By Central Florida Panthers SC
The Panthers traveled to Miami Gardens, FL to face Magia FC on a brutally hot Saturday evening. As long trips are always difficult, the heat made for an especially difficult start as the Panthers came out very sluggish and the home team did very well to come out on the front foot. While possession was controlled by the Panthers in the first half, poor turnovers were key in providing Magia with multiple opportunities. Ultimately in the 41st minute a poor giveaway enabled Magia to get to a sprinting Rivaldo Ibarra on the wing who was able to sprint past center back Kelvin Zinck. From a very difficult angle, Ibarra placed a perfect ball just past the outstretched hands of GK Konstantinos Parisis to open up the score line. At the break, the home team led 1-0.
The character of this team was truly tested. Down 1-0 at the half in such conditions the team didn’t panic. They gathered themselves and made a conscious decision to battle for each other and increase the tempo and take the game to Magia. Two minutes into the second half a beautiful 17-pass sequence led midfielder Bryan Moreira to score a gorgeous shot from just inside the 18 with an assist by Fritz Paul. That quick goal was the spark needed as only two minutes later striker Kevin Kelly received a deflected ball outside the 18, and he displayed a phenomenal individual effort around four Magia players before striking from 16 yards out past the Magia goalkeeper to bring the score line to 2-1. This was Kelly’s third goal in the last two games, and the Panthers didn’t look back.
Multiple opportunities were being created. However, Magia’s goalkeeper did very well to keep the score line from increasing until the 62nd minute when defender Anthony Facundo Piñeyro scored his second goal in two games off of a corner kick assisted by Jacob Restrepo.
This game also featured the season debut of Lorenzo Amaral, the soon-to-be high school senior is the second 17-year-old to debut for the Panthers this season, joining Ryan Avallone who debuted on May 28. At 17 years and 74 days old, Amaral became the youngest player to ever play for the Panthers in an NPSL fixture, and it didn’t take long for everyone to realize the talent he possesses as he was quick to create multiple opportunities and almost score himself.
In the 88th minute one opportunity he created did come to fruition as his vision allowed him to see Gabriel Toro streaking across the field, and he placed the ball perfectly. Toro took the ball, cut in around his defender striking the ball off the post but a fortunate deflection off the post came right back to him, and he hammered home the rebound.
After a foul about 25 yards out, defender and man of the match Branddon Silva Ortiz stepped up in the 90th minute to take the free kick. His shot hit the wall, deflecting straight back when he smashed it into the lower right corner to make it 5-1.
It was truly a tale of two halves as the Panthers were only able to get off three shots in the first half and finished with 17 shots, including 12 on target. The supporters who traveled to attend the game were truly rewarded with that performance.
“It’s always tough going on the road,” Panthers head coach Tom Traxler said. “We struggled through the first half but found our rhythm in the second. I’m proud of the guys. We made five changes from the side that won last week, and they rewarded themselves today. We have to really focus now and get ready for another very difficult match away again next Saturday.”
With three games left in the regular season, the Panthers are in the hunt for their first playoff appearance. They hit the road again next week when they play Miami Dutch Lions Saturday, June 25 at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah, FL with a kickoff at 6:00 pm.
Stay tuned to our social media channels for what’s ahead for the Panthers!
Photo Credit: Logan Hasselbach/Central Florida Panthers SC