Elias Norris scored game-winner in stoppage time as FC Frederick beats VBCFC for only the second time in seven seasons
By FC Frederick
After playing 90 minutes in 90-plus degree heat, Elias Norris was pretty much gassed. But he had one last run left in his legs, and it turned a sure draw into a stunning 2-1 victory for FC Frederick over Virginia Beach City FC in NPSL action Saturday.
FC Frederick was playing its season opener at a new home facility, Warner Stadium, on the campus of St. John’s Catholic Prep.
FC Frederick took a 1-0 lead in the third minute when Walkersville native and Millersville University player Spencer Shortt, capitalizing on a failed clearance by Virginia Beach City, caught the goalkeeper off his line and lopped a 30-yard shot into the goal.
The scoreline stayed the same until Virginia Beach City’s Ryan Mahon slid a shot under the arms of FC Frederick keeper Billy Wood to knot the score at 1-1 in the 54th minute.
FC Frederick’s defense was under pressure in the waning minutes, before everything flipped in a matter of seconds. Virginia Beach City’s John Waller ran past an FC Frederick defender on the right wing and launched a shot on FC Frederick’s goal. Wood, covering the near post, made a reaction save, parrying the ball away with his right hand. Instead of going out of bounds, the ball headed toward the far post where FC Frederick’s Dillon Nesteruk simply booted the ball out of danger and down the field. The long clearance bounced over a Virginia Beach City defender and onto the feet of Norris, who carried it the rest of the way, fended off a defender, and then slotted a shot into the near post for a 2-1 lead in extra time.
“I haven’t scored a game-winning goal like that in a long time,” said Norris, who plays for George Washington University. “Like middle school,” he added with a laugh.
“I saw the left back jump, and I knew he wasn’t going to get (the ball), so I took off,” Norris said. “I was holding off (a defender), looked up and saw the goalkeeper cheating to the left, so I shot near post.”
Only minutes before, Norris made a heady on-field decision that put him in position for the game-winner. Feeling tired and knowing he didn’t have the energy to track back on defense, the midfielder swapped spots with a late FC Frederick sub, who was fresh, allowing Norris to move into a forward role and limiting his amount of running late in the match.
Virginia Beach City had one last gasp at tying the match again, but Trevor Knight’s shot was off the mark only seconds before the final whistle.
The victory marked only the second time in seven seasons that FC Frederick has defeated Virginia Beach City, a perennial conference frontrunner. FC Frederick is 2-10-1 all-time against VBCFC, and the previous win and tie came in the 2018 season when FC Frederick won the conference title.
Shortt, who is in his third season with FC Frederick, energized the local team with his early strike for a 1-0 lead. Norris nearly made it 2-0 in the 27th minute when he deftly drilled around the keeper and took a shot into a seemingly open net, however, a defender was able to clear the ball off the goal line keeping it at 1-0.
Gonzalo Bartoli, a second-year FC Frederick player who is the University of Delaware keeper, made three first-half saves as FC Frederick took a 1-0 lead into halftime. Wood, who plays for Shepherd University, started the second half in goal and finished with four saves, none bigger than the final save that led to the winning goal.
The game-time temperature was 91 degrees, and it was even hotter on the turf field. The officials even added water breaks during the contest due to the conditions.
Photo Credit: FC Frederick