Tuesday night, with storms circling DePaul Catholic High School before the game, saw TSF FC come away with a vital 1-0 victory over the Brooklyn Italians. Both teams continue their push for the playoff places in the Atlantic Conference Blue, and played their part in entertaining a crowd of over 200 supporters with end-to-end action. It was a true passionate soccer affair between rivals two teams with a strong desire to clinch the three points.
Brooklyn began the game the stronger side, earning a free kick within the first several minutes. The ensuing cross was lifted over everyone in the box and went out safely for a TSF goal kick. Minutes later as Brooklyn rushed down the field, Jerel Blades went down inside the TSF penalty box and a penalty kick was awarded. TSF’s Mateo Zabala, a TSF Academy graduate, was up to the task and made a fine save on the penalty kick, with the rebound being put over the bar by the Italians.
After easing into the game, TSF managed some attacking momentum as Andrew Nino and Ritchie Barry attempted shots, neither with a result. Following a Brooklyn free kick, TSF earned one on the other end of the field, from about 30 yards out. Luis Mendoza stepped up and struck the ball but it was handled easily by the Brooklyn’s Mike Bernardi. TSF found another attacking opportunity in the 17th minute as Ritchie Barry controlled a Tyler Pinho cross and struck a left-footed shot that was saved by Brooklyn.
Following TSF’s attacking flurry, it was Brooklyn’s turn to go back on the offensive. A Brooklyn attacker went down in the box after some contact with a TSF defender, but no whistle was blown. A few minutes later Jerel Blades curled a shot just wide right of goal. TSF brought the back down the field immediately after but a Pinho cross was intercepted by the keeper.
In the 34th minute, TSF earned a free kick from 28 yards out. Mendoza again struck the shot, but it was saved by Bernardi. The last bit of excitement of the first half came in the 37th minute after some sloppy play from TSF led to a shot, a save, and a corner kick. The corner was eventually cleared away by TSF’s Chris Bazzini.
Although Brooklyn began the second half quickly, as Adrien Huss smashed a shot over the crossbar from distance, TSF established control in the first few minutes of the half. A TSF free kick saw two headers on target, with both being stopped by Brooklyn’s Bernardi. Minutes later in the 58th minute, Pinho was brought down inside the box, but a penalty kick was not awarded. TSF maintained control though, as they earned a free kick shortly after. The ball was passed off to Pinho, whose shot was deflected out for a corner kick. Shortly following this Steve Zamudio attempted a chip over Bernardi from close range but the ball did not drop in time and landed on the top netting.
Brooklyn almost opened the scoring in the 62nd minute, but TSF’s Mike Czyrnek managed to cleared the ball off the line. A few minutes later, a challenge by Luis Mendoza on Falanga ignited the fair but fiery nature of the game. Mendoza received a yellow card with Falanaga remaining down for several minutes. A few minutes later, Simen Olafsen had the wind knocked out of him by a shot from Mendoza. The 74th minute saw Falanaga sent off after committing a foul on Mendoza.
TSF capitalized shortly after with Brooklyn Italians seeming to lose the levels of concentration and organization which had frustrated TSF FC for the game up to that point. A miscommunication between Brooklyn’s keeper and defenders saw Almir Batista Jr. pounce on the lose ball, twist and put the ball into an empty net to the rapturous applause to the onlooking fans.
Even down to ten men, Brooklyn continued to push for the equalizer in the final minutes and almost equalized off of a headed corner, but the ball was again cleared off the line by TSF, this time by Franky Martinez. Brooklyn had another chance to equalize in the 82nd, but a header was nodded just right of goal.
As the final whistle loomed, the fourth official announced seven minutes of added time and this seemed to re-invigorate Brooklyn as they continued attacking to push forward. A deflected shot rang a post and crossbar, ultimately bouncing away from goal. Shortly after, it appeared Brooklyn had equalized as the ball somehow ended up in the net, but play was stopped with an official whistling for a TSF player being fouled.
This was one of the game’s final moments, as the final whistle was blown with TSF FC holding on for a 1-0 victory and an unbelievable display of passion and commitment from both sets of players.