LOCO, CALIFORNIA — Assistant coach Mark Fullwood kept an eye on his smart phone for ninety minutes, tracking the other cup results around Series V.254. With Greenpoint leading comfortably 4-0 in the second half against a bot side, Manager Zorro Cat was not worried about advancing to the second round.
What was worrying, however, were the updates he was getting from Fullwood.
“He told me around the 70 minute mark that some of the sides were winning eight, nine, or ten nil,” said the manager in his post game press conference. “And I’m thinking, well, that doesn’t bode well for us now, does it?”
In the end, there was not much to worry about. Greenpoint slammed four more goals into the net during the final 13 minutes, including three in the final four minutes, as they coasted into the second round with an 8-0 victory.
There was worry, however, over the health of starting midfielder Slawomir Niemczak, who had to be removed from the game in the 89th minute after a nasty challenge from Thad Davidson, that saw the Loco player sent off for a second yellow card. With Greenpoint out of substitutions, both sides ended the match with ten men on the pitch.
“It was very worrying,” said the manager about seeing his midfielder taken off.
Niemczak has made 11 consecutive starts in competitive matches for Greenpoint, all of which were Greenpoint wins.
“The word from our doctor is more encouraging than we were expecting, though. He’s actually fit to play again, but he’s not 100%, so we have to make a decision on Sunday morning whether or not he’ll be fit to start against Bluesters.”
Niemczak played 89 minutes for a Greenpoint midfield that dominated the match, to the tune of 84% possession in the first half and 88% possession in the second.
The road side started their scoring early, with last year’s leading scorer, Trevor Marzullo (pictured), banging in a shot from the middle in the 5th minute. Ten minutes later, Greenpoint doubled their lead with a left wing goal from midfielder Matteo Lima. Gert Hardy and Jesus Cueva each scored a minute apart later in the half to give Greenpoint a 4-0 lead at halftime.
The second half started slowly for the Growlers. Substitutes Orn Saemundsson, Said Slaoui, and Imre Medvegy each made their way onto the pitch during the course of the first half an hour of the second half, while the score remained 4-0.
In the 77th, Greenpoint finally pushed another in, as Joffre Silver, the playoff qualifier hero from a week and a half ago, buried a shot after making a run through the central defense.
It looked like five would be all Greenpoint was getting, until the floodgates opened in the final minutes. Silver scored on a spectacular scissors kick in the 86th minute to make it 6-0. Slaoui pounded a shot from the other side a minute later to make it 7-0.
Then, in the final seconds, Thad Davidson pulled down Niemczak, and the Greenpoint midfielder did not get up easily. Davidson, already on a yellow card, was sent off by the official. Niemczak did not return, but Greenpoint got their revenge seconds later, adding another goal to the onslaught. They finished as they started, with Marzullo adding to the score sheet. The goal, his 16th competitive goal for Greenpoint, opened a three goal advantage for him over Jack Baumgardt-Wellander in the history books as team record holder.
Greenpoint United will have two home games this week, first in the league, as they open up V.254 play against Bluesters United on Sunday night. Then, in the second round of the cup on Wednesday, the Growlers will host heavily favored Spartan Curbstomp F.C. at newly renovated Monitor Park.
“This was a good win for us,” added the manager at the end of his press conference. “But this coming week is already going to be the trickiest week we’ve experienced yet, and this season is just starting. Strap yourself in and hold on tight, this season is going to be a bumpy ride.”