Aegean Hawks FC - 1 vs. Crystal Palace USA (USL-2) - 3 (Falls Church, VA - George Mason High School, 8 PM) The Hawks pre-season opener saw the squad go down 1-3 to a hungry Crystal Palace side on a frigid and windy Saturday night. The match represented the side's first competitive match in over 3 months. The first half saw the veteran Hawks players attempt to brush off the rust against Palace's starting 11. In a match of two halves, the Hawks showed plenty of rust but also glimmers of form. The first team absorbed Palace's initial pressure - including a PK retake save by Palace's loaned keeper - and settled into the game.
The Hawks looked to be going up shortly after the PK when a dangerous run by left midfielder Ryan Rich resulted in a pretty combination between center midfielder and striker Geoff Thompson, whose sly one touch tap off the through ball bounced off the goal post and into the arms of the Palace keeper.
Both teams had opportunities in the remainder of the half, with Palace looking more dangerous with it's inside outside play. Halftime score 0-0. Shortly after the break, Palace's failed attempts to clear the ball out of their box found Mike Goldman pounce on a clearance attempt and send a cross to the Palace box. The resulting clearance met Ryan Rich's right foot at about 20 yards from goal for a laser to the Palace near side netting and a 1-0 Hawks lead. Palace responded in style minutes after off nice combination play on the right wing which culminated in a perfectly placed header into the near side upper netting off a driven cross to tie the scoreline.
The majority of the Hawks starting 11 were subsituted at the 55 minute mark, and the team lost it's shape to Palace's mounting pressure. Palace scored two goals and had several opportunities to increase the margin in a half much less competitive than the first. Hawks management was able get a glimpse of some of the trialists and several players showed potential for challenging the first team. All in all, a good first outing for the squad. Fitness was clearly an issue that will be addressed in the coming weeks as the Hawks preseason training rolls on.
The next official pre-season match is a month out in Harrisonburg, VA against James Madison University on Sunday April 6th.
Click here for link to Crystal Palace's game writeup complete with video highlights.