June 29, 2010—8:39 a.m. EST
LAKEWOOD, N.J.—The New Jersey Blaze were overturned by FC Buffalo once more this weekend, though the squad put in an extremely spirited performance with one or two excellent individual efforts as the team fell to a 2-0 defeat in front of over 300 home fans in its temporary home location of Lakewood, NJ.
The first half played out without many great opportunities. “We lacked intensity and desire,” said Rob Napier, the head coach of the Blaze. “The game was there for us to win, but events of the second half led to another loss at the hands of Buffalo.” The heat sapped a lot of energy from the players quite quickly, meaning that substitutes were necessary to ensure quick soccer was always being played. This fatigue, combined with other factors, led to the Blaze going 1-0 down.
The first goal came early in the second half when the ball was passed out wide to Andy Tiedt, who took several touches before he curled it into the box for Richie Wilson, who headed it home decisively from six yards out.
However, the Blaze had a chance to win it back after 70 minutes when Mathieu Larrouturou showed great energy and desire to get around the defense and into the box. Drawing a foul from behind, the Blaze were handed a penalty. Up stepped Cory Bachstein, who up until that point had showed great strength in defense. Despite sending the goalkeeper the other way, the ball hit the post and was cleared away from the danger zone, firmly establishing momentum with Buffalo after they escaped the possibility of a tie game.
A few minutes later, a corner kick from Mike Unwin was knocked outside the box to Dan Stevens, who took a touch before he rifled it into the back of the net from 30 yards away. The strike would be the last great chance during the game and would also give the second goals for both scorers for the 2010 season, with the pair only notching up their first conversions the day before in Reading PA, when Buffalo lost 4-2 against FC Revolution.
Commenting on the team’s website, FC Buffalo assistant coach Matt Stuczynski - who filled in for regular head coach Jim Hesch - congratulated his team, explaining that the blank first half was hard-fought and was not indicative of Buffalo at full strength. “It was nice to see that we came to form in the second half and stringing some passes together. It was good to see the ball go in the net twice for a good victory.”
Napier, meanwhile, thought the missed spot-kick was key to the defeat. “The turning point came with the penalty, as we were in the ascendancy then. I would have fancied us to go on and win it from there, should we have converted it.”
“Kevin Gramata in particular had an absolutely brilliant game wit some world-class saves. He just didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.” He concluded: “We’ll move forward by working hard and playing with more of a will to win. We need better quality and composure in the attacking third and we also need to take the opportunities we have, such as penalties and indirect free-kicks in the box.”
The New Jersey Blaze are the central New Jersey members of the National Premier Soccer League, the highest level of men’s amateur soccer in the United States. They are part of the New Jersey Soccer Group, a management company for a family of soccer based organizations offering a full range of soccer services in New Jersey.