Jade Tree United met the AstraZeneca Blast Sunday, December 19 at Ab Jones, in a heated match that would find JTU still unable to find any points, but giving the most impressive game of their season so far.
Jade Tree United suffered a pre-game blow when both Casey Gallucio and Alex Rudzinski were pulled out of the starting lineup with injuries, giving a rare opportunity to under-18 newcomer Steven Mann to start in Sunday’s game.
In addition to the injuries, Jade Tree United took the pitch without goalkeeper Mike Durbin, who was replaced with substitute keeper Paul Bryant.
Jade Tree United began the game strong, pushing into the Blast’s zone and taking several shots on goal. The Blast responded in kind, but the game stayed even for the first 8 minutes-with possession and shots split between the two teams-before Jade Tree United eventually conceded the first goal of the match.
Jade Tree United refused to let the deficit dampen their spirit and fought hard to keep the Blast’s lead to a minimum, something the team was successful at as the match headed into half time with the score held at 0-1.
Jade Tree United came charging out in the second half, realizing an opportunity by defender Keith Kendall (#8), who dumped the ball into the far side of the net, giving Jade Tree United their first goal of the match.
Kendall was able to score again almost immediately, buoying the JTU team spirits and giving the team a rare lead before the Blast scored two successive goals, giving them the lead at 3-2.
Moments later, Alfredo Agra, (#10) who received a ball deep into the Blast’s third of the pitch, quickly dumped the ball into the net and scored JTU’s third goal, tying the game at 3-3.
The tie, which was held for most of the second half, would eventually be broken by the Blast’s offense, who in the final five minutes penetrated a deepening divide in JTU’s defense, rewarding the team with a quick succession of three goals and ending the game with 7-3 loss for Jade Tree.
Speaking about Jade Tree United’s performance on Sunday, Manager Darren Walters commented that, “We had to be sound defensively and wait for our goals," manager Darren Walters said. "It was a performance with a lot of spirit."
Asked whether the team was going to find their season without a win to their name, Walters said, "That is not my belief. A lot can happen over the season. A lot can change. We knew this would be a big test and our three goals here proves that anybody can best anybody.”
Sunday’s match was Jade Tree United’s last match until the league returns from Winter Break on January 3.