It may not have meant too much in the grand scheme of the W- League regular season scheduling, but when the VSI Tampa Flames played the FC Jax Destroyers, the game had a feeling of a cup final. In what was a competition between two first year programs, both of whom have struggled for points this season, the Flames came out winners in typical storybook fashion, scoring the game winning goal with only 6 minutes left on the clock, for a final of 2- 1.
The game started out as a cagey affair with both teams not wanting to concede the ball and as a result, in the first few moments, there was more possession without any attacking taking place as each team wanted to make sure they were not the first to make a costly mistake. However, a mistake in the defensive third cost the Flames another goal, and that is how it stayed until the half where the Flames, under Head Coach Ged O'Connor, were able to regroup. "We were honestly quite nervous going into the game. For both teams it was a big game and we played that way in the first period. We needed to do much better but it was clear that we were trying not to make a mistake that would cost us a goal. We were playing not wanting to lose rather than going for the win."
After some tactical and positional changes at the half, the Flames came out more determined and played that way, controlling more possession and creating chances that kept the Jacksonville GK busy. 10 minutes into the 2nd period, great interplay between Autumn Browning and Yvonne George created the opening chance that George was able to slot into the corner.
That was when the game really came to life with both GKs being forced into good saves and it was more end to end soccer. Fortunately for the Flames, a corner late in the game produced a couple of half chances and a goal line scramble that Shelby Spinelli was able to force over the end line for the game winner. From there, it was a tense few minutes until the final whistle but the Flames hung in there for the win, the first in the history of the program.
"It was a great win for the girls. We have worked very hard over the course of the season but it is a tough league and we struggled early on. The girls are fighters though. It was easy to give up but we go out and train and continue to work on our weaknesses and go into the next game a better team .That is all we can do. The win was great but we start again tomorrow looking at the next game."
The Flames next game is at the VSI Tampa Flames home stadium at JC Handly Park on Saturday at 6:00pm in a rematch with the JAx Destroyers. For more information and to order tickets click here.