The Scorpions delighted the home crowd in San Antonio with a second straight home win as they edged NASL Spring Season title winners the Atlanta Silverbacks 1-0. Polish striker Tomasz Zahorski scored his sixth goal of the fall campaign to earn maximum points after the Scorpions had to adjust to losing joint league-leading scorer Hans Denissen (12 goals) to injury early in the game.
“I asked the guys at halftime just to grind it out,” said Scorpions coach Alen Marcina. “Games like this sometimes you just have to grind it. We got back to the basics: hard work in training and leaving it all out on the field.”
The Scorpions dominated the first half in shots taken and time of possession, and would have tallied more goals if not for the stellar play of Silverbacks keeperJoe Nasco, whose saves singlehandedly kept Atlanta in the game, until the Scorpions finally got one past him in the 64th minute.
At the beginning of the second half until the goal, Atlanta began to put more offensive pressure on the Scorpions’ back line. San Antonio used this pressure to counter-attack, which eventually led to the game’s only goal.
The Scorpions’ 64th minute opener came when Tomasz Zahorski perfectly headed the ball in the net off a corner-kick cross from Walter Ramirez. The corner kick was a result of newcomer Sainey Touray’s run into the box, where his potential one-on-one with Nasco was blocked by Silverbacks defender Alberto Navarro just before a clean shot could be taken.
Touray is just one of three San Antonio newcomers who joined the team on Friday. Dennis Chin is on loan from the USL franchise Orlando City, and former Silverback and Carolina RailHawk Ciaran O’Brien signed permanently with the team through the end of the season. All three newcomers made appearances in the match, with Chin the lone starter.
The first half began slowly, and once the first ten minutes were past, the Scorpions’ offense began to take form. In the 11th minute, the Scorpions’ Walter Ramirez made a perfect cross through the entire Scorpions’ frontline, but no one was able to capitalize.
The Scorpions kept the offensive pressure on the Silverbacks back line with a number of shots in the next few minutes, but were not able to convert. During this time of high-offensive output for the Scorpions, Hans Denissen dove in the box for a header in the 12th minute and collided with Atlanta’s goalie, subsequently sending him off the pitch because of an abrasion, which caused him to receive six stitches on his lip.
The Scorpions played with 10 men for about five minutes, until the 17th minute, when Denissen was replaced by Touray.
Just three minutes after Touray came on, the Scorpions’ Greg Janicki headed a perfectly placed shot from a free kick from Javier Saavedra, but Silverbacks’ goalie Joe Nasco made a great save.
The Scorpions kept the offensive pressure on the Silverbacks throughout the entire half, with more chances coming for Ramirez and Tomasz Zahorski. Zahorski had a great chance to score in the 29th minute, when his shot rocketed passed towards the goal and was just tipped over the cross bar by Nasco.
San Antonio’s Lyle Martin had a chance to score in the 39th minute, when he received a perfectly placed through ball and had a one-on-one with Nasco, only to be saved once again by the Silverbacks’ goalie.
Atlanta began to play better offensively in the second half, which to a couple of chances, the best being when they had a great run in the box and crossed it from the side of the net to William Hunt, whose header hit the cross bar and went out for a goal kick. After mere miss, the Scorpions began to play better offensively and eventually scored the game-winning goal.
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