As the Albion Pros soccer team prepared for its season home opener against Temecula FC, fans, staff, players and coaches were excited to welcome back soccer to San Diego. After defeating Deportivo Coras 1-0 in the first game of the NPSL regular season, Albion headed back home to San Diego to face Temecula FC. Leading the way for Albion was Goal Keeper, and nominee for the Mitre Player of the Week award, was Jean Antoine. Jean did not surrender a goal in his first 90 minutes of play, and was hoping to continue his good play. Before the match we had a chance to interview Albion Pros Head Coach Ziggy Korytoski and asked him a few questions.
He explained that the players to watch included GK Jean Antoine and Forward Matt Clare and that they could provide the difference. It was a gloomy afternoon in San Diego as fans anxiously awaited the start of the match. The referee blew the whistle and Albion took control from the get go. Albion had possession of the ball early as they fought to create opportunities early on. Ten minutes into the match number 10 Felipe Liborio of Albion took the first shot but was blocked by Temecula’s Goal Keeper Salem Bortcosh. That shot lead to the first corner of the game for Albion. Soon after number 9 Matt Clare crosses the ball in looking for Tre Hayes who almost puts in but Temecula’s GK Salem Bortcosh had yet another spectacular save. Albion began to apply the pressure as Temecula seemed to be on the defensive. Tre Hayes and Felipe Liborio proved to be problematic for the defense as they seemed to always be around the ball in the first half. In the 17th minute Tre Hayes got behind the defense and look to have the first goal of the game until the defense came in and tackled Hayes in what appeared to be a penalty but no foul was called as the referee let the game continue. Fans immediately cried for a foul as Hayes was visibly upset with the no call. But Albion refused to slow down as they were awarded a free kick not long after. Number 9 of Albion Matt Clare stepped up to take the shot that curled left over the wall of defenders as he barely missed the top left corner. Although Albion continued to apply pressure and tried to put the ball in the back of the net, one thing was preventing them from doing so and that was the exceptional play from Temecula GK Salem Bortcosh. Save after save Salem Bortcosh proved to be the deciding factor going into half time all tied up at 0-0.
As the second half commenced, Luke Staats, Captain of Albion, had to be subbed out due to injury. Albion appeared to take a hit but came out just as strong as they ended in the first. Seven minutes in at the 52nd mark Albion came close to producing their first goal on a header from a corner kick but it just missed left. The entire game Albion tried to create opportunities for Forward Tre Hayes, as he was a big problem, standing at 6 foot 4, for the defense. Shortly after the corner, yet another controversial call that would have been a penalty kick in favor of Albion was not called. The support from the fans never died as they continuously cheered on their team. Chants were heard from Albion’s Deep End, group of hardcore fans that would only become more and more enthusiastic.
Temecula began to go on the offensive as Goal Keeper Jean Antoine of Albion had a great diving save in the 60th minute. Thus the clean sheet remained intact. Not a minute later Felipe Liborio delivered the first goal with a beautiful header off a cross in the 61st minute. The crowd went wild as Albion celebrated their first goal of the season at home. All of a sudden Albion had all the momentum as they pushed for their second goal. Another near goal came short after for Albion on off another free kick attempt by Matt Clare. With Albion at full force they continued to attack and found their second goal. Forward Matt Clare found an open space right outside the box and delivered a beauty to the back of the net with a spectacular half volley. The crowd erupted as Albion celebrated their second goal and what proved to be the dagger in the game. Temecula was determined to score and began to attack the defense but GK Jean Antoine would not give up. Temecula had a beautiful run down the middle that led to a great shot down and to the corner, but the Haitian GK refused to surrender a goal and made a fantastic diving stop. In the 88th minute Albion attempted to score their third goal with another shot from Albion Forward Matt Clare but Temecula’s GK Salem Bortcosh continued his impressive goal keeping and saved what would have surely been the final blow.Temecula made one last push for a goal as they pushed forward and received a free kick in the 90th minute. The shot would end up missing wide left and the game came to an end.
Forward Matt Clare was declared the Man of the Match not only for scoring a goal, but providing a spark for the team and helping in more ways than your average player. After the game I had a chance to congratulate Matt and asked him a simple question, “What is one word you would use to describe tonight’s game?” he responded, “Electrifying.” Albion Pros are now 2-0 and remain undefeated as they head up north to battle their fellow San Diego neighbors the North County Battalion on Saturday April 16th at 7pm at Del Norte High School. We have added our highlight video and a photo gallery below.
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