Saturday night’s game between the Seacoast United Mariners and The Rhode Island Reds FC ended in a 2-2 draw, a game that featured numerous swings of possession, torrential rain showers, four yellow cards, and quite possibly one of the most astounding goals you would see at any level.
Seacoast dominated the early possession. With constant pressure on the Red’s defense, a shot on goal in the 11th minute by the Mariner’s Tyler Welch was saved by Reds goalkeeper Tony Billeri, and finally woke the Reds from their slumber.
Ensuing efforts by Rhode Island’s Stavros Zarakostas on the left flank paid-off as he worked the ball to the middle and, after a few rain-assisted miscues by Seacoast, Maxwell Kalombo was able to collect a loose ball and put it away, giving the Reds a 1-0 lead at the 13th minute. With a restored sense of confidence, the Reds maintained pressure on the Mariner’s defense. Zarakostas continued to direct the Reds attack from the left side, setting up a Joao “Nanni” Cardoso shot in the 15th minute that went just wide. A 19th minute Andrew Columbo header off a corner kick went just over the crossbar.
Possession swayed back to the Mariners. A free kick from 25-yards by the Mariners required a big-time save by Billeri, and a subsequent shot in the 29th minute by Seacoast’s Carlos Lopez went just over the bar. The unyielding rain would work in the Mariner’s favor this time. In the 36th minute, similar to the Reds first goal, several rain-aided defensive miscues led to a loose ball in front of the Red’s goal, which was ultimately collected by Seacoast’s Noah Elmore, who slipped it by Billeri to tie the game, 1-1. That’s where the score remained to close out the first half.
The second half started, mercifully, without rain. A slick and unpredictable turf, however, required vigilance by both teams. Seacoast got things going early, working some beautiful touches into a one-on-one opportunity between Welch and the Reds keeper. Welch slipped one past Balleri’s left to the far post, and into the onion bag. Seacoast had taken a 2-1 lead at the 51st minute, and seemingly sucked the energy from the Reds. But a hard tackle on Andrew Columbo, a Red’s defensive stalwart, resulted with the Mariner’s Lopez receiving a yellow card, and served as a turning point for home team. Columbo being aided off the field was the apparent stimulus that Rhode Island needed. They controlled possession for nearly the remainder of the game.
Some planned trickery on a 75th minute free kick from 20 yards out resulted in obvious confusion of Seacoast’s defense, and required a tremendous save by Seacoast keeper Roberto Montanaro to preserve the lead. Relentless, but unsuccessful pressure frustrated the Reds, which only intensified the subsequent events.
In the 81st minute, a hard Rhody shot and resulting Seacoast deflection dropped the ball just in front of Reds defender Camnagha Namusse at 40 yards out, who successively pounded a half-volley into the top right corner of Seacoast’s goal. From forty yards out, it was too hard and too precise to handle. And there was nothing more Montanaro could do. That was the equalizer, and fittingly, how the game ended – tied 2-2.
At any level of soccer, that was a magnificent goal. As such, Namusse was named the Man of the Match. It was a proper climax to an even match, and the fans who braved the weather were aptly rewarded for their patronage.
“Seacoast was better than us the first 20 minutes then we pick it up and dominated 80 minutes of the game, despite the conditions,” Reds Chairman Kabba D. Joof added. “I give a lot of credit to Seacoast. They kept fighting for 90 minutes.”
Rhode Island Reds FC
Photo Credit: Hayden James Photography