Ortiz scores the lone goal in lightning-shortened match
NEW CASTLE, DE (May 12, 2007) - The Barons opened their 2007 season on the road against the Delaware Dynasty and came away with a 1-0 win in Mike Pellegrino’s debut as head coach. Sean Boyle’s corner kick found the head of Jeremy Ortiz in the 25th minute to give the Barons the early lead which they held for the remainder of the match. However, the game was halted in the 85th minute when lightning was spotted and after the weather failed to cooperate, the referee was forced to call an end to the match. Tonight's contest was also the first of four U.S. Open Cup qualifying matches. The Barons, who have had success in the tournament in the past, have not qualified since the 2005 season when they advanced to the third round.
"This was one of the most stressful weeks I've had as a coach," said Pellegrino about the preparation for the season opener. The beginning of the PDL season is often difficult because teams have a short amount of time to play together before the first game, and the lineup wasn't finalized until the day of the match.
The opening 15 minutes was a typical first game, with both teams struggling to find a rhythm. It wasn't until the 15th minute when Mt. Laurel's Jeremy Ortiz broke in on goal but wasn't able to get the power he needed, and his shot was easily saved by the Dynasty netminder Billy Trimble.
The Barons, who controlled the majority of the first half, earned a series of corner kicks around the 20 minute mark. Ireland native Sean Boyle sent a bending corner kick into the box and Ortiz nearly had the game's first goal, but Trimble made a spectacular diving save to his right to keep the game scoreless. Five minutes later, the same combination would finally break the tie. Boyle delivered another corner kick and after a scramble in the box, the ball fell to the head of Ortiz, who headed it home for the opening goal.
With a couple minutes remaining in the first half, Delaware found themselves on a breakaway, but LaSalle's Jim Davis came from behind and was able to get a toe on the ball, allowing goalkeeper Adam Edwards a chance to clear the ball away. The play was one of many made by the Barons' backline, who only allowed Delaware to get off four shots. The opening day lineup consisted of Davis on the right side, with Joe Banks and Adam Ennis in the middle and the lineup's biggest surprise, Barons' general manager Neil Holloway at left back.
The Men in Red created the majority of the chances after the halftime break and the Dynasty offense rarely threatened Edwards in goal. Byron Carmichael was given two breakaway chances five minutes into the half, firing just wide on one attempt and Trimble coming off his line to save the other. Later in the half, minutes after coming on as a sub, Lee Catchpole was sent through by Boyle, and after dribbling left and getting past the Trimble in goal, the angle was too sharp and his shot on net was cleared by the Dynasty defense. In the 82nd minute, Kyle Evans made an impression as a second half substitute, receiving the ball near the corner flag and drawing a double team. He managed to beat both defenders, dribbled down the touch line, and send a perfect cross into Villanova's Miles Harrison who sent the ball flying over the bar from close range.
In the 85th minute, the referee brought the match to a halt when lightning was spotted in the overcast sky, which had been threatening rain throughout the night. A major thunderstorm swept through, and the officials decided to call it a game.
"In the PDL, it's always important that we make a good start, especially with the first games being qualifiers," said Holloway. "We don't have a lot of time to prepare before the first game, but this team is really coming together quickly."
Next Saturday, May 19, the Barons travel to Charleston, WV to take on the West Virginia Chaos at 7:30 p.m. The Barons then return home for the club's home opener at Carey Stadium on Tuesday, May 22 when they take on the Reading Rage. For more information, visit the club's website at www.ocbarons.com.