On a rain soaked field at Portsmouth High School, the Seacoast United Phantoms fell to NY Red Bull 2-0 Saturday afternoon in a National Premier Soccer League Northeast Division matchup.
The Phantoms looked to jump on the scoreboard early in the 7th minute but Sean Bahktiari's shot from 8 yds out was pushed wide of the goal. From that point, both teams struggled to get anything going offensively prior to halftime and the weather would definitely have its say over the course of the game.
One scary moment in the first half came from a free kick in 45th minute. The shot from 30 yds out was misjudged Phantoms keeper Gio Sinclair, who then slipped in an attempt to challenge and the ball was played out of bounds. The ensuing corner resulted in a header over the bar for NY.
Perhaps the best opportunity for either side was in added time just before the whistle. A dangerous strike from a Red Bull midfielder 38 yds out during the run of play tried to catch Sinclair off his line but just missed, screaming over the bar.
The wind-driven rain picked up again just 6 minutes into the 2nd half, forcing both teams to battle not only each other but also the elements for the final 39 minutes.
It wasn't until the 76th minute where someone was able to break through. NY Red Bull outside midfielder had a clear shot on goal from wide right, using the wet surface to make Sinclair's job a bit more difficult. The rebound on the skipping shot popped loose, sending Sinclair scrambling to pounce. It appeared as if he secured possession of the ball but Red Bull striker Blerti Hajdari tucked it away for the 1-0 lead.
Sinclair was injured on the play and was forced to leave the game, resulting in defender Sean MacDonald assuming goalkeeper responsibilites for the remainder of the match.
Just 5 minutes later, Hajdari struck again, this time on a laser of a shot from approximately 30 yds out to the upper right corner to give NY the 2-0 lead and eventually the win. Red Bull is currently the league leader within the Northeast-Atlantic conference of the NPSL with a 5-0-0 record, while the Phantoms sit in 4th place at 1-2-2.
The Seacoast United Phantoms remain at home for their next two games, hosting Mass United FC in the 2nd of a doubleheader with the WPSL squad on Wednesday, June 6th. Game times are scheduled for 6pm and 8pm at Portsmouth High School.
On Sunday, June 10th all three Seacoast United Phantoms teams will take part in a tripleheader, as the Club celebrates its 20th Anniversary. All games will take place at Portsmouth High School, with the women starting the day at 3:30pm vs. CFC Passion, followed by the PDL men at 5:30pm vs. Ottawa Fury, and then the NPSL men at 7:30pm vs. Brooklyn Italians.