The Force played their first Preseason match in preparation for the 2019 EPLWA Season on Saturday again the US All Navy Team, and after only two practices together the results were...promising. A lot of new faces played their first ever game for the Force outdoor anchored by some key veterans.
In the back, indoor vet and former Kitsap Puma, Matt Eronemo brought an immense amount of poise and experience to anchor a defense that only gave up 4 shots on target over the course of the 90 minutes. The midfield was held down by Leo Hernandez and Mitchell Balmer. Hernandez who saw his 2018 season come to an end with a Hamstring injury and Balmer who is just returning to the field after a difficult car accident, both seemed in good form. Up top, Leo's twin brother Alex and the 2017-18 Golden Boot winner in the WISL, was a strong point man in the attack and constantly drew attention away from newcomer Brandt Kelly.
In the first half, the game was all Force. It only took about 15 minutes before the high pressure level of the Force put them in front of the Navy Team. Johnny Cano slid across the field to intercept a pass intended for the right side. He ran at the Navy defense, cut inside onto his right foot and slotted the ball away inside the far post and the Force were up 1-0.
The pressure and possession continued for the boys throughout the first half. Coach Henry brought in his subs in the 30th minute including Force vet Leo Potts. In the 39th minute the long time veteran of the club earned a spectacular assist with a little flip past the defender to an on rushing Brandt Kelly who calmly slid the ball past the keeper. It was an encouraging sight to see the 16 year old put the ball in the net in his first ever game for the Force...but he wasn't done.
In the second half, the Navy increased their pressure and intensity level on defense but Eronemo and Sam Ebner never seemed to be overwhelmed in the back. Eventually, after weathering the storm of pressure sent at them, the Force started to get opportunities on the other end again. Finally, in the 74th minute, Kelly received a pass at the top of the box, took one steadying touch, and logged his brace for the game.
The game would finish 3-0 and from the Force perspective, the only real disappointment was not getting to see former Force center back Damion Brown on the field. Brown was unfortunately unable to play after tweaking a hamstring earlier in the week.
The Oly-Pen Force want to thank the US All Navy Team for a wonderful match and wish them well in their upcoming competitions. And a huge thank you to all the fans that came out to watch as well!! GO NAVY, BEAT ARMY!!