BROOKLYN, New York – For the second straight week, a Greenpoint United match hit the 80:00 mark with the Growlers leading by a goal. Last week, against Terrapin in Los Angeles, Greenpoint conceded twice in the final ten minutes, turning a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 loss. This week, Greenpoint again led 2-1 when the clock hit 80 minutes. This week, the lead was gone again, Emanuel Gatto volleying home a header from an indirect free kick to bring Real Clinton level at 2-2. Would Greenpoint capitulate again, like they had at Terrapin, and find defeat snatched from the jaws of victory once more?
Not this time.
Jacobo Esperon’s 82nd minute goal, his third goal in as many games, gave Greenpoint a lead once more, and this time, they would not relinquish it. The Monitor Park crowd, silenced just two minutes earlier by Gatto’s equalizer, went into a frenzy. There would be no turning back now. Greenpoint earned their first win at the Division V level, pulling them out of the automatic relegation zone and into sixth place in V.254.
“I just swung my leg back and hoped for the best,” said Esperon (pictured), Greenpoint’s right back. “They played without a defender on the left side for much of the match; really, we were just trying to take advantage of that as best we could.”
Real Clinton’s 3-5-2 formation sacrifices a left back in exchange for two central defenders. To counter, Greenpoint put their heaviest attacking options down their right wing. The result: all three Greenpoint goals came through the right side.
The Growlers struck first in the 18th minute as right winger Anthony Baron buried a shot from the corner of the box into the top of the net. Real Clinton responded with an equalizer just after the half hour mark, as a Bennett Luther cross from a tight angle caught the Greenpoint defenders by surprise. Julien Cantat was there to pound the ball into the goal to make it 1-1.
Greenpoint responded within three minutes, as inner midfielder Gert “The Hurt” Hardy volleyed home a cross from Baron on the right wing to make it 2-1 at the halftime break.
The home side made a few substitutions in the second half to keep the legs fresh, as Imre Medvegy came on at center back for Viktor Uharcek and Orn Saemundsson came on up front for Jack Baumgardt-Wellander. On 75 minutes, Medvegy nearly put the game away, but his chance to extend the lead to 3-1 was tipped wide by Clinton’s keeper, and the resulting corner game to nothing.
Then, at 80 minutes, disaster struck for Greenpoint, as they failed to clear a set piece, and Emanuel Gatto leveled the score at 2-2.
“It was bad,” said manager Zorro Cat (pictured right). “It looked like we were collapsing again. We won’t stay at this level if we can’t hang onto leads. We would have been almost assured relegation if we couldn’t come up with three points tonight. Thankfully, it didn’t end after the 80th minute!”
Within 100 seconds after conceding the equalizer, Greenpoint were winning again, as Esperon thundered a winner in from 20 yards out.
The Growlers have climbed out of the automatic relegation zone with the win, into sixth place, on goal difference ahead of the Terrapin side that beat them last week. The fixture list does not get any easier, though, as they will twice face the first place Young Chemists, second place Bree Prancing Ponies, and fourth place West Lafayette Griffins over the next six weeks.
“It’s gonna be… something,” said the manager. “Something, indeed.”