Wilmington Hammerheads FC open season with result in Orlando

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Wilmington Hammerheads FC began its 20th anniversary season on a high note Saturday night as the Wilmington side defeated Orlando City B 2-1 at Eastern Florida State College’s Titan Soccer Complex in Melbourne, Fla.

Despite a lengthy rain delay during the contest, the Hammerheads took advantage of their chances to pick up three points in the USL standings. Orlando City outshot Wilmington 11-8 in the match.

The match featured the coaching debut of Hammerheads Head Coach Mark Briggs.

Wilmington opens its home schedule on Friday, April 1. Photo courtesy- Wilmington Hammerheads FC.
Wilmington opens its home schedule on Friday, April 1. Photo courtesy- Wilmington Hammerheads FC.

Both sides shared possession and the attacking chances during the first half. Mikey Ambrose and Pierre DaSilva created most of the opportunities for Orlando in the first 45 minutes, including the home side’s best chance right before the break. DaSilva, the 17-year-old winger, connected with Ambrose down the left flank with a clever lofted pass, and the fullback found 2016 Major League SuperDraft seventh overall selection Richie Laryea at the edge of the box, but his shot was deflected inches off the far post.

Wilmington opened the scoring early in the second half from a corner kick, when defender Ashani Fairclough’s diving header found the back of the net in the 46th minute of play. After being traded by Wilmington last season, Fairclough rejoined the club after spending one  year with Seattle Sounders FC 2. He played the 2014 season in the Port City.

However, Orlando responded quickly, leveling the fixture 10 minutes later. Midfielder Andrew Ribeiro powered a right-footed strike past the goalkeeper after a cleared ball stayed lurking at the edge of the box.

The Hammerheads regained the lead in the 65th minute and scored the final goal of the match when Logan Miller’s shot from distance found the back of the net.

Wilmington Hammerheads FC gets back on the pitch for its home opener against Richmond Kickers on Friday, April 1.