Barons suffer first home loss in regular season finale, Piranhas are 8th team in PDL history to finish unbeaten
The Hampton Roads Piranhas made history on Sunday night with a 4-1 victory over the Ocean City Barons in the regular season finale for both teams. The Piranhas end the season with a 14-0-2 record, joining the 2004 Barons as one of eight teams in PDL history to finish unbeaten.
The Piranhas pulled off the victory despite playing the most of the second half with ten men. Jeremy Ortiz scored the lone goal for the Barons, who finish the regular season with a 9-3-4 record.
The visitors struck first in the 23rd minute when the team’s leading scorer, Andrew Wheeler, made a nice through pass to his brother Aaron Wheeler. Wheeler touched the ball past Barons goalkeeper Adam Edwards toward the right of goal, and then scored from a sharp angle to make it 1-0.
Andrew Wheeler was the playmaker once again in the 40th when he headed the ball into the box where John Nolz was able to fight off a defender and poke it past an oncoming Adam Edwards.
The home side nearly pulled one back just before halftime when Kyle Evans delivered a through ball from the left wing into the path of Byron Carmichael at the top of the 18-yard box. Piranhas goalkeeper Evan Newton came off his line and met the ball at the same time as Carmichael, and deflected the ball away to save the day.
The Barons went into the halftime break down 2-0, but would get a break when play resumed. In the 47th minute, Aaron Wheeler was shown his second yellow card after he delivered a high kick to Barons midfielder Ryan Heins, leaving the Mid-Atlantic Division champs short a man.
The home side wouldn’t capitalize until the 57th minute when Rob Youhill sent a lead pass up to Carmichael from the right wing. The pass put the team’s leading scorer in behind the defense. Once he got to the edge of the penalty area he fired a shot to the far post, which Newton made a full-extention save to his right. Unfortunately for Newton, he was unable to control the shot and Jeremy Ortiz pounced on the rebound to cut the lead in half. It was only the sixth goal allowed by Hampton Roads all season.
For Ortiz, it was his eighth goal of the season, pulling him into fourth place on the Barons’ all-time scoring list with 36 points (16 goals, 4 assists).
Three minutes later, the shorthanded Piranhas would make the game 3-1. Josh Nolz bent a corner kick into the box where 6-foot-4 defender, Yombi William, skied above the Barons defense and headed it into the upper corner of the goal.
The Barons failed to take advantage of the man advantage through the remainder of the second half and the game would conclude with an unbelievable strike in the 89th minute by second half sub Brannon Thomas. Thomas received the ball in the middle of the field, turned to face the goal and fired from about 35 yards out. The ball was about as well-struck as a ball could be, and was buried into the upper 90, giving Edwards no chance.
The two teams will now shift their focus to this weekend’s PDL Eastern Conference playoffs, which are being held at the Barons’ Carey Stadium in Ocean City, New Jersey. Friday, July 27 at 5:00 p.m. will feature the Piranhas against the Brooklyn Knights. In the second game of the doubleheader, the Barons will take on the Cape Cod Crusaders at 7:30 p.m. The winners of each game will play for the conference championship at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night.
Fans not able to make it out to Ocean City for Sunday’s match, or the conference playoffs, can listen to a live online radio broadcast. For a link to the broadcast, and any other information about the Ocean City Barons, visit the official website at www.ocbarons.com.