ESPL Week 1: Shocking and Solid

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There were some surprises in week 1, some clubs who fought hard but couldn’t reach their goals, and a minimal number of draws to open up Season 2 in a big way. Let’s get to the action!

Nate Havram opened the scoring up for Citrus LF in the 10′, showing that Citrus LF was not going to just roll over as the new club in town. Allen FC fought back with an equalizer by Patrick Tarken at 31′ to leave the half at 1-1. November Nstinga opened up the scoring for Allen FC with a goal at 55′, giving the home side an advantage. Kovali Anand equalized for Citrus at 83′, only to have the final goal of the match be put through at 87′ by Max Vice, securing the first win of the season for Allen FC.

“We wanted a bigger goal difference,” said Charles Alexander, Allen FC team captain. “We really wanted to make our mark in the first week, a statement, that would resonate throughout the league. We got the win but things were a lot closer than we’d hoped against a brand new club.”

“With a good showing from Citrus LF,” said David Archer, ESPL Commentator, “I think we can expect great things from all the new clubs in the league. This showed everyone that just because they’re new, it doesn’t mean they’ll be rolled over.”

The match of the week, by most people’s standards, was the first clash between Emerald United and Gothica in what would be a draw. Trent Areonak scored an early 7′ goal for the home side to give them an early advantage. When, at 40′, Bill Lubiel put through Emerald United’s second goal, some were quick to worry that Gothica would take a loss in their first game of the new season but Simon Tarken put through the response at 41′ to show the champions weren’t out of the game yet. In the second half, Simon Tarken scored again at 59′ to even the score and keep it even until the final whistle, giving us the first draw of the new ESPL season.

“That was a hum-dinger,” said Simon Tarken, Gothica team captain and only goal scorer of the day. The media laughed. “I can’t say that I’m disappointed, the referees let us really hammer each other. There were a couple of times both sides should have gotten cards but they just let us play on. If this is how strong we both are, I can’t wait to see the end of the season. I would have liked a hat trick to open up the season, too, but I’ll take what I can get.”

Halo FC hosted Knightsquare, opening up the scoring at 25′ with a goal from team captain Scott Stennon. They would add a second one to their list at 42′ when his brother, Derric Stennon, put one through the the defense for a solid goal. In the second half after Ghudra Nmamba scored the third one for Halo at 71′, energizing the away side to mount a comeback. Zane Faulken scored at 76′ and Pedro Cruz scored at 85′, bringing the total to 3-2. Their last goal was denied as Zane Faulken was called offsides at 90′, leaving the away club with a loss in the first week of the season.

“The amount of effort that Knightsquare pulled out at the end of the match was epic,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL Commentator. “We were used to seeing Knightsquare just sort of peter out at the end of a match but they actually poured on the effort at the end. It’s sad they have to start the season with a loss but I think they’ll do better than we’ve given them credit for if they can keep this up.”

When Naval Armada hosted Octagon, the home club wanted to make the statement that no other club could: and they proved they’re going to be a major player this year in the title race. Khan Galaxy scored the first goal for Naval at 12′, and Patrick Barnes (their new acquisition) scored the second goal at 24′ to give the home side a 2-0 lead. That lasted until Piotr Khrush scored at 34′ to give the new club one goal before the half ended. The second half scoring opened up with Naval’s Kenton Key at 55′ and Yuri Petrikoff at 56′ to give Naval an even wider lead. Patrick Barnes scored again at 74′, putting the game out of reach in most eyes but Octagon would not go quietly into the night. Boris Putin scored at 81′, Piotr Khrush scored again at 84′, and at 90′ Pierre Benoit scored the final goal of the game, leaving Octagon a goal short against a club that decidedly “gave up” towards the end but still pulled out the win.

“We could publish what Khan Galaxy or Patrick Barnes said,” said David Archer, ESPL Commentator. “They took a strong lead and could have held on to that for the full time but seemed to roll over in the second half, cruising instead of pushing. Octagon is a new club, Naval is one of the top four clubs in the league, if they can’t bury a new club then can we really believe they’ll be chasing the title this year?”

“Their second half was embarrassing,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL Commentator. “Khan Galaxy is considered the best player in the league, but he only got one goal. Patrick Barnes, the golden child, is only credited with two goals in this one. The pair of them on separate teams could mount unbelievable numbers but together I am underwhelmed by their performance today. There is so much they should be doing and scraping by with a single goal difference is embarrassing.”

Real Olympia visited Queensdaisy and wanted to make a statement of their own, that the logo controversy is nothing to pay attention to because the “original” is better. Tim Bailey scored in the 2′, quieting the home crowd immediately. Sam Wells scored again for Real at 9′, making the opportunity for Queensdaisy to rise up look bleak. The home club didn’t roll over, in the tradition of all new comers this first week, they fought back. Tom Johnson scored the last goal of the first half for Queensdaisy at 12′. The second half saw only a single goal from Shawn Alexander at 82′, to leave the score in a 2-2 draw.

“I’m not going to come to a new team and just let them fall over in the first week,” said Shawn Alexander, Queensdaisy team captain. “They punched first, hard, and we punched back. In the end, they held us to just two goals, meaning they’re good defensively. I think the idea that all the new clubs aren’t going to make a mark this season just because they’re all new is being dispelled real quick.”

Shamrock Celtic hosted Shazam CM and the visitors struck first by Carlos Marcos scoring a goal at 36′. Hadji Khan equalized at 41′ for Celtic, but Shazam had an answer for that as Linke Rousseau scored at 45′ to close out the first half. Linke Rousseau scored his second of the day at 78′ to open the second half, then scored the hat trick at 82′ just two minutes before Hadji Khan got his second of the day at 84′. The game ended at 4-2, giving Shazam CM their first win and a big statement that the away clubs won’t be rolled over, either.

“I’m happy to say we went on the road and pulled out a solid victory,” said Taoufik Belbani, Shazam CM team captain. “Linke got a hat trick and we’re pleased to be the league leaders right now. It’s early but there is no reason to lie down.”

Sporting Black Cats hosted Tardis in the second to last match of the week. Tardis opened up the scoring at 24′ by David Lopez, causing the home crowd to go nearly silent. At 27′, Wade Wonder scored an equalizer, giving the Sporting crowd some hope. That hope started to fade in the second half as at 49′ Juan Avilaperez put one into the net, followed by Jorge Jimenez at 72′, and Jorge Jimenez again at 89′ to give Tardis the 4-1 win.

“Everyone see the exclamation at the end of this sentence?” asked Juan Avilaperez, Tardis team captain. “Tardis is here. Top of the table.”

The final match of the week was between Vulcan FC and the visiting Wordsmiths, newly rebranded. Hector Rodriguez scored the first goal of the night, for Vulcan, at 35′, answered by Wordsmiths at 44′ by Calvin Casey. The second half saw two goals, both from Wordsmiths, at 55′ by Russell Mantrell and 87′ by Jack Doyle.

“We have a shiny new look,” said Jason White, Wordsmiths team captain. “Sometimes a shiny new look gives everyone a little energy to go out and win some games. We got three, they got one, and we believe that we should have gotten more but we’ll have plenty of time for that.”

There was plenty of action in this week and we’re looking forward to seeing more from the league as time moves forward. Looking forward to next week!