|ILF Members (left to right): Conor Nibert,|
Elie Jean, Austin Hagemann
It was a cool Wednesday night under the lights as the boys began their usual warmup routines off of Silver Star Road. As kickoff approached, their usual laid back teenage attitude began to turn into that of a mature player. The touches got sharper. The ball moved quicker. A battle between the home team Evans High, and the visiting Edgewater High from a little ways down the road, was about to take place. And what a battle it would be...
As the man in the yellow top blows his whistle, the first touch is made. Evans plays the ball back and begins what would be a long night of simple possession for the boys in white. It did not take long for them to put one into the back of the orange netting either. 3rd minute: Trojans speedy right back Wendy Edouard broke down the sideline, cut across the eighteen yard box after beating an Edgewater player or two, and put a left footed shot past the keeper Jay Nisbett.
The boys from across town continued to attempt to break up plays but seemed to always be beat to the ball by the quick Evans side. Their speed was shown again in the 8th minute as a precise through ball puts the home team Captain & right winger Dave Dessources in behind to take a touch past the Nisbett and slot into an empty net. A mistake on the wet turf by Nisbett puts Evans up 3-0 in the 12th minute (left winger Nathaniel Atkinson). The mishit clearance makes an easy slot in for the high-pressuring winger.
Finally, in the 35th minute the Eagles get their break. A handball in the box gives the struggling side a penalty kick. The #10 forward Javon Bartley (who easily matches pace with the Evans squad) calmly places the curling ball to the left of the keeper. A corner kick gives them their second chance. A header from the Kyle Beckerman-like dreads of midfielder Nick Masotti back across goal and into the side netting puts them within one. The boys in red seemed to have got a little spark by putting two away going into halftime.
That fire would almost immediately be dampened. Two minutes into the second half another great through ball causes Nisbett to come off his line for a 50-50 challenge with the onrushing forward Kwesi Caesar. The boy in white would win the duel for another slot into the empty net. Eventually a sloppy challenge by an Evans defender would give the Eagles another PK as Bartley placed it in the same spot to put them back within one again. As the second half wore on both teams began to possess the ball quite well. Each side created quality chances. But in the 70th minute, hard work would pay off for the Trojans. Co-captain Bazil Beneco wins the ball off a center back and slots it past Nisbett once again.
Just like any story, this one has a happy ending, though. As with any soccer match, there is always storylines beneath the match. Not only did high school players and coaches take the field on Wednesday night. Three Iron Lion Firm members, who support Orlando City together till’ death do them part, took the field. Conor Nibert slowed down the Evans boys at center back as his “brother”, Austin Hagemann watched from the bench with a sprained ankle. Coaching the Evans side to a 5-3 victory was another firm member: Elie Jean.
*Side Note: The scoreline does no justice for Edgewater keeper Jay Nisbett. He was not afraid to come off his line and made quality interceptions to keep the scoreline what it was. Including a huge one-handed save around the 60th minute.