Loyola crushes Nomads to take Group C lead
by rick olivares photo by anton sheker
Football teams respond to adversity in different ways.
Loyola-Nomads was more than a battle for one team trying to rebound from a loss and another trying to stay atop the standings. In their final league meeting from last season, Nomads snatched a valuable two points from Loyola when Steven Borrill drilled in a late goal to give Nomads a 2-2 draw at full time. The result threw a huge monkey wrench into Loyola’s bid for a league title. And that meant there was more motivation for this head-to-head than usual.
The Sparks came out attacking while Nomads looked menacing on the counter. Against Pachanga the other week, Nomads’ defense of the midfield was fierce but without the suspended Phil Connolly in this match with Loyola, they lacked the feisty and physical presence that threw off finely tuned midfielders like Boyet Cañedo and Ousseynou Diop. Loyola was given all the space in the world to operate as they worked their deliberate build up. Phil Younghusband threatened early on but it was Nomads that got on the board first.
With no Loyola defender with several feet of him, Nomads midfielder Mickael Cardoso unleashed a volley from outside the box that Sparks defender Chad Gould tried to block. That only served to redirect the shot over and above the outstretched hands of keeper Ref Cuaresma who was a little off his line for a 1-nil lead in only the eighth minute.
Down in the unlikeliest moments of the game, Loyola, instead of panicking, went back to their offense that they executed to perfection. Eleven minutes later, picked up a controversial penalty call when Sam Fogg allegedly fouled Phil Younghusband. Nomads head coach Mick Denison went ballistic over the call as Younghusband sent keeper Friso Klok flailing helplessly in the air for the equalizer.
Yet even before the penalty, it was obvious that Nomads didn’t play as tight on defense as they did against Pachanga as the Sparks had acres of space to operate. Another 11 minutes later, Younghusband beat the offside trap and uncorked a wicked shot straight past Klok for Loyola’s second score.
In the 40th minute, Loyola midfielder Mark Hartmann found left wing Byeong Yeol Jeong lurking unmarked on the left side of the goal and the Korean who earlier passed up a shot to look for Younghusband this time fired away for a 3-1 lead. That goal put the fight out of Nomads with still much to play.
After the break, Phil Younghusband found older brother James unmarked from 20 yards out whose delicate chip over Klok – who was also off his line – made it 4-1 for Loyola in the 49th minute.
The Sparks chalked up another assist when reserve midfielder Jang Jo Won lofted a cross from the left side to Anto Gonzales who came barreling in for a one-touch volley that made it 5-1 in the 59th minute.
In the 70th minute, James Younghusband evaded a defender then danced around an onrushing Klok. Rather than score himself, James waited for his younger brother who poked the ball in for a hat trick and a 6-1 lead.
Loyola continued its humiliation of Nomads when Jake Morallo, who came in for Phil at the 74th minute also scored in similar fashion when he juked a defender and Klok who was forced off his line to score into an empty net; 7-1, Loyola.
Morallo scored a brace in the 80th minute when he volleyed from close range to close out the scoring at 8-1.
The huge win put Loyola on level with Pachanga and Nomads at 2-0-1 although the Sparks took the pole position for the first time all season after their goalfest gave them 11 goals scored and a plus-seven difference.
Pachanga fell to second with a plus-three in goal difference while Nomads slipped to third with a negative five in the same category. “We just lost it after the score went to 3-1, 4-1,” said Jeff Blake, Nomads’ starting keeper who is still on the mend. “The penalty didn’t help at all but Loyola was on their game today.”
“We just can’t compete with players,” lamented a dejected and simmering Denison after the match. “then the refs make a bum call. It’s stacked against us. It will take a miracle for us to catch up now because we still do not have a complete lineup and our goal difference makes it an uphill climb. We have to find a way to respond to this game.”
With one match left for Nomads – against Mendiola – they will need to score some goals and for either Loyola or Pachanga to drop some points. Loyola has one more assignment also against Mendiola (Thursday, October 25 at 7pm at the University of Makati) while Pachanga takes on Laos in the nightcap, 9pm.
My thoughts that didn't make the piece:
In this match, I thought that what was key for Loyola winning this was the exceptional play of Mark Hartmann and Anto Gonzales. When Mark Hartmann is on his game he makes the offense flow. That is why when Pachanga shut him down it hurt Loyola. But not having Anto on the pitch also hurt the Sparks in that match. You already know what you are getting from the Younghusband brothers but for Loyola to win, the other mids have to play at a high level. I would like to make a case for Hartmann's inclusion in the national team pool. He is the best free kick taker in the country bar none. Just watching him take those free kicks and corners is a thing of beauty. He can provide the forwards with a steady diet of balls. If he works like he did yesterday then he can be a huge asset to a team. He might not be as fast as say Stephan Schrock but if the spirit moves him then he is a great footballer. While in conversation with some Singaporean coaches, they praised Hartmann and Gonzales for their play and technical skills. Just saying that he should be given a second look.
If Hartmann and Gonzales are key for Loyola, the same can be said for Phil Connolly to Nomads. I love this guy's play. Absolutely fearless. Luis Infante and Jason Arroyo should learn from him. If they can pick up his inspirational play in the midfield they'll be an even tougher team. Nomads really missed him yesterday. And Nomads should have parked the bus after the score went to 4-1. Now that goal difference hurts.