By Carter Hochman/Valeo FC
It was a 70 degree and humid 7:00 pm kickoff at the Valeo Sports Complex in Newton, Massachusetts between Valeo FC and Hartford City FC. The day had been filled with intense rain and thunderstorms which provided a slick playing surface for 90 minutes.
Both teams would struggle initially to find a rhythm or any passing continuity for the first 20 minutes. Both teams would land a few shots on net but both Zach Rowell of Valeo and Jamis Fite of Hartford would stand strong.
Hartford City’s Mark Grant would find the back of the net coming off a set piece at the end of the first half. A ball would be sent into the box only to be cleared out to Grant who would bend the ball around multiple Valeo defenders, screening goalkeeper Zach Rowell and finding the bottom corner to end the half.
Hartford would finish the first half with ten shots, while Valeo would finish with three.
That’s not where the goals would stop, however. Once the second half began, it was clear that whatever pep talk was given to Valeo worked. Valeo FC came out with a much more positive and fluid scheme creating more chances. The goal would finally come for Valeo in the 60th minute as Jodel Brown scored his third on the season.
Valeo would continue to push to take the lead after a chippy and determined start to the second half, but that goal just continued to evade them. Both teams began to find their legs late in the game as the set pieces began to pile up.
In the 90th minute, however, Hartford City’s Alec Hughes would burst the bubble of the impending draw between the two top-seeded clubs and give Hartford a 2-1 lead. Hughes’ goal turned out to be the game-winning goal. Hartford now takes sole possession of first place in the North Atlantic Conference as they remain undefeated. Valeo would take their first defeat of the season, falling to second place.
Valeo FC is on the road in New York next week to take on Kingston Stockade FC for the first time this season.
Photo Credit: Ben Reimann/Valeo FC