Ballers FC: 0 BCS XI: 2 [6 Oct. 2012]

Third match day in eight for the XI, on the road to Ballers in Southboro. The weather started off warm and bright. Ballers had taken the June match at Dilboy 3-2, and the XI looked for redemption as well as a crucial late-season three points.

Play started off cleanly, with both sides stringing touches together but no chances for some time.  The XI conceded a couple of early corners, and on the narrow pitch the Ballers midfielders were able to whip throw-ins for similar effect and threat. Dave Doucette was on his game, and snared several dangerous balls in heavy traffic.

Around the thirtieth minute, Marco was able to work a ball from the left side to Paul, who reached the endline and threaded a cross to find Josh at the top of the six-yard box. Josh put a nifty one-time-outside-of-the-right-foot shot on net, and found the right side netting to put the XI up 1-0.

Play opened up a bit following the goal, and several counters put the XI on the back foot. Our calmness on the ball seemed to leave us, and the halftime whistle was a welcome sound while dark clouds began to fill the sky.

The respite was brief, and shortly into the second half a chilly rain began to fall. We seemed to be playing a great deal of defense.  Our clearances out of the back became conservative as the ball started to skip around, and never allowed our midfielders to establish solid possession and flow.  We gave up a couple of fouls near the box and had to defend against set pieces.  

And all the while, Ballers were establishing more and more possession. We avoided equalizers in two terribly close shaves. On the first, a nice sequence of one-touch passes around our defense resulted in Brad running down a through-ball and making contact with the onrushing striker, who hit the turf and appealed for a penalty. On the second, Dave got the ball stuck under his feet and ended up dribbling a couple of attackers before getting stripped thirty yards out. The Ballers midfielder immediately fired a left-footed shot on frame, only to be denied by the head of a calm and collected Brian Doucette, covering the goal line for his brother.

Fortunately energy and anticipation had not completely failed the XI.  Josh, Pete and Joe made a number of gutty, gritty tackles in the center of the park to snuff chances before they materialized. Against the run of play in the eightieth minute, Adam Palencia challenged a 50/50 ball in the center circle that was really a 70/30 ball in favor of Ballers. He broke through with all the momentum, the defender in his wake, and the ball skipping toward the onrushing keeper. Adam continued his run, closed the keeper down, and blocked the clearance, resulting in the ball bouncing into the home team’s net under Adam’s watchful eye.

We nursed the 2-0 advantage to the final whistle, and gave props to Ballers, who had certainly outplayed us in the second forty-five. This victory finds the XI eight points clear in Division 3 North with sixteen fixtures played and two to go, assuring a first-place finish and the right to a home-and-home playoff with the second-place finisher in Division 3 South. The XI now turn full attention to the long-anticipated Mackenzie Cup semi-final, away to Division 1 side Kendall Wanderers A for a midweek match under the lights. Wanderers have been on form lately, beating top Division 1 rivals including MPS in the McKenzie quarterfinal and Battery Park Gunners in league play in September. Kickoff at 8:00 pm, Wednesday October 11th, at Pine Banks Park, Melrose.  


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