WILMINGTON, NC (HAMMERHEADS) — Three wins, six days, and six points later, the Hammerheads have had a record week.
Legion Stadium became a sea of white on Friday, June 3rd when the Hammerheads took on Harrisburg City Islanders at 7pm. The White Out match pulled in 3,744 ILM fans to watch the team earn three points, winning 3-2.
Within the first two minutes the Hammerheads #47 Ashani Fairclough snuck the ball past Harrisburg’s Goalie, Keasel Broome, scoring the first goal of the game. The Hammerheads came out of the gate fueling the fire with the momentum of winning in Toronto and Miami this week.
#22 Kyle Parker was second to score in the 14th minute of the game from an assist by #7 Austin Martz. Parker placed the ball in the bottom left corner of the net, bringing the Hammerheads up 2-0.
Despite the Hammerheads strong start, Harrisburg ‘s defense held strong stopping the Hammerheads from finding any more opportunities in the first half. Harrisburg’s #6 Bobby Warshaw scored off of a stunning high shot to the upper left corner, grazing Hammerheads goalie John Smits’ fingertips.
Hammerheads defender, #4 Michael Mecham, received a yellow card deep in the defensive end within the 22nd minute. Shortly after, in the 26th minute, a free kick given to Harrisburg, taken by #8 Jose Barril, opened the net for Warshaw to score his second goal of the game off of a header.
During the 36th minute, Harrisburg’s #10 Paul Wilson had a one-v-one breakaway, where Smits slid in to make an impressive save at the top of the 18-yard box. Counter challenging the close one-v-one, #11 Qudus Lawal had an opportunity to score, but just barely missed the top of the net.
For the remaining 9 minutes, Harrisburg continued to press Wilmington’s defense, as the Hammerheads continued to push forward. Both teams were performing neck-to-neck, entering half time with an intense 2-2 tie.
With both teams one point from one another in the 2016 USL regular season standings, a win could propel Harrisburg even further ahead, or give the Hammerheads a comfortable seat in the middle of the pack.
Back to the field, the Hammerheads came out of the gate strong quickly advancing down the field. Having struggled to be a second half team, tonight’s game proved to be different for the team. Lead scorer, Warshaw, received a yellow card for Harrisburg in the 52nd minute, quickly followed by fellow teammate, goalie Nick Noble in the 58th minute from the bench.
As the game intensified, Smits made two incredible diving saves in the 69th and 70th minute, denying Harrisburg a chance to score. A final yellow card was received by Harrisburg’s #11 Matthew Bolduc in the 83rd minute.
Nearing the end of the game, the Hammerheads dominated the ball, seeking offensive push, after offensive push. Finally resulting in a game changer. Parker scored in the last minute of the game, with an assist from Fairclough, sending the crowd into a roar of cheers. Although each team fought hard throughout the 90 minutes, it was the Hammerheads that continued their winning streak, sending Harrisburg home with a 3-2 loss.
Head coach Mark Briggs stated, “We’ve got confidence at the moment from the results on the road over the past week. We spoke at halftime about keeping that winning mentality. When you’re in a run like we are at the moment, things seem to bounce for you. We changed the formation the last 10 or 15 minutes and put two up top and it just gave us an extra body, a little more pressure, and we got the ball we were looking for.” He continued, “We’ve turned a corner and the players have turned a corner themselves. This is all them. This is all their hard work, their determination, and their desire to win a game of football. Credit to them.”
The Hammerheads prepare to take on Louisville City FC next Saturday. Watch the game live at the Fox & Hound in Wilmington at 7pm. Can’t make the watch party? How about the next home game? Join the Hammerheads as they take on Bethlehem Steel FC on Friday, June 17th at 7pm in the beautiful Port City. Tickets are available online at wilmingtonhammerheads.com or by calling 910.777.2111.