By Alexandria Reds
Alexandria Reds played host to Northern Virginia United FC in the Mid-Atlantic Conference Final on Saturday night. Dark clouds and rainy skies left both teams uncertain how this match would play out.
With the sound of the first whistle both teams were ready to fight, and that they did. The Reds opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a goal from Daniel Tshiani, and it was assisted by Oscar Haynes-Brown. Just two minutes later, midfielder Chris Barnard capitalized on a poor clearance attempt by NVUFC and hit an outside-the-box strike off the post to make the score 2-0.
NVUFC midfielder Marcos Villeda responded with a goal in the 27th minute. Less than a minute later, Barnard earned a brace with an assist from Haynes-Brown to make it 3-1.
NVUFC continued to battle. Carter Berg scored in the 32nd minute, and James Quill made it level at 3-3 with a goal in the 39th minute.
In stoppage time of the first half, Reds’ midfielder Evan Paez found left back Miles Lam who had space on the left side and scored from 25 yards out to send the Reds into halftime leading 4-3.
NVUFC came out strong in the second half with a goal from Ryan Kiely in the 54th minute to level it again at 4-4. Both sides continued to push for a goal, knowing the trophy was just within reach. Villeda earned himself a brace in the 87th minute, scoring what most thought would be the final goal in this rollercoaster of a match.
Reds supporters continued chanting, pushing the team to find their second wind. With the 90th minute approaching, the Reds earned a corner kick. A mix-up in the box saw Barnard earn a hat trick to make it 5-5. Pushing to avoid extra time, the Reds had one final chance. Forward Seni Joseph dribbled down the right side, made his way into the box, beat the defender, and found Haynes-Brown for the game-winning goal. The Reds supporters shouted in excitement and ran to the corner to join in on the pile of players and fans in celebration. With mixed emotions, the Reds met on the field in triumph and raised their trophy high.
Reds General Manager Leland Creadick shared his thoughts on the 11-goal thriller.
“This was the craziest game I have ever been a part of,” Creadick said. “Our guys gave everything until the final whistle. The supporters, our 12th man, braved awful conditions and stuck with us. This win is for the organization and the city of Alexandria. We will continue to push for more and look forward to what lies ahead.”
The Reds have earned the opportunity to host the NPSL East Region Semifinal on Wednesday, July 20th. The Reds will face Appalachian FC, champions of the NPSL’s Southeast Conference. The winner will play in the East Region Final on July 23rd.
Photos Courtesy of Alexandria Reds