By Randy Kim
KINGSTON, N.Y. -- For the home side, it was a disappointing result, to be certain. Yet it was a result laced with some degree of hope and promise. And a feeling that the next time the side from Kingston sets foot on the pitch, the result could be very different indeed.
Kingston Stockade FC fell, 3-1, to Hartford City FC on Saturday in front of an impressive 489 fans at Dietz Stadium, who stayed the full 90 despite numerous rainy interludes.
The match was the season-opener for both sides, and the first-ever match for Hartford, who just joined the NPSL this season. It was also the first match for new Stockade head coach David Lindholm.
Stockade came out of the gate flat, and paid for it dearly, giving up two goals in the first eight minutes of the match. The first was a breakaway strike by Ryan Taylor in the 4th minute, and the second came off a set piece and was headed home by Luke Albertini in the 8th minute.
But from there, the tenor of the match changed drastically.
Stockade controlled the bulk of possession, to be certain, with spirited and skilled play in the midfield from the likes of Matt Koziol, Ross Macklin and Michael Nittolo. Matel Anasta also proved a threat from left fullback, constantly making overlapping runs that challenged Hartford's backline. Meanwhile, Stockade's erstwhile left back, Juan Gatti, proved to be a minor revelation at center back, showing equal measures of grit and finesse in a position that calls for both.
Regardless, the final third proved unforgiving to Kingston, as the goals didn't come despite a number of opportunities created. Thus, the teams went into halftime with the scoreline still 2-0.
Stockade found a lifeline early in the second half, however, and not an unfamiliar one at that. After a Hartford foul at the top of the penalty area, Koziol showed his free-kick precision from last season was no fluke, and calmly dropped one in the far corner to get one back for the home side in the 54th minute and make the score 2-1.
Kingston continued to knock on Hartford's door for much of the next half-hour, and for all the opportunities created, it seemed to be only a matter of time before another goal went in.
And that goal did come. It just went against the run of play, however, and was scored by the visitors, as the speedy Ryan Taylor once again proved a handful on the break and put one home in the 85th minute to make it 3-1, a score that would hold until the final whistle.
In the end, an efficient and opportunistic Hartford side proved too much for the home club, and earned their three points on the day. But this isn't a loss that should leave Stockade feeling too despondent. There's plenty to build on before they hit the pitch again.
Stockade's next match is Saturday, May 20 at New York Athletic Club at 4 p.m.
Stockade Man of the Match: Matt Koziol