On a blue-sky day, the green grass of Port Townsend’s historic Memorial Stadium welcomed over 200 fans to the debut game of WWPL (Western Washington Premier League) newest Club, NPFC (Northern Olympic Peninsula Football Club), taking on the ISC Gunners (Issaquah Soccer Club).
Already with three league games under their belts, the Gunners (1-0-2) came in with 3-points and a three-way tie for 2nd place in the WWPL Division 2 standings.
Experience shone through early as the Gunners quickly brought the fight to NPFC, with strong communications, crisp passing and sure first-touches on the ball.
In the 6′ NPFC was caught flat-footed on defense and allowed ISC Gunners to open the scoring.
If not for a handful of spectacular saves by the NPFC goalie, Hayden Price (#25 (Port Townsend), the Gunners would have mounted an early and decisive lead.
However, thanks to a full roster of 18 eager players, NPFC was able to keep waves of fresh legs substituting regularly into the match.
NPFC’s forward Pablo Salazer settled a long ball over the top, and scored a nice goal, only to have it called back for off-sides in the 25′ of play.
In the 36′ Silas DeWyse, #14 (Port Townsend), scored the first-ever competition goal for Northern Peninsula FC by playing his right wing-back role to perfection and lofting a long-distance cross from near the right sideline and about 25 yards from the Gunners goal. The Gunner’s goalkeeper was caught off his line and was unable to deny DeWyse’s game-tying goal.
The tie didn’t last long as the Gunners capitalized in the 2nd minute of the first-half stoppage, on a lucky deflection off the back of an NPFC defender, causing the NPFC goalkeeper to be caught wrong-footed for any potential save.
The first half ended with ISC Gunners leading NPFC 2-1.
Playing with no subs and only 11 players, on a warm spring day, the ISC Gunners came out for the second half with both barrels blazing. Early on it looked as if the Gunners would capitalize on already having a trio of Western Washington Premier League matches under their belts, as NPFC was still figuring out freshly substituted formations and player communications early in the second half.
Yet, quickly the heat and lack of substitutes caught up with the Gunners.
Momentum shifted, and NPFC was enjoying better middlefield control and offensive distribution across the width of the pitch, thanks in a large part to coach Juan Carlos and assistant coaches David Breckenridge and Robert Cantley who deserve much of the credit for changing NPFC tactics deal with their long balls over the top at halftime.
Finally, in the 53′ Ryan Tolberd, #11 (Sequim), received a far-post flick-on header across the Gunners net and slammed it in to tie the game at 2-2.
After Tolberd’s goal the Gunners were out of ammo and straining to mount much offense against the solid, and constantly refreshed NPFC defense.
In the 63′ Roland Donanberg-Platt, #4 (Port Townsend), drove down the left wing into the Gunners box, opened his hips, and with his sure right foot, sent a laser shot into the top-corner of the far goal post, giving NPFC the lead for the first time in the game.
In the 73′ ISC Gunners went down to 10-men as their captain suffered a hamstring injury. NPFC closed out the game when Pablo Salazer, #15 (Sequim), converted a half-field controlled run – with the ball constantly at his feet – into a goal, nicely slotted goal past the outstretched ISC Gunner’s keeper in the 88′.
Northern Peninsula FC premiered in the WWPL Division 2 with a win. The final score was NPFC 4, ISC Gunners 2.
NPFC next host Snohomish County’s Gala FC, Sunday, May 23, 2PM kick-off at Port Townsend’s Memorial Stadium. Advance ticket sales are open online now!
PT Leader’s coverage of same game (same story)