Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gonsalves performs the hat trick in 4-2 demolition of Long Island

Despite the calendar indicating a twenty-four hour period of unluckiness, Friday the 13th proved to be a wildly lucky day for Stingray striker Jeff Gonsalves. The former URI Ram played without curse or hijinx, as he netted an astounding three goals for the Rays in a resounding 4-2 victory over Long Island last night.

Gonsalves first took residence in Long Island territory in the 7th minute, when he raced right into the heart of the Long Island back line and launched a rocket that deflected off a hapless Rider defender before the box. Despite the slight redirection, ball arched perfectly into the upper right shelf for the opening salvo, and gave the home side the early one-goal advantage.

Soon after, a scary scene occurred at the 8th minute mark, when Riders midfielder Paul Roderick galloped into goalkeeper Joshua Ford, which left the Stingray down for a few tense moments before he came back to his feet.

However, a few minutes later, Ford was immediately tested, and made beautiful stop on a Rider shot that left him vulnerable on the rebound. Said rebound found the foot of Roderick, who rifled the shot from the right flank for the equalizer in the 11th minute.

As the game drew toward the halfway point of the first half, tempers on both sides flared, as Rays midfielder Jonathan Pereira was awarded a yellow card by referee Guido Gonzalez for a questionable violation. Soon after, the Riders began to unleash a flurry of rather unsportsmanlike shots at various Stingray players, which drew the ire of a visibly upset Mario Pereira.

The school of hard knocks continued for the remainder of the frame, as both club’s players traded more late tackles and high elbows than offensive chances.

As the first frame neared conclusion, the Riders looked to be taking the offensive advantage, as the Rays began to find themselves in reverse more than drive .Then, in the 44th minute, the Stingrays quickly counterattacked, as Dawid Badecki fed a gluttonous Gonsalves, who beautifully samba’ed through the right flank, cut inside, and took an impossibly-angled shot on goal that magically found a home in the top left shelf of the net for the go-ahead goal minutes before the curtain fell on the first half.

When the second half kicked off, the Riders sought to locate the equalizer and wasted no time in doings so. Two minutes into Act Two Mike Grella took a fortuitous rebound off the far post and tapped in the easy goal at the edge of the goal mouth in the 47th minute.

Just after the hour mark, the Rays broke through the Rider back line when Badecki delivered a perfect ball on net that was batted away by Riders keeper Jason Landers, but the sequence turned out empty handed, as the both club battled at midfielder for most of the second half.
Tempers went wild again in the 72nd minute, when Gonzalez gave Rider coach Dave Fisher an untimely ejection, after the manager continued to hurl disparaging comments regarding the quality of the officiating.

With the score level, it was the Riders that found themselves in better position to attain the go-ahead score. However, a black cat must have been lurking near the Long Island bench when, in the 77th minute, Grella went one on one with Rays defender Darren Howerton deep into the Stingray box, before the shifty midfielder sidestepped Howerton, paused, and launched a clear shot on goal that flailed high over the crossbar. Less than a minute later, Grella, in a reprisal of his recent performance, once again crashed the box, and yet again faked out his defender, before firing a shot that unluckily went off the back heel of an oblivious John Nolan, who was simply marking his man before the goal mouth.

Then, with less than ten minutes remaining in regular time, Marlon Giraldo found Evan Unger in wide open pasture. Unger took two touches, and launched a hard shot on net deflected wide of the Rider net. On the ensuing corner kick, the ball was headed by Ryan McCormick tantalizingly close to the goal before Gonsalves followed up with another header and directed it past Landers for the go-ahead in the 83rdminute.

Uncontent with a one-goal advantage, an-all out Stingray assault culminated on a McCormick screamer from the right flank in the 86th minute, which gave the Rays the insurance goal with time quickly dwindling.

As the leaderless Riders struggled to re-assemble their attack in the slim hopes of closing the two-goal gap, the Rays stonewalled the flailing Long Island attack, and the home club preserved the much-needed 4-2 victory on home soil.

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