Worcester, MA- With time winding down, the Worcester Hydra knew they needed one shot to tie the CFC Azul. Thanks to a key bench player and a defender, they got it and gave the Azul an all too familiar feeling.
Andrew Mattarazzo set up Eric Robertson’s game-tying goal in stoppage time, and the Hydra rallied to tie the Azul, 1-1, Sunday at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium.
“I give them credit, coming back from giving up a soft goal and being short personnel-wise, the guys who contributed tonight showed what this group is all about,” Hydra head coach Elvis Comrie said. “They’re resilient, they have a never-say-die attitude, it’s a credit to them.”
Mattarazzo, who subbed in for an injured Bruno Bonicontro in the 73rd minute, threw the ball in from 12 yards out of the net over outreached CFC goalkeeper Matthew Sangeloty and found Charlie Rugg who deflected the ball to his left, where Robertson was there to kick the ball into the back of the net from point-blank range in the 92nd minute.
“We were down late in the game, so we got our bodies up. Andrew came out and had a long throw and put the ball into the back post. Charlie Rugg got up over his man and kind of headed it down right to me, so I put it away,” said Robertson, who has played in all six games since joining the team earlier this month. “It felt great. It’s always good. It’s kind of upsetting to tie the game, but it’s always good to come back from a deficit.”
Mattarazzo played in just his fifth game of the season and had not played in the team’s two previous games, but made the most of his opportunity.
“It felt pretty good after not playing a lot of games this year,” Mattarazzo said. “To get in there and finally make a difference, it felt pretty good to get the assist.”
The Hydra (3-2-5), playing without leading scorer Alencar Junior, were outshot 15-7, but had key contributions from Rugg, who played in his second game of the season after spending time training with several MLS clubs.
Junior, who leads the team with five goals, received a red card in Wednesday’s scoreless tie with the Western Mass. Pioneers and was inactive on Sunday. Defenders Chris Ager and Ambry Moss also did not play on Sunday.
Rugg started the game on the bench, but subbed into the game in the 23rd minute after Dylan Remick was injured. He led the team with three shots on the day.
“Charlie Rugg, to his credit, really stepped up and played large tonight and did a phenomenal job up top,” Comrie said. “He gave us a greater presence and a physicality up top and he created some chances for himself.”
The Hydra managed to earn a point in the standings, as they prepare for a crucial make-or-break stretch that can determine their playoff fate. Worcester hosts the GPS Portland Phoenix Wednesday at 7 p.m. before traveling to face the Vermont Voltage and the Ottawa Fury on back-to-back days starting on Saturday. The Azul (4-3-5) remain in fourth place with 17 points.
Goalkeeper Oliver Blum made two saves for the Hydra, who are tied for fifth place in the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference. Sangeloty recorded one save.
Mario Dimecili scored for the Azul in the 65th minute when he took a pass from Paul Templeton, dribbled past a defender and kicked the ball in the back left corner of the net to give the Azul a 1-0 lead.
The Azul managed to earn a point in the standings, but have been in similar situations before. In their team debut, they allowed two goals after the 88th minute against the Boston Victory and lost, 2-1. They also allowed one goal in stoppage time in their next two games, which were 1-1 ties vs. the Seacoast United Phantoms and the GPS Portland Phoenix.
by Matt Eisenberg