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Wildfire Lose to Ukrainian Nationals in Game 1 of Hershey Cup

August 14, 2021. 10:00 AM. (Hershey, PA) – This past Saturday, the Wildfire entered into their first tournament of the season, playing in the 2021 Hershey Cup. With 8 teams across two brackets, Wildfire was placed into a their bracket slated to play 2 teams. Ukrainian Nationals out of Philadelphia, PA. Syosset Impact out of Woodbury, NY.

For the first game on Saturday the Wildfire would play the Ukrainian Nationals who were just come off a resounding win against Impact winning 14-0. 

As the game got underway, Wildfire had a number of good opportunities to score. Straight out of the gate, Abarbanel almost intercepted a recovered ball from the Nationals goalie who had to make quick work to save it from being kicked in. Shortly afterward, Abarbanel drove up the right side of the field, attempting to pass to Wagner but overshot it slightly causing Wagner to get to the ball too late for a decent shot. 

For the first 9 minutes defensive efforts by Santoni/Baker & Murray kept the ball upfield for the majority of time. At the 10 minute mark, however, the Nationals threw in from the left side of the field and the ball steadily made its way into the center of the goal box where Wildfire defenders tried to clear it unsuccessfully as the ball eventually ended up in front of a National player who booted it in for the first goal of the game. (0-1)

Abarbanel drives up the right side of the field
Abarbanel drives up the right side of the field

As they game went on other opportunities were had for multiple players. A goal kick from Murray to Thomas up the right side resulted in a beautiful cross but Wildfire were unable to capitalize on it while shortly afterward a trip in the box on Wagner was unfortunately not called. At the 14 minute mark, Thomas crossed again to Carey who took a shot but was scooped up by the keeper. 

The game had a lot of no-calls on both sides as the refs in this game seemed to want to let the girls play. Another close call was had at the 16th minute as Frey and Belgrave chased down a National who took a shot that bounced off Murray to deflect into the hands of McCutcheon for the save. Right after this, Blyden also had a chance to score as she moved quickly down the field to intercept a ball but got bunched up by defenders before she was able to take a shot. 

Frey drives to the top of the goal box.
Frey drives to the top of the goal box.

At minute 21′, Thomas was covering the approaching National down the lefts side when they passed into the center. The ball was subsequently tipped in past McCutcheon who might have very well had poor visibility to even see the ball due to the scrum. (0-2)

During halftime, the coaches tried to work on corrections and adjustments and the girls returned in the second half to try and mount a comeback.   Early on Wagner was tripped again during one of her approaches to the goal, but no foul was called. Later, McGinnis had a really nice move to beat her defender and kicked the ball up to Abarbanel for a shot which was blocked.

At the 32′, Wagner juked around a defender for a clear shot on goal before the goalie pounced on it. Hengbuoy had multiple good boots upfield for the day, but couldn’t place them near teammates for the score. At the 39′ Wagner was tripped again and this time a free kick was given. Hengbuoy took the free kick which resulted in another Wagner shot attempt for no goal. 

At the 45′ mark, Carey suffered a bloody nose and had to leave the pitch and at the 48′ an free kick for the Nationals lofted high and over McCutcheon’s hands for the 3rd goal of the game. (0-3)

Hengbuoy prepares to kick clear the ball from an oncoming National player
Hengbuoy prepares to kick clear the ball from an oncoming National player

The Nationals were probably the best team in the tournament and the loss means the Wildfire will most likely need to win out from here in the tournament in order to get back to the championship game. Up Next. Wildfire vs. Syosset Impact.