After a 0- 4 loss and a 0- 5 loss against the perennial powerhouse Atlanta Silverbacks, it would have been easy to write off today's encounter between the VSI Tampa Flames and the Silverbacks.
However, after a strong week of practice, a full squad at Coach O'Connor's disposal, and home field advantage for the final game, the Flames came out ready to play and were not going to go down without a fight.
With soaring temperatures in the 90's, hundreds of fans turned out to watch a tactical battle that was in distinct comparison to previous games. Both teams were slowed by the heat, but this also created more opportunities in the middle of the field for Barbaresi and Bala to exploit. That they did, early in the game, combining to create a golden opportunity for Browning, before the Silverbacks GK saved leading to a corner.
Signs were strong in the Flames favor. "We were playing great soccer. We were working hard in training on shutting down their chances and making them play the way we like to play. This would limit their chances, but even after we gave up a silly goal in the first half, we always looked good going forward".
As the half winded down, a through ball by Barbaresi left Jordan Johnson 1 on 1 with the GK and after a little head tennis with her, the ball settled in the back of the net creating a 1- 1 score at half time.
The second half was always going to be the battle, with the conditions more than anything else. For once though, the Flames had more players than their opponents and with some tactical substitutions were able to stifle and frustrate the Silverbacks attackers. In fact, over the course of the game, despite the Silverbacks, dominating possession, the Flames had more opportunities. It was only through some great goalkeeping that the Flames did not finish the game 2- 1 victors.
"I am very happy with the outcome of the game. Both teams had opportunities to win today, but I think both sets of coaches will feel a draw was a fair reflection of the game. It is frustrating to be playing good soccer so late into the season, and if we would have had the full set of players throughout the league calendar, I think we would be sitting with more points. However, the next game is the important one, and now our focus shifts to the SC Cobras."
The goal has been to finished 3rd in the Conference and with only 1 game left, the great news for the Flames is that there is a real opportunity to attain that goal. The Flames final game is at JC Handly Park, Brandon, on Saturday July 14th at 7pm. For more information and to order tickets click here