Saturday: Elm City holds on versus rival Hartford City FC
The Elm City Express took home a 2-1 victory in a tightly contested rivalry match on the road versus Hartford City FC Saturday evening, with 1,310 fans in attendance. Before the game, a moment of silence was held in memorial of former US Women’s National Team head coach Tony DiCicco, the winningest coach is US Soccer history, who was known for his warm smile and motivating personality.
Things got heated early on; it would set the tone for a physical and hard-fought battle between the two Connecticut rivals. With high, bouncing balls booming across the field all night, this was a quality game with a fun fan atmosphere on a beautiful evening at Central Connecticut State University’s soccer stadium.
After threatening on offense in the beginning stages, Elm City’s Daniel Oliveira finally opened up the scoring in the 26th minute. He pounced on a rebound from a low shot by Lucas Gabriel Sousa and tucked the ball into the bottom left corner past the dive of the Hartford keeper. With the score at 1-0, Elm City would dominate the game with quality long balls and frequent possession. Cristhian Hernández controlled the middle with punishing tackles and excellent ball control. The Express seemed poised to command the game from midfield.
Oliveira would strike again in the 33rd minute, this time lining up a rolling ball at the top of the box and smashing a rocket into the top right corner.
“As soon as I shot it, I knew it was going in,” said Oliveira after the game.
Elm City fans roared in excitement, drowning out the dismay of the home crowd. These were Oliveira’s first and second goals on the season; he was named Man of the Match for his critical scoring and leadership on the field.
Hartford would not go down quietly, however; the Colts struck back in the 58th minute when Tyler Carlos unlocked the Elm City defense with a beautiful cross to the boot of Sebastian Stewzewski, who volleyed it home to chip away at the deficit. With the score at 2-1, the Colts threw the kitchen sink at the Express backline, with numerous dangerous runs and crosses. In the 84th minute, Hartford defender Jhaime Hyde used his hand to score what would have been the tying goal, but the referees waved the goal off and instead handed Hyde his second yellow card of the game, resulting in a red card.
Despite the physical play and dangerous Hartford chances in the final stretch of the match, Elm City would hold on for the key rivalry win on the road.
“We felt like we deserved more in the first game [a 1-1 tie in New Haven], so we knew we wanted to come here and get all three points,” said Express Head Coach Teddy Haley.
Hartford will remain in third in the Atlantic White Conference, while Elm City will stay on top of the Atlantic Blue Conference table with a record of 7-1-1.
Sunday: Elm City Dispatches Seacoast United Phantoms
The Elm City Express continued their fine form with a dominant 5-0 victory versus visiting Seacoast United Phantoms at Reese Field on Sunday. Despite heavy rain during warm-ups, the weather cleared up and fans enjoyed a beautiful summer afternoon at Elm City’s home field.
Regardless of the fact that the Elm City players were feeling the effects of fatigue after a 2-1 victory versus Hartford City FC the previous evening, the Express came out firing on all cylinders and dominated the early stages of the game.
“A lot of fatigue is mental; you can trick yourself into high effort even if you have tired legs. I liked the effort overall,” said head coach Teddy Haley on playing two games in two days.
Seacoast United struggled to find offense and Elm City dominated play from midfield, with Christhian Hernández and Daniel Oliveira testing the Phantoms keeper early on. However, Elm City struggled to translate their offensive link-up play and possessions into goal-scoring opportunities.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 38th minute by Tavoy “The Bull” Morgan, who added to his team-leading tally of six goals. Morgan showcased his aerial strength by rising to meet Hernández’s free kick from the right side of the box and heading it into the back of the net. Seacoast United threatened the express with a series of set-pieces just before halftime, but at the break Elm City held onto a 1-0 lead.
Soon after halftime, the game began to open up for the Express. In the 47th minute, Hernández met a pass from Shaquille Saunchez on the edge of the box and volleyed a beautifully placed shot into the bottom right corner of the goal. In the 60th minute, it was again Saunchez who played a ball across the box to meet Quenton Swift’s outstretched leg at the back post. The goal for Swift came soon after he was substituted in for Daniel Oliveira, Man of the Match in the previous night’s 2-1 victory versus Hartford City FC.
The Express refused to let up with the score at 3-0 and kept applying pressure on the Phantoms’ backline. In the 74th minute, Saunchez turned from creator to finisher as he added a goal to his tally of two assists. Saunchez coolly slotted the ball underneath the keeper at the far post after a ball into space by Miguel Carneiro. Saunchez received a standing ovation from the fans when he was substituted soon afterwards for Rob Poirier. Poirier continued right where Saunchez left off, crossing a ball that Miguel Carneiro volleyed home from close range.
Throughout the game, Elm City’s high press and tough-tackling midfield play created plenty of chances in the offensive third. The backline was rarely tested in the team’s victory. The win makes the Express’s combined score line in their past four home games 14-0.
Head Coach Ted Haley said that Reese Stadium “is a great venue; we feel comfortable out here. Our fan base is really good, and it’s a great place to play.”
Seacoast United Phantoms will drop to 1-7-1, good for fifth place in the Atlantic Blue Conference, while Elm City remains at the top of the table with a dominating record of 8-1-1. Elm City will next play at home vs. New York Cosmos B on July 1st.