After three results within six days, a revitalized Wilmington Hammerheads FC have enjoyed the last few days of rest leading into training with a big road match ahead against United Soccer League Eastern Conference leader, Louisville City FC, on Saturday, June 11.
The Hammerheads made some good strides in the attacking third over the past week with their quick starts. They netted two goals in five minutes in a 2-1 victory against Miami FC in the third round match of the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup one week ago. Then on Friday, Wilmington grabbed a 2-0 advantage over the opening 14 minutes against Harrisburg City. Ashani Fairclough cleaned up with a close-range volley shortly after Mael Corboz’s corner kick from the right. Austin Martz continued his strong play on the flank and set up Kyle Parker’s first tally of the match with a 14th-minute score. Parker dribbled in from the right and carefully placed his shot inside the lower left of the frame.
Parker eventually closed the deal with a stoppage-time winner against Harrisburg City as the Hammerheads’ offense has perhaps turned a corner after sustaining a five-game stretch from April 22-May 21, which included only two scores.
For his efforts, Parker was voted the USL Player of the Week for the 11th week of the 2016 season. He received 64 percent of the poll conducted by a national panel of independent media representing every USL market.
“We’ve got confidence at the moment from the results on the road over the past week,” said Wilmington Hammerheads FC Coach Mark Briggs. “We spoke at halftime against Harrisburg bout keeping that winning mentality. When you’re in a run like we are at the moment, things seem to bounce for you. We’ve turned a corner and the players have turned a corner themselves. This is all them. This is all their hard work, their determination, and their desire to win a game of football.”
The latest surge by Wilmington has given the home side a 13-11 goal for/against average. Bruno Perone remains the team leader with four tallies, while Fairclough, Parker and Matthew Barnes-Homer each have two scores apiece. Mael Corboz remains the dominant figure on set pieces, with three assists.
John Smits has also played every minute of every USL match this season for Wilmington. The Hammerheads’ goalkeeper has 34 saves in 11 appearances, with a .756 save percentage.
Wilmington Hammerheads FC also announced the addition of defender Michael Soboff for the remainder of their 20th anniversary season on Wednesday.
Soboff graduated from NCAA Division III Brandeis University in 2015 and most recently played with Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan FC of the Israeli Liga Alef South Division.
U.S. Soccer also unveiled the fourth round pairings for the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The fourth round marks the opening stage of the tournament for the 17 Major League Soccer (Division I) clubs, joining the 15 winners from the tournament’s third round.
Following their match at Louisville this weekend, Wilmington Hammerheads FC travels to Sandy, Utah for a date with Real Salt Lake on June 14.