February 24 th,
Aegean Hawks FC - 2 vs. Real Maryland FC (USL-2) - 1
Hawks defeat Real Maryland (USL-2) Trialists 2-1
(Rockville, MD - 7:00 PM, Richard Montgomery High School)
The Hawks faced a pre-season Real Maryland FC (USL-2) side on a frigid Tuesday evening in the first of a series of friendlies geared towards preparing the squad for 2009 National Cup regionals. Both teams looked to benefit from the match, with the Hawks fielding a lineup that included only two starters from last years National Cups squad. Real Maryland used the match as an opportunity to assess the remaining players vying for a 2009 roster spot, including several USL-2 veterans and a mix of local college seniors and recent grads.
Considering the circumstances, the match was an entertaining affair with both teams enjoying several quality chances. In the opening 20 minutes, the pace of the game took some getting used to from the Hawks perspective as Real Maryland did what professional teams do by transitioning from defense to offense quickly and utlizing an omi-present counter attack to keep the Hawks defense honest. The Hawks defense withstood the opening challenge, bolstered by newcomer Derek Potteiger's cool presence at the center back position. Both teams had solid chances to open the scoring in the first half. Real Maryland struck first when a forward penetrated on the left side of the box and launched a shot which pinged off the far post and then was desperately cleared by the Hawks defense. Hawks center midfielder Mike Goldman tested the Real Maryland keeper with a well struck blast from 20 yards that was parried off a diving save which subesquently clunked off the crossbar. As the halftime whistle blowed, the score line remained 0-0 but the Hawks looked to be settling into the match nicely.
The second half saw the Hawks looking more comfortable and beginning to engage in nice combination play and utlizing the flanks more than in the previous stanza. Their efforts were rewarded in the 55th minute when a counter produced a layoff pass to outside midfielder Mike Minai at the edge of the right side of the penalty area. His running one time blast hugged the ground and slipped into the near post for a 1-0 Hawks margin. Real Maryland looked to be tying the game when a ball over the Hawks defense saw a forward streak into the penalty area, only to fire his shot wide of Hawks netminder Nick Carlin-Voigt and safely away for a goal kick. The Hawks played the role of opportunists in the 70th minute when Real Maryland's keeper made a poor pass that was scooped by Hawks midfielder Nidhal Charfi for a smooth conversion and a 2-0 Hawks lead.
Real Maryland pulled one back in the 80th minute off a nice counter which sent their speedy forward streaking to goal with only Carlin-Voigt to beat. His cool finish made the score 2-1 with plenty of time for Real Maryland to equalize. The Hawks defense was able to hold off Real Maryland for the remainder of the match and ensure the result. The two teams will meet again on March 10th, and the affair will surely be an even more difficult test for the Hawks as Real Maryland will no doubt play more of their defined 2009 roster.
Defense: Nick Carlin-Voight (GK), Corey Curnutte (RB), Derek Potteiger (CB), John Stephens (CB), Clayton Voss (LB), Bryan Vitagliano (LB - '78)
Midfield: Mike Minai (LM), Mike Goldman (DCM), Watson Vaughan-Prather (ACM), Nidhal Charfi (RM), Titou Fierro (LM - 45')
Forwards: Erwin Diaz , Bryan Vitagliano, Jeff Tien ('75)