explosive on the counter. Virginia Beach’s Prince Idornigie made the most of a rare attempt on target and gave the visitors the lead in the 71st minute. With just 15 minutes to play, FCBC found themselves in uncharted territory as they trailed by a goal for the first time all season.
The crowd sat on the edge of their seats as head coach Larry Sancomb adjusted his tactics and threw everything forward.
Stitz refused to go down without a fight as he tied the game back up on an assist from substitute midfielder Matthew Brummet. The pinpoint cross found the feet of the FCBC no. 9 and he tucked it past Coulson for his brace. Stitz felt like this was the perfect time to show off his scoring ability.
“I’ve been trying to get into better spots and put myself in better positions to score, especially in games like this,” Stitz explained.
With the game now deadlocked at 2-2, and the crowd cheering after every Christos run, you sense it would only be a matter of time before they answered the crowd’s cheers. The answer was more incredible than you could possibly imagine.
As the ball bounced around the box, it pinballed to the direction of midfielder Alejandro Arbelaez, who pulled off a stunning volley that nestled into the top corner, giving Baltimore the lead for good in the 87th minute of play. With the final whistle blown, fans cheered and the green smoke filled the air as FCBC had finally completed the three-peat, winning the regular season title for the third year in a row. Arbelaez was all smiles following the victory.
“This is amazing,” Arbealez said. “I just had to go for the shot. I hadn’t shot all game so I just went for it. We know if we just kept doing the right things that we could change the whole game, it was just a matter of time.”
In one of the biggest games this season, Christos saved their best for last in this come-from-behind victory. The team will head back on the road to take on Northern Virginia United.
Photo Credit: Sean Maslin