By Randy Kim, Kingston Stockade FC General Manager
WESTFORD, Mass. -- In the first match in club history, Kingston Stockade FC quickly set an extremely high bar for effort and mettle for the coming weeks, months and seasons ahead.
Despite going a man down in the 35th minute -- Joe Bogart suffered a questionable red card on a 50-50 ball in the middle of the pitch -- Stockade wound up taking the lead over Greater Lowell United FC in the 49th minute, only to give up an extra-time equalizer off of a free kick. The match ultimately finished 1-1, giving Stockade an impressive road draw in its first ever official game in the NPSL.
After Bogart was sent off, Stockade found a new focus and immediately picked up both the intensity and execution. Passes were crisper, tackles became purposeful, and players began driving at the Lowell defense, turning the home side on its heels.
This culminated in a lovely goal by Michael Creswick off of a one-on-one with the Lowell goalkeeper. Eric Fortier found Creswick with an insightful through ball, and the English forward muscled a defender off the ball before finishing with a precise chip that slowly trickled over the line before any of the Lowell defenders could reach it.
Play continued in the same vein for much of the rest of the match, as Stockade continued to push forward and apply a high line of defense despite being a man down. The midfield of Matt Koziol, Aldo Tropeano, Patrick Alvarez, Nick VonEgypt and Fortier were impressive on both sides of the ball, with Koziol doing a great job distributing the ball with perfectly weighted passes from a deep-lying role, while Alvarez and VonEgypt were relentless both going forward and tracking back.
On the day, the Stockade defense was as skilled as it was stingy, with Jeff Paine and Matel Anasta making threatening runs down the sidelines deep into the match. Jamal Lis-Simmons (captain) and Corey Phillips anchored the center of defense on the day, while goalkeeper Stephen Skonieczny showed steady hands and perfect judgment for the entirety of the match.
The Lowell equalizer came on what was effectively the final play of the match, the goal scored off of a free-kick cross. Skonieczny and Simmons were adamant with the referee that Skonieczny had been obstructed by a player that was well offsides, and there's every chance that that was the case.
But ultimately, Stockade might have earned a single point that could wind up being so much more than the customary three points that come with a standard victory. As this, to be sure, was no standard draw. It's the type of result that a team can build on in the weeks, months and years to come.
Kingston Stockade FC Starting XI: Skonieczny; Anasta, Phillips, Lis-Simmons, Paine; Koziol, Bogart; Alvarez (Cortez), VonEgypt (Steigerwald), Tropeano (Fortier); Creswick