Seacoast United Mariners extended their unbeaten run to three games when a last-minute winner sealed all three points against the Brooklyn Italians on a warm Memorial Day afternoon.
Yusef Yama found himself in a 1v1 close to the halfway line following a long defensive clearance from Shaun Shand. Yama outmuscled his defender sending him to the ground, and sped off to round the keeper before calmly slotting the ball into an empty net with only seconds remaining in regulation.
The Italians were left to rue a number of squandered chances earlier in the match.
The game started brightly for the New Yorkers and only two very smart saves in the opening seven minutes from Mariners keeper Will Pike prevented an early deficit.
Gradually, the Mariners began to get into the game as holding midfielders Marc Goulet and Jamie Reid saw more of the ball, bringing their strikers and wide men into the game, however, no breakthrough was forthcoming.
The second half was pretty even in terms of possession, but it was the Italians who created the better chances. On three more occasions, Pike made outstanding saves to deny the breakthrough.
The Italians had set off for the weekend doubleheader hoping to cement second place behind New York Cosmos B. However, they lost 1-0 to bottom team Seacoast United Phantoms on Sunday, giving Monday’s holiday game even more meaning.
Despite holding a 9-3 shot advantage, there was no way past their nemesis Will Pike and for the third time he earned Man of the Match honors.
The Mariners used all 17 squad members to pace themselves over the 90 minutes, leaving head coach Jim Hopkins thrilled to pick up all three points.
“I had the feeling Yama’s pace would cause them problems in the final quarter of the game, but when I saw him 1v1 on the halfway line with just seconds remaining, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Once he beat his man, it was all over and he took his chance beautifully.”
Hopkins is excited about his squad’s potential moving forward and for good reason.
“We are still learning to play together and we need to trust each other more, but we are a new group of players and we are just four games into the season so things are only likely to get better. Seven points out of nine against the Cosmos and the Italians is certainly an achievement and we are excited to build from here.”
Saturday, the Mariners again face New York City opposition when they host New York Athletic Club at 8:00 pm at Fitzpatrick Stadium before they face a daunting rematch with the New York Cosmos B team on whom they inflicted a first-ever NPSL defeat on a soaking wet Friday the 13th last month. The Cosmos will be anxious for revenge so it should be quite the occasion at the University of Southern Maine at noon on Sunday, June 5th.