By Olin Gay/First State FC
The Mid-Atlantic Conference matchup between First State FC and Virginia Beach City FC featured two excellent set-piece finishes, one in each half. Under the afternoon sun at Abessinio Stadium, Virginia Beach City led at the break, but the Midnight Riders ramped up the pressure in the second half and scored a late equalizer, earning points in consecutive games and showing steady improvement under head coach Dan Frick.
The game started with the teams trading a few corners and keeping a compact defensive shape. Both teams showed their physicality going into challenges, and after a few fouls, Paul Young picked up the first yellow card for First State in the 14th minute. But soon after, the Midnight Riders started to control possession and attack through quick passing in the midfield. They were quick to jump on turnovers from VB City, and Ben Asante of First State had back-to-back long-range shots sail over the crossbar.
It was Virginia Beach City that ended up breaking the deadlock. They won a free kick a few yards outside First State’s box, and Jesse Miralrio hit the ball low to the near post and just outside the reach of goalkeeper Gianluca Cersosimo in the 36th minute. As soon as the game restarted, VB City started to play more defensively, and First State broke into the box twice before the halftime whistle.
The second half started with First State pushing the tempo and generating corners, free kicks and forcing several saves from Virginia Beach City. The visitors weathered the flurry of chances and came back into the game around the 70th minute, where back-to-back set pieces were cleared by the Midnight Riders. But with a few substitutions, First State gathered momentum behind the home fans and played down the left side of the VB City defense. Yohan Kim, one of the Midnight Riders’ liveliest attackers, forced a corner off a pair of defenders and lined up to take it. The ball to the back post found the head of Oryel Kilama, and he nodded it down into the goal in the 80th minute, leveling the score 1-1.
The final 10 minutes and stoppage time featured multiple substitutions and long breaks, but few opportunities for either team.
“I thought the boys competed well tonight,” Frick said after the game. “Going down a goal to a tough team is never easy so to see us get the equalizer in the 80th minute was rewarding.”
Despite the game finishing in a draw, Frick added that “it shows the hard work the boys have been putting in and the belief they have in each other.”
First State FC is sponsored by local Delaware businesses Delaware Orthopaedic Specialists (DOS), IncNow, Gonser and Gonser Law, and Elite PT. The Midnight Riders’ next home game is July 2nd against Grove Soccer United. Tickets for the game are available at tickets.firststatefc.com.
Photo Credit: Type One Photography