By Tyler Lewin
The Annapolis Blues defeated Grove United 6-1 at home on Sunday. With over 7,208 fans in attendance, the Blues continue their stay at the top of the conference.
The opening opportunity for the Blues came in the fourth minute of play, and Aidan Abril did not waste it. Francis Meyer was the recipient of a through ball that Eric Gwadz lifted over the Grove defense. Meyer snuck a pass into Jacob Murrell, whose initial shot was blocked by Grove United goalkeeper Austin Aaron. Abril received the rebound after Aaron mishandled it at his feet. He took a step into open space before shooting through opponents to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.
The Blues doubled the lead in the 11th minute. Murrell received a pass across the middle of the field before being fouled at the top of the box, setting up a free kick for the Blues. Matias De Jesus tried his luck from 23 yards out on the right side of the box, shooting at the back post. Aaron was left watching the ball go past him as it bounced into the back of the net.
In the 21st minute Justin Harris passed the ball to De Jesus, who took aim at goal from the edge of the 18-yard box. The rebound fell to Gordon Bernlohr who calmly placed the ball into the empty net to give the Blues a 3-0 lead. Another goal by the Blues came in the 27th minute with De Jesus playing provider. He swung the corner into the back post after taking it from the left side of the field. Jackson Ruckman connected with the corner, heading it past Aaron on the near post as he jumped above his defender.
Leo Palomo was pulled down in the penalty area in the 83rd minute after Evan Rabush took a fast free kick, catching Grove defenders off guard. Harris stepped up to the spot kick, leaving Aaron with no chance as Harris’ shot went into the top of the net. Ionie Muepu scored Grove’s lone goal in the 86th minute. Muepu, who was cutting inside from the right and finessed his shot into the bottom left corner, beat second-half substitute Connor Smith.
In the final stages of the match, Bernlohr tallied the sixth Blues goal. Two Grove United defenders attempted to clear the ball when it was in the box, but it ultimately bounced off of them and landed at Bernlohr’s feet. Bernlohr made no errors when shooting from six yards out, slipping the ball between the keeper’s legs and into the goal.
The next Blues game, on the road versus Northern Virginia United, will take place Wednesday, June 21 at 7:00 pm. That game is a makeup of the game that was regularly scheduled for June 7, but was postponed due to poor air quality from the wildfires in Canada. The following weekend will see the Blues travel to face Virginia Dream FC, on Saturday, June 24 at 7:00 pm.
Photo Credit: Pamela Cowart-Rickman