NC Battalion hosted the PDL’s newly added San Diego Zest’s reserve squad on Saturday afternoon. This week was a bye week from NPSL action for the Battalion who saw this match as an opportunity to tinker with their formation and give an opportunity to some of their players yet to see the pitch in NPSL action a chance to impress the coaching staff. The first half was influenced by the strong winds and bright sun as both teams managed long stretches of possession while absorbing pressure while creating multiple chances. Keepers James Stroud for the Battalion and Rick Reed for Zest each had multiple impressive saves to keep the score sheet clean in the first half.
The Battalion began the second half quite differently than what they have been able to muster up in their recent matches as several lineup changes were made. The speed and quickness from the start of the whistle was more than noticeable. The Battalion maintained possession and attack at an alarming rate when in the 54th minute Esteban Reyes slotted home the games first goal after a swift through ball served on a silver platter. Esteban does what NCB supporters have seen him do time and time again, put the ball in the back of the net. The North County defense became what it’s need to develop into for weeks: swarming, stingy and stifling. Captain Joe Shah got forward in to the attacking foray as he fired a pinpoint shot from a Eric Lopez cross and the crowd breathed a collective sigh with cheer’s of “Oh Captain, My Captain” rose from the faithful supporters. Concern crept back up in the stands as Zest player Emil Kirov rifled home a 25 yard shot in the 89th minute as a lack of communication and awareness caught the Battalion backline on their heels. No added time was needed in this match and the Battalion were able to close out the afternoon on a high note.
The match provided a great opportunity for several bench and reserve squad players to make their case to be included in the 18 as well as vying for starting roles. The depth and quality on the Battalion bench was evident as well as the focus and intensity to get a positive result and make a strong impression on the coaching staff. With another heavy week of training sessions and programs for NCB it will be exciting to see who Coach Ryan Guy selects to the 18 as we return to NPSL action at 7PM on 6/14 against Corinthians.