2009:Washington Premier League Regular Season Hawks Edge Into Pole Position for Fall 2009 WPL League Title Defeat Reds United FC 1-0; Assume First Place in WPL Table with 2 Games Remaining (Fairfax, VA- Fairfax High School, 6:30 PM)
The Hawks looked to rebound from a disappointing performance in the DC Copa IX indoor tournament a week earlier with a return to heated WPL action against league rivals Reds United FC. The match between the only two remaining unbeaten WPL sides with identical 5-0-1 records would provide the winner a distinct edge towards the WPL title. Unfortunately many Hawks regulars could not attend the match, setting the stage for an intense game that would surely test the character of the team. In a physical and somewhat sloppy game that saw three second half ejections and missed opportunities for both sides, the Hawks were able to come out on top off the heels of a 76th minute strike by forward Ricky Schramm.
The Hawks started the match well and had Reds on their heels for the first 10 minutes. Anders Kelto looked to be putting the Hawks up just 3 minutes into the match, but his crisp header off a Corey Curnutte cross clanked off the post and the Reds were able to clear the rebound to safety. Reds gained momentum as the half wore on and had a golden opportunity to take the lead in 12' when striker Tommy Park wriggled free of the Hawks defense but sent his shot past the far post. Just before the halftime whistle, the Hawks looked certain to notch the opening goal when outside midfielder Alex Nydal's penetration and cross from the right side slid menacingly behind the Reds defense and into the path of Hawks' all-time cap leader Jon Knight, but his attempt at the emphatic finish sailed wide from only 8 yards out.
The second half saw on the field action heat up as the Hawks regrouped in search of the opening goal. In the 47' minute, Erwin Diaz was sent in on goal off a nice through ball by Michael Goldman, but his attempted chip was illegally blocked by the Reds keeper outside the box, and the Hawks could not take advantage on the resulting free kick. The Hawks odds took a turn for a better in the 53' when a United player was issued a straight red card for a tackle from behind on Hawks midfielder Erwin Diaz, who was streaking towards goal. Down a man, Reds bunkered in and played the counter, while the Hawks looked to take advantage of the extra man. Unable to capitalize on the man advantage, the playing field was equalized in the 70th minute when Hawks center back Nick McMorris was issues a red card of his own. The Hawks finally broke through in the 76' mark when Goldman was fed down the left side of the pitch and sent a perfectly weighted pass just beyond the Reds defense and onto the path of striker Ricky Schramm, who made no mistake on the finish for the game winner. Reds fought back hard and had two great chances to equalize, but the Hawks defense stood firm. A second yellow card was issued to Reds Tommy Park in the 88' and Hawks were able to close out the game to claim firm grasp over the WPL field.
The win puts the Hawks in great position to capture their 8th straight league title. Sitting in first place with two games remaining, the Hawks will be hungry to stay atop of the standings this coming Sunday against a hot Convergent Pandemonium team that has won four straight matches and will surely provide a stiff challenge to the high flying Hawks.
Alex Fatovic, Nick McMorris, John Stephens, Andrew Loia, Adam Gracia, Alex Herrera, Corey Curnutte, Erwin Diaz, Titou Fierro, Luis Martinez, Alex Nydal, Ricky Schramm, Anders Kelto, Jon Knight