Like a pair of mixed martial arts fighters, the Rhode Island Stingrays and Ottawa Fury punched, kicked and grappled their way to a 1-1 draw Sunday afternoon at Pierce Memorial Field before an enthusiastic ringside crowd.
The Fury kicked off for the first half under cloudy skies and cool temperatures, as both teams attempted to find their pace in the opening minutes. Both teams struggled to muster any quality chances until the 8th minute, when Jeff Gonsalves crashed the box but narrowly missed net, hitting the side of the goal as the ball harmlessly bounced out of play.
As both clubs continued to scratch and claw at each other, it wasn’t until the 13th minute that Rays midfielder Lukasz Tumicz charged down the Fury end of the field before unleashing a speculative shot that went well over the Fury net.
Less than a minute later, Peter Wise effectively ended dangerous Fury sequence when he stopped a Phil Amahazion point blank shot in the box, keeping the score 0-0.
The Rays caught the Fury completely off guard in the 19th, when Gonsalves streaked down the left flank with nothing but wide open real estate ahead and sent the ball toward a hard charging Tumicz on the right, who took the pass and drew the lone Fury defender before he crossed it right back to his teammate for the easy goal. 1-0, and the Rays took control.
The goal sparked the Rays attack, and they dominated possession in the following minutes, while Ottawa defenders charged and chased the ball all in vain for a large chunk of the first half.
In the 32nd minute, Danleigh Borman crossed a beautiful ball from the left to a sliding Gonsalves, who narrowly missed the connection, as the ball sailed inches away from the threatening boot of the former Toronto FC prospect.
As the Rays kicked off for the second frame, Ottawa came out attacking like the proverbial bat out of hell before the patient Rays dense neutralized the rather sloppy attack in the opening minutes. The Rays proceeded to launch counterattacks almost at will, as the Fury attack often disintegrated before the ball even reached the box.
In the 50th minute, Borman flicked a well-placed pass to Jeff Cameron, who broke down the left flank toward the Fury goal and cracked a shot that clanked off the right post.
The Rays continued to stymie the Ottawa defense, and the only answer provided to the patient and methodical attack was undisciplined aggression that displayed Ottawa’s unorganized defending tactics, leading to numerous fouls and three yellow cards issued before the 60 minute mark.
Quality scoring bids for the Fury were kept to minimum for most of the match until
the 85th minute, when an Ottawa corner kick flew into the box, prompting Wise to make an attempt at the ball. However, he was caught out of position and fell to the ground, as three Fury attackers battled for the loose ball before Fury forward William Beauge easily tapped the equalizer into the net with less than ten minutes left to play.
Any hope for the Rays to attain the game-winner came a minute into extra time, when midfielder Alonso Villasenor sent an immaculate feed to a gate-crashing Gonsalves before the striker knocked home the apparent go-ahead goal. But soon after celebrations commenced, the referee’s assistant waved his flag offside, thus stifling the last true chance the blue and gold had at earning three points at home, as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.