Despite a gutsy performance on both ends of the pitch, Kingston Stockade FC fell to the Brooklyn Italians on Saturday, a 1-0 result on the turf at LIU Brooklyn. A first-half defensive miscue led to the Brooklyn goal, but in spite of being red-carded down to 10 men midway through the second half, Kingston threatened to come back right up until the very end.
It was a disappointing result on a night where goalkeeper Steve Skonieczny played one of his best games for Stockade FC, turning away numerous Brooklyn shots that could have led to a lopsided loss, including one breathtaking penalty kick sequence midway through the second half. But it was a night of excellent goalkeeping on both ends of the pitch, with Brooklyn’s Michael Bernardi also on top form.
“Steve gave us a chance to win, a chance to stay in the game and a chance to stay in the season to a certain degree, and that’s all you can ask for from your goalkeeper,” said Kingston coach David Lindholm. “He had a great night and some pretty incredible saves to keep the game at 1-0 and give us a chance to do something with a minute left and have chances to impact the game late.”
Momentum shifts are part of any game, and in soccer they can last a few minutes or much longer. Stockade’s momentum built in the thrilling second half of last week’s 4-4 home draw with reigning National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) champion Elm City Express seemed to spill over into the early stages of the team’s trip to Brooklyn, as they spent nearly a half hour on the Italians’ side. But somewhere along the way Brooklyn bounced back.
“I thought the first 25 minutes we had a lot of the ball and we were playing really well, and then we couldn’t get the game back after that,” Lindholm said. “I’m not as good as I could be about recognizing what tactically changed after 25 minutes or so that sort of got us out of the game.”
It wasn’t until the 33rd minute on a breakaway goal by Brooklyn’s Thomas Suchecki that the shift in momentum became apparent. And from there on, at least until the waning moments in stoppage time, Stockade FC was unable to get that momentum back.
Arguing leads to ejection
It didn’t help that Kingston drew the ire of the NPSL referee. In the 69th minute Afonso Pinheiro drew two yellows in rapid succession for dissent, leading to a red card and a dismissal. After briefly sitting on the trainer’s table, Pinheiro moved back into the bleachers before being told to leave the area entirely, banished to the locker room and possibly out of Brooklyn altogether.
Later, Juan Gatti picked up a red, also because of an accumulation of yellow cards. His first came on a first half foul, and his second as he left in a substitution and said something to the 4th official.
“We gave him reasons to throw us out of the game,” said Lindholm of the head ref. “I think our mistakes were bigger than anything he could have done to influence the game. From a strictly refereeing standpoint, I thought there were some little calls early in the game that he missed that made it more contentious later on. But from a dissent standpoint, we got red cards because we committed dissent. And that’s really disappointing. And that’s what I said to the guys post game. It’s something I feel bad about, and I want to apologize to our fans and to a certain degree to the league. We could have handled ourselves better than we did tonight.”
Of the roughly 100 people in attendance, around half were there to support Stockade FC, including members of the Dutch Guard, who did their best to keep spirits up with a series of increasingly creative chants.
Following the loss, Kingston is 2-4-2 overall.
On Sunday, Kingston gave 426 fans a chance to cheer at Dietz as they hosted Providence City FC under threats of a thunderstorm. With a few role players getting rare starts, Stockade won 2-1 with goals from Pedro Espindola and Scott Zobre.
Victories needed, and more
The path to the playoffs narrowed for Stockade following the loss to Brooklyn; the team must win each of their last two remaining regular season games, but they’ll also need help to slide into the final slot. The New York Cosmos B (24 points) and Hartford City FC (16 points) cannot be caught. Of the six teams still vying to punch their tickets for the last two slots, Kingston has the toughest road to travel. They’ll need to beat Boston City FC at Dietz on Saturday, and then they’ll have to accomplish what no other side has managed all season long: Beat the Cosmos at Columbia University’s Baker Athletic Complex on Saturday, July 7. Lose or draw in either and it’s all over.
Stockade will have to root for Brooklyn against both New York Athletic Club on Wednesday, June 27, and Greater Lowell on Saturday, June 30. That would ensure the Italians lock up the third playoff slot while simultaneously slowing the progress of two other teams in Kingston’s way. Victories on Friday, June 29 by both the winless Seacoast United Mariners and TSF FC would also help. A few other games would have to shake out favorably for Stockade to return to the playoffs, but as of press time the team still has a glimmer of hope. But they’re also playing these last two games for pride, to show their mettle in a season where in spite of some of the franchise’s best moments, they’ve lost or drawn games they feel they should have won.