The Orlando SeaWolves rallied from a multiple-goal deficit to tie things up but the visiting St. Louis Ambush scored with just six seconds remaining to sneak out of Silver Spurs Arena with a 7-6 win. The loss snapped Orlando’s modest two-game winning streak and dropped the SeaWolves to 3-4 on the season.
The SeaWolves also introduced a new alternate jersey tonight, the O-Town jersey.
The match began fairly balanced with some back and forth possession. The Ambush had a break in the ninth minute, but it ended with a beautiful save from Rainer Hauss. The Orlando goalkeeper made a quick outlet to a streaking SeaWolf that led to a shot, but unfortunately there was no trailing player to sweep up the rebound.
The SeaWolves opened the scoring off of a beautifully executed free kick by Thiago Freitas.
Orlando seemed to settle a little towards the end of the first period, and the Ambush were able to get some possession and take some shots, with only a few actually being dangerous. Too often, when regaining possession, the SeaWolves would lose the ball after trying something tricky in the midfield. In the waning seconds, after what should have been a foul called on Gordy Gurson was let go, the SeaWolves regained possession, and Johnny Mendoza put it in the back of the net to make it 2-0.
The second quarter started similarly to the first, with each team looking fairly comfortable, and enjoying relatively equal possession. The Ambush scored first in the second quarter after forcing a turnover on the yellow line and picking up a rebound at the top of the circle. Five minutes in and the play began to get a little chippy, with both squads trying to maintain possession and utilize the fast break on turnovers.
The SeaWolves looked a bit shaky in possession after the Ambush goal, but then, after forcing a turnover at midfield, Osvaldo Rojas took a pass at the top of the circle, got some separation from the defender, and scored.
Unfortunately, just seconds later, the Ambush pulled one back. About 10 minutes into the quarter, Mario Alvarez worked his way through the defense three separate times for three separate shots, although none troubled the Ambush keeper directly.
In the waning moments of the second quarter, the SeaWolves held solid possession and Rojas created a great deal of trouble for the Ambush defense with his possession and hold-up play in the corners, but he was unable to capitalize.
The second half started with Rojas getting a card for an apparent hand to the face, giving the Ambush a power play. The Ambush scored just 20 seconds into the power play, including a little celebration right in front of the SeaWolves’ bench and level the score was level at 3-3. Almost five minutes after the restart, the Ambush’s JT Thomas had a nasty collision with Hauss, dropping him to the pitch and earning himself a blue card, leading to a SeaWolves power play. About a minute into the power play, Ambush midfielder Justin Stinson made a nasty tackle on Victor France to earn himself a blue card, giving Orlando a 5-on-3. After finally settling in, after the first blue card time was up, the SeaWolves were able to get a few shots on goal, but were not able to take advantage of the power play. An own goal then gave the Ambush the lead with about six minutes left in the third quarter.
Edwin Rojas’ rough challenge in the corner led to another St. Louis power play. during which the Ambush scored, making the score 5-3. The SeaWolves responded with a good spell of possession, culminating in a handball call on the Ambush just outside of the circle with 35 seconds left in the quarter. The kick was blocked, and the Ambush looked to have a solid breakaway, only stopped by a clumsy and late challenge from France. The Ambush doubled down for the a good portion of the time left, throwing an extra attacker on, but the quarter ended with the Ambush still holding a 5-3 advantage.
The fourth quarter started with Orlando still defending a power play, but with a bit more energy and certainly extra determination. The counter attacking nature of the game became much more prevalent as the SeaWolves pressed players forward when attacking. After almost seven frenetic minutes, Orlando finally pulled one back, on a rebound goal from Osvaldo Rojas.
Just 20 seconds later, on a giveaway near the yellow line, the Ambush pushed the lead back to two, even after Luke Boden broke up the initial 1-v-1 threat. After the Ambush tried to take some time off the clock by trying to play a possession game, a giveaway at midfield, a beautiful pass, and a flick from Gordy Gurson brought the score back to a one-goal match (also a very friendly bounce). Then before I could finish typing that sentence, the SeaWolves tied it up at 6-6 on a beautiful free kick from Thiago Freitas, mirroring his earlier goal.
With three minutes left, tensions were getting pretty high on the pitch. The SeaWolves were able to dispossess the Ambush keeper on the edge of his area, and after a little scramble, the ball was poked towards the goal, only to be saved inches in front of the line by a quick thinking defender. Play got hectic, and with 11 seconds left, with emotions on edge, the ball went out for a corner and Gurson picked up a yellow card. On the ensuing corner kick for the Ambush, there was a deflection in the circle as the ball was shot towards goal, and it ended up in the back of the net, with 5.7 seconds left. The SeaWolves pulled the goalkeeper, but to avail as the whistle blew, ending the SeaWolves’ win streak at two.
“We just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities when they came to us,” said Head Coach Tom Traxler. When asked what he could tell the team after a loss like that, he said nothing, noting that the locker room was full of guys who were upset, because they know that they didn’t capitalize on the opportunities given to them, but they also understand that they aren’t out of anything yet.
The SeaWolves fly out in the morning to the frozen tundra of New York in preparation for their match Sunday against Utica City FC, which lost tonight to Harrisburg.
As a parting gift, I took a quick shot of a few folks you may recognize.