KINGSTON, N.Y. — Playing matches on back-to-back days is a tall order in soccer, even at the game's higher levels. But when you've got squad depth and players willing to fight through bloody difficult situations — literally — then anything is possible. Even six-point weekends.
Coming directly on the heels of a 4-0 away win against New York Athletic Club on Saturday, Kingston Stockade FC managed an equally impressive 2-0 home win against Rhode Island Reds on Sunday afternoon, in front of 714 spirited home fans at Dietz Stadium.
Coach David Lindholm was forced to make six changes to his starting XI from the squad that won in impressive fashion the day before. This brand of dramatic overhaul usually leads to continuity problems, but one of the new starters was the first to find the back of the net. Nimble Brazilian winger Pedro Espindola scored with a lovely finish in the 62nd minute, coming off an assist from English forward Michael Creswick.
Much to the delight of the home fans, after scoring his second goal of the season, Espindola ran off the pitch, onto the Dietz Stadium track and towards the home fans, who met the jubilant University of Albany product with wild applause.
Steady holding midfielder Matt Koziol completed the scoring for Stockade in the 77th minute with his second successful penalty kick in as many days.
Goalkeeper Steve Skonieczny then protected Stockade's second shutout of the weekend with a fine fingertip save very late in the match.
Perhaps just as impressive as any of Kingston's on-field play was the guts and determination shown by Poughkeepsie's own Scott Zobre. Zobre found himself on the receiving end of a hard elbow from of one of the Reds' players. Zobre's nose was well split open, and he had to come off the pitch in order to stop some extremely heavy bleeding. But after nearly 10 minutes spent on the sideline getting treatment from the trainers, Zobre taped up his nose, changed into a new Stockade white kit with his number duct-taped onto the back — his other unwearable due to the amount of blood on it — and returned to full-tilt action when most players certainly would've called it a day.
Another compelling subplot on the day belonged to Mercy College product Juan Gatti. Gatti got married just the day before, but showed up to start for Stockade the following day, and brought what looked like most of the wedding party to the match with him. The skilled Argentinian defender had his own private cheering section in the stands, and when he was subbed off in the 90th minute, he received easily the loudest ovation on the day, one that even carried over into the post-match autograph session.
A festive atmosphere for a weekend well worth celebrating, for these six-pointers (each win is worth three points in the standings) don't come about too often. Although given the depth, guts and devotion on display by this Stockade side, maybe these maximum-point weekends will be the norm going forward.
Stockade Man of the Match: Pedro Espindola
Stockade Starting XI: Skonieczny; Curtis, Gatti, Lis-Simmons, Anasta; Koziol, Kloster, Maley; Espindola, Creswick, Zobre
By Randy Kim, Kingston Stockade FC GM