Hampton Roads' shutout streak reaches nine games
In the battle of the top two defenses in the Premier Development League, it was the Hampton Roads Piranhas (8-0-1) who came out on top with a 2-0 win over the Ocean City Barons (5-1-2) at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex. Andrew Wheeler and Zach Kinney scored for the home side, who have yet to allow a single goal in the first nine games of the 2007 season. To make matters worse for Ocean City, they spent the last half hour of the match with ten men after Adam Ennis was shown a red card for bad tackle on the Piranhas' Daniel Haywood.
With the loss, the Barons remain in third place in the Mid-Atlantic Division, eight points behind first place Hampton Roads, and one point behind the second place Virginia Legacy, who will pay a visit to Ocean City on Saturday night.
Andrew Wheeler, the Piranhas leading scorer, opened the scoring in the 6th minute with his ninth of the year. He received a long pass in behind most of the defense, and found himself in a one-on-one situation with Ennis. He managed to beat him with speed and found his way to the edge of the penalty area where he shot it past Adam Edwards for the 1-0 lead.
The remainder of the half failed to produce a second goal, but was full of action on both ends.
In the second frame, the Barons came out looking for an equalizer, and nearly had it in the 62nd minute when two shots on goal by Ocean City were cleared off the line by the Piranhas' backline. Two minutes later, the Barons biggest threat occurred when Sean Boyle took a free kick just outside the penalty area. Boyle went for goal and Hampton Roads goalkeeper Evan Newton made a fingertip save, lost the rebound, but still managed to save the second shot and the defense cleared it away from danger.
"We played a fantastic second half," said Barons' head coach Mike Pellegrino. "We were all over them, and had three chances near the six yard box, but just couldn't find the back of the net."
In the 69th minute, a nasty challenge changed the game completely. Ennis' clattering tackle on Haywood received a straight red card, and left the Barons with ten men for the remainder of the match.
After that, the Piranhas were able to take advantage. They added an insurance goal in the 78th minute off the head of second half substitute Zach Kinney, on a cross from Stephen Nsereko.
Adam Edwards made seven saves in his first loss since joining the Barons at the beginning of the 2006 season. Newton only had to make three saves to record his ninth straight shutout, which is likely a PDL record, but is yet to be confirmed.
The Barons are winless in their last three matches, with only one goal scored in that span. They will hope their early-season form returns when they travel back to Carey Stadium to square off with the second place Virginia Legacy on Saturday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. On Tuesday, June 26, one of the most important matches in club history will take place at the "Beach House" when the Men In Red face the Harrisburg City Islanders in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. If they are able to upset the City Islanders, they will move on to the third round where they will earn an away match against DC United of Major League Soccer. For more information on the Ocean City Barons, visit their official website at www.ocbarons.com.