By Randy Kim, Kingston Stockade FC General Manager
KINGSTON, N.Y. -- For Kingston Stockade FC's home-opening weekend, the size of the historic occasion was only met by the atmosphere at the grounds. And the play on the pitch.
Taking the field at Dietz Stadium in Kingston for the first time in club history, Stockade managed two well-earned wins on back-to-back days against Rhode Island Reds -- 1-0 on Saturday -- and Greater Lowell United FC -- 3-0 on Sunday.
Just as impressive as the results were the attendances for both matches. Each match brought in over 850 fans, with Sunday's draw technically outdoing Saturday by two extra tickets sold (854 to 852).
The victory over the Reds was the first win in club history. The impressively lively atmosphere was established well before the first ball was kicked, thanks to the amazing drumming of POOK (the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston), followed up by Kingston mayor Steve Noble saying a few words to the home fans before taking the ball out to the center circle for kickoff with his son. [Watch: POOK hypes the home fans]
The day's focus turned to soccer from there. And the Kingston boys did not disappoint.
With Matt Koizol and Dylan Williams controlling play in the midfield, and defenders Jamal Lis-Simmons and Juan Gatti capably patrolling the back, Stockade was on the front foot for much of the day against a game Reds side.
Stockade threatened numerous times through the first hour-plus of play, but couldn't push through. Until coach George Vizvary decided to bring on forward Matt Daum, that is.
Gathering a corner kick from Koziol, Daum headed in the first home goal in Stockade history in the 72nd minute. The Rhode Island goalkeeper made a decent play on the ball, but only saved it after the ball had crossed the goal line.
The Reds had a player sent off for dissent after that, and while Rhode Island had one or two chances to equalize, nothing came of it, and Stockade rode a solid defensive display to a first home win in club history. [Watch: Saturday video recap]
If Saturday was about frustration for the home side in front of net, Sunday was all about finishing with flair and elan.
Koziol got things started early for Stockade, putting in a lovely free kick from about 25 yards out. Precisely placed in the upper 90 at the near post, the Lowell sticksman was helpless to stop the central midfielder's goal in the fifth minute. [Watch: Koziol goal]
Michael Creswick then scored his second goal of the season in the eighth minute, using an overhead flick to beat a defender before a precise finish that put Stockade up 2-0 early on.
Not to be outdone, powerhouse striker Corey Phillips then buried a fine strike in the roof of the net, giving Stockade a 3-0 lead in the 23rd minute that would hold for the remainder of the day. [Watch: Phillips goal]
Besides the goal-scorers, Willliams was again a maestro in the middle, and Lis-Simmons an anchor in defense. Tommy Steigerwald did a great job on the right side of the defense for the second day running. Matel Anasta dazzled with blistering pace and tricky dribbling. Nick vonEgypt put forth a classic two-way effort on the right side of midfield. And goalkeeper Stephen Skonieczny was a rock in producing back-to-back shutouts for the home side.
Next up for Stockade is a home match against New York Athletic Club on Sunday, May 29 at 2 p.m. ET at Dietz Stadium.