Following their stunning Friday night, rain soaked success, Seacoast Mariners looked to continue their winning ways Sunday against the Brooklyn Italians in the second game of their New York trip.
While still chilly, conditions were at least mostly dry throughout a fast paced and generally well-played contest. The game was open from kick off with decent opportunities for both sides. However, in the 28-minute, the Mariners were very disappointed to go behind.
A shot from 6 yards was initially saved by Mariners keeper Will Pike, but the rebound fell to an Italians striker who calmly fired the ball home through a crowd of players. Despite the setback, Mariners head coach Jim Hopkins will have been delighted by the subsequent response from his players.
The Mariners would force an equalizer in the 40th minute following a handball by an Italians defender. Experienced center back Amo Houghton stepped up and smashed the spot kick high down the center past the diving Italians Goalkeeper.
Just minutes later, Mariners wide man Matio Dimov would score again to give his team the lead. The Bulgarian Bandit chested down a long throw before superbly half volleying into the top corner. This was his second goal in as many games and it put the Mariners firmly in control at the halftime whistle.
Inexplicably, Mariners came out of the locker room flat and just two minutes in, they conceded a controversial free kick deep in their own half. They failed to clear the service and after a scrum inside the six-yard box the ball ended in the Mariners net. Mariners coach Jim Hopkins was bitterly disappointed to have been pegged back so early in the second half, but the effects did not linger and his team quickly rallied to take back the momentum of the game. Both teams subsequently created decent opportunities to win it, but no breakthrough was forthcoming and the game ended even at 2-2.
The Mariners headed north from the Big Apple with a haul of four priceless points much to the delight of Mariners staff, players and supporters alike. Despite being relatively short handed over the weekend, the players performed admirably and the groundwork has clearly been laid for good things to happen moving forward.
While these first three games came very early on in the developmental process, the coaches now have two weeks to ready the team for what we all hope will be a very rewarding season. Next up, the Mariners will again take on the Italians in the home game of the series, May 30th (Memorial Day) at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham at 12:00 noon.