Port Royal and North Carolina finish in tie

Lt. j.g. Jeremy Bottomley breaks out in front on his way to kicking in the first goal of the game.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

USS North Carolina (SSN 777) scored early in the first half, but USS Port Royal (CG 73) got on the scoreboard late in the second half to end the game in a 1-1 tie in a Summer Soccer League matchup on Aug. 26 at Earhart Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

North Carolina, who entered the game in sole possession of third place, currently holds a record of 3-2-1, with Port Royal holding a record of 1-4-1.

North Carolina took an early lead after converting a goal on only their second shot on goal in the first half.

After missing their first shot, Lt. j.g. Jeremy Bottomley took a pass on the right side of the field and drove to the goal on a breakaway.

Seeing that he was in a one-onone with the goalkeeper, Bottomley took the ball even with the top of the box, before kicking a shot in for a goal.

The goalkeeper tipped the ball, but it wasn’t enough to block the shot, as the ball came off the tips of his fingers and made it just under the crossbar.

“After I took a cut, I saw the goalie was diving left, so I had to aim for a high shot,” Bottomley said. “I was worried that it was a little too high. It hit the top bar, but it went in.”

Although the goal was scored early in the game, things dried up for North Carolina, as the team was handcuffed by the Port Royal defense.

Combined with the hot and dry conditions of the day, Bottomley said that both factors played a big role in the outcome of the game.

“They (Port Royal) had a lot of subs,” Bottomley said. “I think they just had fresh legs and that works out all the time.”

Meanwhile, Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Ariel Malagon of Port Royal had a different take on why North Carolina was locked down.

He said that while Port Royal used their subs to their advantage, it was team strategy that created so many problems for North Carolina.

“It just takes a groove at first,” Malagon said. “Everybody is stiff. You’re trying to figure out how the team plays, you see who’s attacking and who’s staying back. We just observed it real quick and then we figured out who was doing what.”

The first half ended with North Carolina holding a 1-0 advantage.

In the second half, it appeared that North Carolina was on the verge of the holding off Port Royal to get the win, but with only minutes remaining in the game, Malagon came up with a huge play.

As the middleman in a breakaway, Malagon took the point, flooded the box and then kicked a shot straight past the goalkeeper to tie the score at 1-1.

“At that point, you put it all out there,” Malagon said. “You’re hungry, so you got to do what you got to do to get a point. That was it. If you got an opportunity, you take it. You can make a pass or a lot of things, but when you feel it, you take the shot.”

Later on, Malagon got a chance to help Port Royal steal a victory, but during a penalty shot opportunity, he misfired and got his shot stopped.

“I saw him (goalkeeper) dodging left and I tried to hit it right down the middle,” Malagon said about the possible game winner. “He’s long and he hit it with his leg.”

Coming into the game in 9th place out of 11 teams, Malagon said that teams with better records might take Port Royal lightly.

If that happens, he said that they better be prepared for a surprise.

“We’ve had a few losses,” Malagon said. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t come here and play. We’re going to show up every time.”

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Category: Sports