Graham Guidry doesn’t score often, but when he does, it changes outcomes.
On a hot evening at CCBC-Essex where play got just as heated, Guidry’s 50th-minute strike lifted FC Frederick to a 2-1 victory over favored and top-seeded FC Baltimore in an all-Maryland clash for the NPSL Mid-Atlantic Conference championship.
The win sends FC Frederick into the NPSL Northeast Region semifinals against New York Cosmos B on Wednesday at Hofstra University.
After finishing in third place during the regular season, FC Frederick defeated the second and first seeds within 48 hours for the team’s first title. Last year, FC Frederick lost in overtime in the title match.
“Ever since my knee injury, coming back has been a little tough so it feels really good personally and collectively,” Guidry said of his second goal of the season. “Losing in the final last year, it meant a lot to get back [to the final] and to win it feels amazing.”
Three of Guidry’s last four goals have been game-winners — one with FC Frederick and two at William & Mary last fall.
“I’m very proud of these players,” said FC Frederick head coach Chris Spinks. “We had a four-year plan. The first two years we got our feet wet. Last year, we got a good experience making the playoffs and reaching the final. I reminded them how it felt after that loss in the final last year — and I pushed that night — and it’s great to go that step further. It really means a lot of FC Frederick as a club. To have the top team in our developmental pyramid get a championship it shows we have the resources to make this happen.”
FC Baltimore scored first when in the 18th minute Josh Fawole, one of the leading scorers in the NPSL, slipped a shot past Phil Breno for a 1-0 lead on a play set up by Lucas Mendes. It was Fawole’s 13th goal of the season. Only eight minutes later, FC Frederick drew even when Justin Lee hit a 30-year blast that curled into the corner of the goal over the outstretched arms of the keeper.
The match stayed 1-1 until FC Frederick pulled off a perfect counter attack with Brian Flatter playing a long ball to John Eskay, who outran his defender down the left wing. Eskay crossed the ball into the penalty area where Guidry, making a back-post run, took a touch to settle the ball before scoring in the lower left corner for the 2-1 lead.
“I saw John working on the wing and I knew he was gone, so I starting making a hard run to the back post and kept yelling as loud as I could and when (the ball) came to me it was a great opportunity and I had to make it.”
“All year I’ve been talking about our depth,” Spinks said. “Forty-eight hours ago we played 120 minutes and then had to play the regular season champs, so we needed to make some changes and I had Graham (Guidry) start. Even he would say this hasn’t been a great season for him, but this was the best game he’s had this year. We trust everyone on the roster can come in and do their job.”
After FC Frederick took the lead, the team’s defense with Breno (six saves) in goal, Tommy Spear, Kevin Morris, Bilal Hassane, and Jake Wilkinson was able to minimize FC Baltimore attacks. FC Frederick played without regular starter Nate Lee, who was injured in the conference semifinal.
“We put Kevin (Morris) back there and those four guys were amazing,” Spinks said.
The game got chippy late as FC Frederick was issued two yellow cards and a red within three minutes late in the match. FC Frederick played the last four minutes of regulation plus five minutes of stoppage time with 10 players on the field, and weathered FC Baltimore’s late attack.
Contributor: FC Frederick
Photo Credit: FC Frederick