May 12, 2012
VIRGINIA BEACH. VA -- On their opening night of the PDL 2012 season, the newly formed Palmetto FC Bantams reigned victorious over the Virginia Beach Piranhas in a clean, hard-fought 2-1 win. With a crowd of more than 1000 in attendance, Gustavo Cunha assisted on both goals finished by Ryan Freiburger and Luke Perry, with the Piranhas rallying through a goal from Jerjer Gibson.
After a back and forth opening 10 minutes, the match settled in as the Piranhas took hold of possession and had the early chances, most notably in the 23rd minute from a corner. But as the game progressed the Bantams exerted more control over the match and were rewarded with a free kick from Gustavo Cunha, drawn by Mike Mangotic. A neat cross from Cunha saw Piranhas’ goalkeeper Tyler Benham punch the ball into the air, leading to the first goal in Bantams history, headed home by Freiburger in the 32nd minute.
“It was an unfortunate loss,” said Piranhas assistant coach Rafael Mendivil. “The other team played a lot of counterattack and that was how they were able to score.”
The Bantams did not stop there, in the 38th minute Cunha dribbled past three defenders down the right flank, cutting inside to find Perry who slotted home from 15 yards into the bottom left corner. The Piranhas fought their way back into the game and were rewarded for their efforts. In the 45th minute a lofted ball over the top lead to a miscued back pass by the Bantams, resulting in an unassisted goal from Gibson, cutting the Bantams lead to 2-1 at the break.
The second half was loaded with chances for the Bantams, but none translated on the score sheet. In the 50th minute, a high lofted corner to the top of the box set up Cunha for a volley that was palmed away with a great save by Benham. In the 79th minute, Bantams’ defender Jack Kimber dribbled forward for a 30-yard blast into the top right corner, but Benham was there once again. The Bantams’ Lee Squires also failed to convert a one-on-one breakaway and had a header called back for offside. As the game crept to a close, and the Piranhas pressed to try and find a late equalizer, the Bantams’ defense was up to the task and closed out their first win in franchise history.
Overall, for the second match of the season, Mendivil says the performance by the Piranhas was very good. “The team is really coming together and bonding well.” With more practice and conditioning, he and head coach Cesar Rizzo anticipate the Piranhas to win future matches.
The Piranhas will remain on the road next weekend as they meet in-state rivals, the Fredericksburg Impact, on Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. before facing the Northern Virginia Royals on Sunday evening at 5 p.m.