September 11, 2021 9:30 AM (Westminster, MD) – This year the Wildfire was placed into the top group of the EDP South Atlantic Division for their regular season play, amongst 8 other teams from around the tri-state area. Amongst those teams was Pipeline Black who they would play in the first game of the season. In an interesting side note, Pipeline Black was placed into a higher bracket for the WAGS tournament scheduled later this year , despite the fact that Wildfire was ranked higher both statewide and nationally. This and the fact that Pipeline had historically won in years past, probably provided a little more motivation to win in this first game.
In contrast to the type of fields played on in the past month, the new home field (at the Coppermine/Four Seasons) for the Wildfire would be played on turf and so the game play was much faster out of the gate. Within 90 seconds of the start of the game, there was a goal kick from Pipeline and the ball was tapped out to a defender who tried it clear it but it was quickly intercepted by Stone who sent a beautiful crossing shot into the right back of the net as the goalie was simply not ready for it. 1-0
Later at the 4’ mark, a Pipeline player brought the ball up the left side and sent a beautiful cross to the right wing but a nice save on McCutcheon’s part was made before they could get a shot off.
At the 9’, Pipeline was awarded a free kick just outside the penalty box but it sailed a good 5 feet over the crossbar. 2 minutes later a trip was called on the opposite side of the field just outside the goal box for Wagner. Hengbuoy would take the shot and send it perfectly into the upper right corner of the net to make it 2-0.
At the 12’, Hengbuoy tried to send it upfield but the ball was deflected and went back down the middle where a Pipeline player took it and ran directly toward McCutcheon for the shot. Murray raced up behind her and got just enough foot on it to save the shot which would have been a very good look if it had been allowed to happen.
A minute later, a throw-in from Pipeline directly into the penalty box bounced to Hengbuoy who tried to clear it but was blocked and it bounced to an open Pipeline player but Belgrave was able to boot it out and clear it.
At the 15’, Frey drove down the left side of the field and sent the ball up ahead to Blyden who raced a Pipeline defender to the ball as they both tumbled to the ground before she could get the shot off.
Three minutes later Stone took a shot from the left side (eerily similar to the shot she had made before to score earlier) and it sailed just right of the goal.
At 19′, on a throw-in for Pipeline from the left side into the penalty box, the ball was deflected back out to the side as a Pipeline player launched the ball across to the right side of the goal. McCutcheon was able to see it just in time to prevent the goal and scoop it up. Within 30 seconds of this, Pipeline produced another cross that was cleared by the defense and booted back up the field.
With 8 minutes to go in the half, Pipeline punted the ball from a corner kick as Stone did a great job of deflecting the ball out and McGinnis kicked it away.
At the 27’, Carey chased down a Pipeline player on the right and stole the ball away to send it back up to Wagner who took it and drove it to the right of the goal before taking a shot that was deflected from the goalie for a corner kick. The subsequent kick by Henbuoy was lower than her usual and was deflected and cleared.
With one minute left in the half, Thomas was crossing the field with the ball with a Pipeline player in pursuit and she was tripped up at the sideline before barely hitting a metal post.
At halftime, the Wildfire coaches were fired up and made their adjustments and suggestions for play in the second half.
At the 31’, Santoni drove up the left side with a pass to Stone who accelerated and sent a rocket into the goalie who deflected it back to her for a second attempt which was blocked and cleared to the side. After the throw-in , Wagner got another very good shot and almost snuck one in on the left before the goalie was able to recover it.
On another play 2 minutes later, Hengbuoy sent a cross-field pass up to Stone who was unable to connect. At the 34’, Pipeline launched the ball into the penalty box and it bounced off Murray as Pipeline’s right wing went in for the shot but McCutcheon was there and able to save it.
At the 35’, Baker passed up the left to Stone which was then passed to Abarbanel who juked out the last defender to take a shot to the left but it was saved by the keeper. Shortly after, a corner kick from the right was set up and Hengbuoy sent a beautifully placed ball into the back post where Stone missed the tip in just by a hair.
A couple minutes later, Pipeline had a very good corner kick from the left but the Wildfire defense were able to prevent any opportunities for Pipeline’s offenders to connect and Santoni ended up clearing it.
At the 45’, Wagner intercepted the ball off a Pipeline throw-in on the left side to take it and try a shot but was tripped up in the penalty box. Hengbuoy took the shot but went high above the crossbar. At this point some words from the Pipeline coach to the ref about the call were said but nothing came of it and play continued.
At the 49’, Pipeline took the ball and crossed center field to pass it up to a wide open player for a shot before it was whistled off-sides. Despite the call, the player took the shot into the upper corner of the right side and McCutcheon, clearly still locked in, jumped up to save it anyway.
With 10 minutes to go, Stone threw it in from the left side to Abarbanel who crossed it to McGinnis who came within a fraction of a second of tapping it into the goal before the goalie was able to land on it.
A Pipeline corner at the 52’ mark was blocked by Hengbuoy and cleared. And 3 minutes later a free kick was awarded above the goal box for Pipeline and the ball was aimed at the left corner of the net. McCutcheon had a beautiful jump to tip it out and Pipeline would get a corner kick. On the corner kick the ball sailed through the air towards the near post and Belgrave deflected it and kicked it away.
At the 56’ , Thomas drove and crossed the field from right to left all the way to the goal where she took a shot but it was scooped up by the keeper.
With 3 minutes to go, the ball was driven down the left side of the field by Frey and ended up in Hengbuoy’s path where she took a shot but it was deflected off the back of Blyden only to have Hengbuoy try again where it hit off the back of Blyden a second time and is cleared out.
With that the whistle blew and the Wildfire notched a win for their first game of the season. Next up, Bethesda SC ECNL.