As the New Castle County League begins the Christmas holiday break, Jade Tree United remains top of the table with a three game unbeaten streak.
The latest win took place Thursday, December 21 at the PAL 2 center as Jade Tree faced their rivals, FIST. After three seasons, this rivalry has now taken its rightful place as a match not to be missed alongside other such classics as Manchester United vs. Liverpool and Barcelona vs. Real Madrid.
With local supporters filling the stands and the media on hand for this prestigious meeting, Jade Tree took to the pitch with the look of champions, despite missing forward Mike Hoffman (knee) and with Mike Leyva (exhaustion) and Darren Walters (broken toe) playing injured for most of the game.
As always, the match began tentatively until Victor Alvarez broke the deadlock in just under three minutes, securing JTU’s first goal of the night. Alex Milne sent a searing wide shot from the left to put JTU up by two before FIST responded with their first goal.
JTU marked the FIST players tightly, restricting their movement into the Jade Tree third of the pitch. FIST was still able to put another one into the United net before the real onslaught from Jade Tree began.
Mike Leyva stripped the FIST forward of the ball and netted his first of the night, while Scottish International Milne bagged his second immediately thereafter.
Leyva was quick on the ball once again after receiving a pass across goal from Casey Gallucio and putting JTU up 5-2.
As the half entered injury time, Ryan Man shook his man and spun for a far corned goal that left Jade Tree United up 6-3 at the half.
Jade Tree clearly had the greater desire for the win and was not about to lie back in the second half. The team was aggressively pushing FIST back into their half and making sure FIST players never got a chance to get shots on goal.
JTU got right back to scoring with a stunner from Alex Milne (completing a hat trick) and a sublime turn from Ryan Mann, pushing the score to 8-4.
Jim Brooks was wrongly carded for a foul on a FIST player in the box and thus a penalty was given. JTU goalie Brain Olden was having another great game, but FIST was able to put the penalty by him, making the score 8-5.
The greatest moment of the game was perhaps when right back and retired Cuban International Alfredo Agra made the run from his defensive end into the FIST final third to receive a pass and soundly score his second goal of the season.
With the end of the match mere minutes away, Alex Milne capped off his wee scoring for the night with yet another perfect shot -securing Jade Tree’s third successive win of the season, 10-6.
Jade Tree supporters erupted with applause and gave the team a standing ovation as they left the pitch. The team, who has had a stunning run of form, will return January 9, 2007 when they face FMC.
“We’ll be working hard over the break to make sure that we return an even better team in 2007”, stated Manager Darren Walters. “We are serious contenders for the title this season.” With visits to ATM United’s MAC Field and Valley Strikers stronghold “The Valley” in the near future, Jade Tree United could face some challenges. “And that is what helps mold this team-courage under fire. I’m proud of my team and the fans should be as well. They can be sure that this team will not be caught off guard this season and will not be easy to beat.”