By Tyler Andreas/Jackson Lions FC
On June 10th, the Jackson Lions welcomed Keystone newcomers First State FC to Donovan Catholic High School for the first of two back-to-back meetings between the two clubs. A win over First State would put Jackson right back in the mix with nine points. Luckily, the return of forward and Notre Dame man Daniel Russo offered up some confidence for the home side stepping into the match.
Jackson Lions manager Brad Fraley was enthused about Russo’s return to the squad and was full of praise for the young forward who just returned from a trip to Europe with his college team where they experienced facing the likes of Real Madrid’s second team.
“His best quality is his movement, on and off the ball,” Fraley said. “He times his runs perfectly, and I think that is going to help us get in behind these guys and make some space for Davey (Nigro).”
In addition to Dan Russo, Chris Katona returned after years out of the Lions Squad, and Rafael Ponce De Leon got his first start.
The Lions came out flying with a 7th minute goal after some amazing combination play from Kenny Hot and Tommy Johnson who had a ton of joy going down the left flank in the early minutes. Johnson, after being set free by Hot, fed Dave Nigro right across the face of goal and left him with the tap-in.
The Lion’s dominance continued with a goal from Jules Anderson in the 29th minute after a swift move, down the right flank this time, through Olu Ogunwale that was facilitated by the creativity of Hot and Dave Nigro.
Anderson struck once again in the 45th minute after Jack Krongold swept the ball into the feet of Hot, who laid it off for the goal scorer to take his chance with composure.
First State showed some fight but ultimately never were able to get any momentum going at all in the first half.
The second half started with the Lions replacing Dan Russo with Miguel Diaz after Russo spent some time on the trainer’s table during the first half. Fraley clarified that this was just a precautionary substitution.
First State were awarded a penalty right after the restart when Giuseppe Barone pulled back an attacking player, and they converted. They scored again in the 51st minute following a swift counter attack.
If not for an incredible save from Ponce De Leon in between all this, the game would have been tied not ten minutes into the second half as First State continued applying heavy pressure on the Lions back line. This was something that the home side clearly was not expecting as they took the pitch.
In this period, Fraley decided to make some changes with Kevin Kappock and Junior Miranda replacing Barone and Ogunwale in the 56th minute. His changes seemed to work as Anderson completed the hat trick in the 64th minute, assisted by Dave Nigro.
Following this, Chris Katona, Jared Brown, and Matt Nigro entered the game to see out the remainder of proceedings and help secure the important three points.
Miguel Diaz, who struggled to adjust to the game after coming on at halftime got his goal in the 67th minute after being fed through by a perfectly threaded pass by Hot from deep.
Hot scored the sixth goal in the 76th minute to put the final nail in the First State coffin, assisted by Matt Nigro.
The Lions return to action on Tuesday, June 13 with a road match against First State FC.
Photo Credit: Tyler Andreas/Jackson Lions FC