Cape Elizabeth, ME – The Worcester Hydra came into Sunday’s game vs. the GPS Portland Phoenix shorthanded with several players not traveling. They went into halftime trailing and knowing they would be without their leading scorer for the rest of this game – and the next one.
Worcester’s Alencar Junior was given a red card in the 43rd minute and the Hydra lost to the GPS Portland Phoenix, 2-0, at Hannaford Field at Cape Elizabeth High School.
Junior and Phoenix goalkeeper Ciaran Nugent were given red cards in the 43rd minute after a whistle. Junior went for a ball, but was unable to fetch it. He and Nugent got tied up and shoving ensued. The two were given red cards and were ejected from the game.
Goalkeeper Terrance Dieterich replaced Nugent in net and Joel Thiessen served the penalty.
“He’s our ace in the hole,” Worcester head coach Elvis Comrie said of Junior, who has scored all four of the team’s goals this season. “He goes out and we need to find other players to step up. Unfortunately, we’re still working and finding players to step up.”
The Hydra (2-2-1) also played without Colin Murphy, Russell Guidici and Taylor Washington. Comrie used several new players, including three who made their debut for the Hydra.
Thomas McNamara and Eric Robinson, teammates at Brown University,, and Charlie Rugg, who had been training with D.C. United, each made their season debuts, while Michael Bustamante played in his second game of the year.
“It was a little disjointed, we didn’t play our game,” Comrie said. “We didn’t control the tempo, we didn’t change the point of attack, and that’s to be expected with a lot of new players playing for the first time today.”
“You try to do the best you can in that situation and the players responded well in the second half, but it wasn’t gracious enough,” added Comrie.
Rugg has played with Murphy and defender Chris Ager at Boston College.
“We have some connection and know each other’s style of play, so that’s good, but we have to get everybody else involved in that,” Rugg said.
Despite the newcomers, Comrie said they did not have a lot of time to practice with each other. Comrie said he hopes to have the players work with each other more before they play the Western Mass. Pioneers on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium.
“You have to train, you have to work,” Comrie said. “We’re limited. Our players have other commitments and we don’t train as much as we’d like to.”
“We not only need to integrate the new players, but also expedite the learning curve as quickly as possible.”
Sean Hoek and Jason Massie scored for the Phoenix (3-0-1), who moved up to second place in the PDL’s Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference.
“The score reflects, we got outworked,” said Comrie, whose team was held to one shot in the second half. “They won every ball, they wanted it more.”
Hoek headed the ball into the top right corner of the net past Worcester goalkeeper Jose Silva in the 25th minute to give Portland a 1-0 advantage.
In the 73rd minute, Massie controlled the ball from 23 yards out and sent a blast from the right side into the top left corner of the net past a diving Silva to put the Phoenix up 2-0, a lead they would not relinquish. Portland remained undefeated on the season through four games played.