Sunday, May 20, 2007

Rays blank Volts, 4-0

The Rhode Island Stingrays exploded for four goals during their victory versus divisional rival Vermont Voltage on Saturday night, in a PDL match up that pitted two teams each searching for their first win of the 2007 season.

Early on, the Stingrays set the tempo by stringing precise passing sequences that thoroughly frustrated the Volts for much of the match.

Just how frustrated the Volts became with the passing clinic exhibited by the Rays was exemplified in the 27th minute, when James McCarron hard tackled Jonathan Pereira from behind, earning the Volt midfielder a red card and subsequent ejection.

Forced to play a man down, the Volts had their hands full with a Stingray attack that took advantage and dominated with several scoring opportunities soon after.

However, it wasn’t until the 44th minute that the Rays were able to put a point on the board. On a sudden break toward goal, Pereira sent a quick feed to Lukasz Tumicz, who streaked down the right flank before unleashing a scorching shot past Volt goalkeeper Steve Hennessey that gave the Rays the 1-0 advantage before the end of the half.

It was an uphill battle for the Volts to keep the Rays at bay in the second half. Volt manager Bo Vuckovic tried his best to hedge the potent Rays attack with fresh-legged substitutes.

Nonetheless, the Volts only had their backs pressed further to the wall in the 50th minute, when Marlon Giraldo aimed and fired shot from 25 yards out that ricocheted off the crossbar, momentarily depriving the home side of goal number two.

Another opportunity materialized in the 55th minute, when Jeffrey Gonsalves crashed through an exasperated Volt defense and flicked a quick shot into the back of the net, giving the home side their second goal of the game.

Minutes later, in the 58th minute, Jimmy Hernandez raced down the right flank before sending in a looping cross to a wide open Giraldo, who sat comfortably at the top of the box completely unmarked. After clinking the crossbar minutes earlier, Giraldo did not miss this time around, as he took a touch and fired the shot into the Voltage goal for the 3-0 lead.

The Rays continued their relentless siege of the Voltage end of the field, and continually poked and prodded through a back line that had been dismantled by an aggressive attack.

During the 72nd minute, Rays manager Mario Pereira made an unorthodox goalkeeper substitution when he replaced Joshua Ford with Peter Wise. Yet, the unconventional swap would pay dividends later on in the closing minutes.

As if to reward the home crowd for braving through the damp and cold conditions, the Rays capped off their goal scoring exhibition in the 76th minute, when Tumicz planted himself in the box and spun two defenders before cracking shot into the upper reaches of the Voltage goal for his second goal of the game, and the 4-0 lead for the Rays.

With the Rays clutching to the shutout during the waning minutes of the match, the Volts were awarded a penalty kick in the 83rd minute after some aggressive tackling on the part of the Rays defenders.

After electing to take the kick, Volt forward Matt Stedman launched the dead ball to the left of Wise, who soared to make an incredible two-handed stop on the point-blank missile, thus preserving the 4-0 shutout win for the home team.

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