Opening night might not have gone quite the way the Jersey Express wanted as it played to a 2-2 draw against Reading United A.C. Wednesday night at Lubetkin Field in Newark.
But even without a win to show for their efforts, there was plenty for the team and head coach Jeff Matteo to be pleased with, in particular the way his team rallied from a 2-1 deficit and controlled the tempo for most of the second half.
“The boys played well,” Matteo said. “(Reading) went up 2-1 in the second half and I thought we fought back and really took over the game a bit.”
The Jersey Express (0-0-1) fell behind 2-1 in the 69th minute after Max Touloute's goal inside the left post. But the home team answered back moments later when captain Christopher Karcz headed a Walter Hines corner kick into the net to tie the game at 2-2 in the 70th minute.
After tying the game, Jersey Express had multiple scoring chances in the match's final minutes to take back the lead. They had three corner kicks after the 89th minute and during injury time, Danielle Ferraro's shot was blocked by Reading United AC keeper Chris Froschauer. Jersey Express' Noah Sadaoui went for the rebound attempt, but was called for a foul on the play.
Karcz, one of the team's top returning players, scored two goals on the night, both coming off of corner kicks. Karcz's first goal came in the 42nd minute as Christiano Fayemi sent a corner kick into the box and after the ensuing scramble, Karcz kicked it into the net.
“Karcz has been scoring great goals for years off of corner set pieces,” Matteo said. “He times it well and he just such a big threat in there and he always gets his head on it. He's just an all-around solid player that just gets involved. He wants to be brave, he puts his body in good spots to score goals.”
Reading United AC tied the game 1-1 in the 52nd minute when Jersey Express keeper Nick Trakany made a diving save on a shot attempt, but Reading's Nick Surkamp was there to convert on the rebound.
Trakany made seven saves for the match and Froschauer had 11 saves for Reading United AC. Overall, the Jersey Express out-shot Reading United AC, 21-10, and held an 8-0 advantage in corner kicks.
Joseph Ovenseri had a match-high seven shots while Karcz and William Paulino had four shots apiece for the Jersey Express. Touloute had a team-high five shots and Owen Griffith assisted on Reading United AC's second goal.
The Jersey Express return to action on Saturday, May 10 at 7 p.m. when it will host Northern Virginia