The Premier Development League side from Magnuson Ford Mariners FC split a pair of road games in Washington on the weekend.
On Friday, the Mariners battled the undefeated Northwest Division-leading Kitsap Pumas to a stalemate through 75 minutes, only to fall 3-1 on a pair of late goals.
The following evening, Cody Strelau’s goal in injury time lifted the Abbotsford side to a 2-1 win over the North Sound SeaWolves.
“There was a certain amount of relief with the victory on Saturday,” Mariners coach Ian Knight said, reflecting on the weekend. “The second-half performance wasn’t the best – we fell back into that mode we’d been in against Kitsap for the last 20 minutes, allowing them to get a couple goals on us. We made silly errors, really, because of it. But we’re certainly relieved and thankful for the three points.”
On Friday, Kitsap’s Bryan Burke opened the scoring in the 57th minute, and Mariners midfielder Sasa Plavsic equalized in the 75th. But the Pumas pulled away down the stretch.
Against North Sound, the Mariners found themselves in a very comfortable position at halftime. They led 1-0 on Danfi Parker’s goal, and the SeaWolves had a player sent off just before the break.
But 10-man North Sound gave the Mariners fits in the second half, and got the equalizer from Todd Wallenius in the 86th minute. But in the waning moments, defender Strelau made a run into the box, tracked down a deflected shot and booted it home.
“The second half was not very good from our position,” said Knight, whose team’s 2-4-2 record is good for sixth out of eight teams in the Northwest Division. “We conceded possession far too easily and far too often. Credit to the opposition – they worked their socks off and forced us into mistakes, and for long periods in the second half, took the game to us.
“But the character of the team shone through. They didn’t give up on it. They knew it was a game they should win.”
The Mariners face the Victoria Highlanders on the road this Saturday, then return to Bateman Park for a home game against the Washington Crossfire on Wednesday, June 29 (7 p.m. start).