On Saturday, August 13th, the Charlotte Independence and the Wilmington Hammerheads met for the third and final time this season. The Independence hosted the opposing team at the Ramblewood Soccer Complex in Charlotte. The last time both teams clashed on July 9th, the Hammerheads came out on top with a 2-1 win.
The Independence returned to Charlotte after a 1-month road trip, during which they acquired a four-game unbeaten streak. The Hammerheads were not as lucky, and were hoping to win against the Independence after losing two matches in a row.
The first half of the match got off to a very tense start. Independence player Joel Johnson received a kick to his back by a player of the opposing team during the first minutes of the match, but no card was issued. Just eight minutes into the match, the Hammerheads thought they would score their first goal with a corner kick by Wilmington’s Will Heaney, but no result came of it.
Enzo Martinez of the Independence and Liam Miller of the Hammerheads had some very tense moments towards the end of the first ten minutes; Martinez was complaining to the referee that Miller kept pushing him, and both players started shoving each other before the referee intervened.
The Hammerheads created another scoring opportunity during minute 17, but no result came of it. During the 23rd minute, a kick by Charlotte’s Caleb Calvert aimed a shot that accidentally bounced off an opposing player and flew dangerously close to the goal, but Hammerheads goalie Eric Ati showed off his agility by stopping the threat. During the 25th, the Hammerheads got very close to the Independence penalty area, but Independence defender Patrick Slogic swiftly deflected the ball. After being pushed several times throughout the match, Martinez was fouled by Wilmington midfielder Zev Taublieb, who was issued a yellow card in the 26th minute.
The tension between the teams was not cooling off towards the 36th minute when Independence defender Joel Johnson and Hammerheads forward Jermie Lynch started a heated argument that was once again stopped by referee Guido Gonzalez.
The second half saw a more determined Charlotte Independence. Calvert made his way past the Hammerhead’s defense, but his shot was caught by Ati. After a few more minutes of struggling against each other, Independence midfielder Jorge Herrera was strongly cautioned by the referee. Calvert once again almost scored for the Independence during the 63rd minute, this time with a header that did not reach the intended target. The Independence’s perseverance ultimately paid off, with a goal by forward Brian Brown just two minutes later.
“It was a good game overall, we are happy to get the three points at the end of the day,” Brown commented about the match.
For the remainder of the second half, the Hammerheads tried to push through the Independence’s line of defense to score the equalizer, but they were not met with success. The Hammerheads were issued two more yellow cards in the second half, leaving them with a total of four accumulated yellow cards for the match. The match ended at 1-0, and the Independence was ecstatic with their victory against their opponents.
“It’s a big win for us,” Independence head coach Mike Jeffries added about the match. “Tonight it was important for us to re-establish ourselves at home; we played really well against them, and we needed to win this one just for ourselves. I think tonight it was a bit grittier, and we weren’t able to establish ourselves position-wise, but it was a heck of a goal by Brian (Brown).”
The Charlotte Independence will play their next match against Orlando City B on Wednesday, August 17th.