Gotham drops Courage on a late Goal by Lynn Williams
The matchup between Gotham and the Courage at Red Bull Arena is expected to be solid. Gotham currently sits in 5th place and is on a two-game win streak. The two teams sit just 3 points apart in the standings and while the season is young every point counts in this league. Gotham is entering having beaten Washington on Wednesday in the Challenger Cup and looking to ride that momentum to get the first league home win of the season. The referee and Pro delegate are discussing the weather currently with both benches, with thunderstorms due during the first half of play. A significantly bigger crowd tonight than on Wednesday, weather and the fact the Rangers and Devils are playing in NYC, Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs along with NYCFC playing at Citifield against Dallas it's a good size crowd. The weather is also playing a factor as well with major rain due in during the game with a threat of lightning delays.
The Torch has been lit and the starting lineups are in, the teams start the walk-in to Concrete Jungle by A. Keys. The supporters release the smoke, and the players are ready for the anthem announcement. Courage player Kiki Pickett kneels during the anthem, along with bench player Brianna Pinto. Gotham FC all stood during the anthem singing, and the teams take the pitch. Ashlyn Harris is sitting behind the team bench tonight taking in the game. Gotham started the match off strong, with non-stop runs into the final third but they struggled to find that final touch during the first half of play. Gotham is clearly the better team on the pitch tonight despite the sloppy finishing attempts. Ali Long was shown a yellow card in the 5' on a very weak foul that didn't warrant a yellow card. The ironic thing is it's the only yellow card issued by the center all match despite North Carolina committing at least a solid 6 yellow card fouls this game. Set pieces also saw some struggles for Gotham who had a plethora of opportunities tonight.
"Happy to get the win for the fans, they come and support us and deal with the weather and we needed to get them the win. I know lots of kids were in the stands and it was a shame so many had to leave due to the weather and the delay, but it was great to win for all of them." We asked Juan about working on cleaning up the final third to capitalize on the chances at hand given the large discrepancy in opportunities between the teams. " It would be nice to not have so many tight matches and games decided at the end, we are always working on improving our finishing in the box and on set pieces, getting a goal is always great and it's been great getting 3 straight clean sheets." -- Gotham Head Coach Juan Carlos Amoros
The game saw a long delay due to lightning in the area which led to a wait of over two hours for fans between halves. After the game, we asked Juan what challenges the team faced with such a long delay and how he made sure the team was ready for the second half of play when it did resume. " We had some experience to lean on with it happening against us against OL Reign before the start of the game and also in Orlando. This time it was at halftime, and we had some plans for it. We had some snacks for the players, and the staff worked with the players to keep them focused by reviewing some game plans, working on any soreness issues, and such. When we came back onto the pitch, I think in the first 5 to 7 minutes we could've scored one or two goals. We got off to a good start, but at the end of the day it comes down to the players and they have to execute which they did. They have so much trust in each other and hold ownership of how they play, so credit to them and the supportive staff for the performance after the delay."
Gotham came out of the gates firing on all cylinders just as they had in the first half and continued to bring the game to the Courage. Yazmen Ryan had herself a game, she was relentless on the wing and continued to spin Kiki Pickett around all night long leaving her in the dust and on the ground. Finally, Ryan saw all her hard work pay off in the 80' when she once again broke Kiki Pickett into pieces shredding her ankles to take the ball wide and then into the box down by the goal line. It opened up enough space for Lynn Williams to run onto a brilliant pass by Ryan and left no room for doubt as Lynn hit the back of the net with ease giving her 60 career regular season goals and her 3rd goal of the season. The goal sent the crowd into celebration along with the bench. Gotham would hold on to the 1 - 0 lead, and Abby Smith would record another clean sheet despite a bit of a hiccup when the pitch was saturated from the heavy rains, and she needed to make a double save to secure the win.
When asked about playing in the rain and its unique challenges by Soccer Long Islands Mercy Adu-Boahene, Smith answered "I think I just tried to make sure I was focused on the time, and before the delay, it was pretty humid outside so the ground stayed wet, so I made sure to stay focused on handling and also you just really have to keep your eye on the ball and obviously with the one double save I had to make I kept sliding and so I just had to kind of figure it out, the rains hard to play in but thankfully I got a lot of practice in Portland so now I'm just taking it into account here." following up the question asked by Jenna Tonelli on the halftime delay, I asked Abby about her being a keeper and most want to just get back out to play right away what was the delay like for her personally? " The biggest part for me was I didn't want to sit down, so I was trying to make sure I stayed calm because as soon as we step back out there you have to be extremely focused. Some people drink coffee, some drink energy drinks, and I tried to make sure I didn't let myself get too amped up cause you get too amped up in the beginning and then it ended up being two hours, so I just tried to stay hydrated, relaxed and I was stretching just kind of taking it easy as the easiest way of putting it. Then when we finally knew it was time to go out there, I had to switch my mentality back to knowing we are playing another 45 minutes plus stoppage time, so knowing that and realizing how much rain there was I think it just was I had to take it up another level so I could support the team the best I could but also make sure I stayed in the game the whole time." It is great seeing Gotham winning at home and keeping the momentum going. They're now riding a three-game win streak and looking to keep it up on the road against a tough Kansas City Current team.
Post-game with Yazmeen Ryan she was asked by Gotham Media what it was like seeing all the people who stayed through the delay in the stands. "It was definitely an energy boost and great to see so many people invested in seeing us win at home and wishing us well on the pitch," I asked Yazmeen about what she saw differently in the play leading to the goal that wasn't there in the previous trips into the box for the club given how dominant they were tonight in the final third. "I think us switching it up and me taking it down the line not crossing it too early, but taking the time to do my 1 v 1, spaces were a little more open because we got the switch early, I knew with the space there would be players open at the top, so it was just a matter of making sure the pass was quality and make sure I set my teammate up for success in the end. So, then I got it in and Lynn did her thing." Soccer Long Island's Mercy followed up by asking Yazmeen what she was feeling after the goal was scored. "Oh my gosh, I honestly don't know, it's so hard to describe, it was, I was so pumped and extremely proud and relieved in a way that we finally got one in after all the chances that we had during the game. Finally putting one away was so relieving, it's motivating, it was kind of a powerful moment for me, cause me and Lynn we made eye contact and we were just yelling cause we didn't know what to do besides yell cause we were just so pumped and it was so rewarding when you keep trying and trying and to do the right things and get in the final third and just put one away, it just feels really, really good." I asked Yazmeen about the chippy play and the frustrations with the referee and if there was any player or group of players that helped settle the team down. "Yeah, I think as a team when it gets chippy like that out there, we like to just bring the heat and bring it right back. I think that's what we try to do while still playing our game at the same time and not let that be the focus but kind of roll with it in a way cause we can't control the refs, we can't control what other players do so its important for us to just keep playing our game. So I think collectively everybody was on the same page, I think our leaders on the team Ali Long, McCall, Ali Kreiger, Kristy, everybody does a good job of making sure the team is on the same page and that we keep going on to the next, onto the next, so that collectively we are on the same page not to let the other team walk all over us but also to continue to focus on what we do."