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Wildfire Win Battlefield Blast Championship over Hereford
Coach Wagner and the team sit before the game
Coach Wagner and the team sit before the game

August 29, 2021 2:00 PM (Hanover, PA) – This past Sunday the Wildfire played in the Championship game for the Battlefield Blast Tournament against the Hereford Maroon. For the second time in a month, the Wildfire battled back from an initial loss in a tournament (the previous one being the Hershey Cup) to end up in the championship game against the team that beat them. And just like before, the Wildfire coaches had the girls ready and locked in to try and bring home the trophy. 

From the outset the energy from the girls was high and the focus was noticeable as the ball stayed on the offensive side of the field for the first 3 minutes.Shortly after the 3’ mark, Baker passed the ball up to Abarbanel who dribbled through traffic to take a shot from 20 ft out on the left where the goalie tried to stop it, but it went through her hands into the goal to make it 1-0.

30 seconds later, the ball was stripped from a Hereford player and taken by Abarbanel up the field, passed up to Wagner who dribbled through 3 defenders and took another great shot on goal which sailed right.

Carey prepares to throw the ball in to center field.
Carey prepares to throw the ball in to center field.

At the 4’ mark, Santoni’s throw-in to Wagner up the center was chipped in to McGinnis for a shot which got swept up by the keeper. One minute later, on a Hereford throw-in, the ball was intercepted and kicked back up to Wagner who was tripped for no call but Abarbanel was able to continue the drive and get a very good look within 10 ft. of the goal but missed wide-right. 

For the next 7 minutes Hereford tried to get the ball into Wildfire space but could only get slightly past midfield before the Wildfire defenders pushed it back. At the 12’ mark, Santoni threw in from the right side to Frey and it deflected back to Santoni who launched the ball into the Hereford penalty box where Blyden had a nice run and opportunity to get a shot off but missed wide-right.

At 15’’ the Wildfire were granted a corner kick and Henbuoy came up to take the kick which sailed to the far post before dropping into space with no one there to capitalize.

At the 20’, on a throw-in from McGinnis, the ball dropped into the penalty box to Abarbanel who juked two players, doubled back and sent it towards the upper left side of the net as the keeper went to scoop it up and Stone was waiting there to pop it in. 

Abarbanel dribbles between defenders on her to way to making a shot
Abarbanel dribbles between defenders on her to way to making a shot

A minute later, Carey threw the ball to Abarbanel who sent  a shot toward the goalie who missed the grab, but the ball trickled out to wide left anyways.

With one minute remaining in the half, Hereford started to have some success and made it downfield for the first time in almost 20 minutes. A free kick was given from just outside the center circle and was launched down into the penalty box right in front of McCutcheon and a Hereford striker, but McCutcheon scooped it up for the save. 

Baker slides in to intercept the ball from a Hereford player
Baker slides in to intercept the ball from a Hereford player

A minute into the second half, Hereford was awarded a free kick just outside the center circle but it sailed wide-left as McCutcheon let it go. Two minutes later Hereford got another shot off from the left but it went straight into the arms of McCutcheon for another save.

For the most part, the defense of Baker/Murray/Santoni/Belgrave kept the ball from reaching the inside of the penalty box as the majority of play remained on the other half of the field. Ten minutes later, at the 38’, both teams were returning the ball back and forth on the field when Baker was able to loft the ball up and over a few defenders to put it in front of Blyden. Blyden sped to the ball to outrun her remaining defenders and tapped it past the goalie to the right side of the goal to make it 2-0. The goal was the first for Blyden for the season and she was visibly excited as she ran back to mid-field.

With 10 minutes to go, Belgrave threw in to Abarbanel who drove diagonally up to the top of the penalty box and shot but it went wide-left. At the 43’, Abarbanel intercepted a goal kick from Hereford and passed it to Wagner who tried to drive into the penalty box for a shot but was tripped (no-call). Stone attempted to recover the ball from the Hereford defender and Wagner moved to assist and stole it only to be tripped again within the penalty box for a PK. Hengbuoy was told to take the PK and she sent it just left of center into the back of the net to make it 3-0.

Blyden is elated after scoring her first goal of the season.
Blyden is elated after scoring her first goal of the season.

With 5 minutes to go Abarbanel is called for a push and a free kick is awarded to Hereford from outside the center circle. The kick was easily recovered by McCutcheon who then sent it back up the pitch. 2 minutes later, on a Hereford corner kick , the ball sailed into the penalty box but Hengbuoy was there to chest it and clear it and within minutes the whistle blew to end the game and the Wildfire won the 2021 Battlefield Blast Tournament in comeback fashion.

Murray and the team celebrate with Coach McGinnis after the win
Murray and the team celebrate with Coach McGinnis after the win