AC Crusaders drop two on the road

Erie Admirals 3 AC Crusaders 2 (7/1)

Buxmont Torch 1 AC Crusaders 0 (7/2)

It proved to be a tough weekend for the AC Crusaders as they made the long trip up to play the division leading Erie Admirals and face Buxmont Torch on the way home for their second game in two days.

Heading into the first game against Erie Admirals the AC Crusaders had to made adjustments as they were missing starters Evan Jaep, Neil Melchionni and Captain Adam Sternberger to work commitments and defensive stalwart Nick Bolton to a hamstring problem. Reinforcements arrived in the shape of young local South Jersey players, Matt Veltri from EHT and Sonimi Halliday, Gregg Biggiani and GK Richie Ongaro from the U17 Marlton Lightning.

Even missing players the Crusaders took the lead against the Admirals, Rich Stone with an ambitious 35 yard lobbed shot dipping over the fast backpedalling Erie Goal keeper sneaking under the bar and in to give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead.

The Admirals had to wait until the second half to reply, whilst the Crusaders bench and coaching staff remonstrated for a suspected foul on Anthony Procupio, Erie swept into the Crusaders box and finished well to bring the scores level.

Shortly after with Erie pressing hard they took the lead to make the game 2-1 Erie. The AC Crusaders were determined not to let their undefeated season slip away and threw caution to the wind, pushing forward in an aggressive 3-3-4 formation.

The gamble paid off with 4 minutes left to play, after some good play from Adam Veltri, James Totczyk made no mistake with the ball bouncing around in the Admirals penalty box.

The Crusaders joy was misplaced. As they pushed forward and looked for a winner on the road, the admirals played forward quickly and in behind the Crusaders. With every person in attendance expecting the offside flag to be raised the AC playing and coaching staff were shocked to see the referee wave play on. The Erie forward needed to no second invitation and drove in to the Crusader penalty box under pressure from debutant Sonimi Halliday and finished across Van Liew into the bottom left hand corner of the goal to send both benches crazy. The Admirals with joy and the Crusaders with despair.

AC Crusaders co-head coach Nenad Gorgiev said “Every single player, coach and spectator knew the last goal was offside but unfortunately that’s the way things go. We can’t make excuses and rely on referees for decisions, we need to win games ourselves.”

Heading into Saturdays game in Buxmont it was clear that the hangover of the previous days disappointed still lingered. Although welcoming back Jaep and Melchionni into the fold the Crusaders just couldn’t get going and conceded from a Buxmont wonder strike from range into the top left hand corner of the goal.

Although the Crusaders stepped up in the second half they were unable to find a way through a determined Buxmont defence and dropped their second game of the weekend and the season.

Coach Barry Lynch said “We’ve been stung twice in two days by referring decisions, we felt that there was a foul on James Totczyk in the build up to the goal and he has two suspected broken ribs to reinforce our suspicions. The players were flat today and we need to step it up next week in front of our home fans.

Assistant Coach Blackwell said “The boys had very heavy legs and it was never going to be easy chasing the game.

Defensively the frustrating thing is that they really only had one shot on target and it sailed into the top corner and although Neil (Melchionni) came into the game and made an impact we just never really got going offensively.”

The AC Crusaders next home game is this Saturday 7/9 against second placed FC Sonic at Egg Harbour Township High School. For more info contact [email protected]