2015 Winter II Season Recap

Martin Benitez looks to play a free kick with plenty of options.  Alec Drogemeier, Nico Gutierrez, Brock Waters and Colin Attarian stand ready.

FULL THROTTLE:  UNITED STICKS 14 ON SYRUP GANG
The Syrup Gang and United came into Friday night’s season finale side by side in the standings as it had been for most of the season.  Taylor Parizo took just under a minute to equal the total number of goals the Syrup Gang would end up with on the night.  In the first minute of the game Parizo drilled two shots, the first from Ethan Sheflin and the second a cross from Brock Waters, to put United up, 2-0.   The goals, Taylor’s first two of the season, paced United to the team’s most dominant performance of the season.  Moments later, still on the first shift, Waters found Stephen Pratt for a goal and a 3-0 lead.

United came to NetSports Friday night hoping for a shot at fourth place in the 11-team league.   The Spartans fell to the Glory Goals earlier in the night, which meant the highest United could finish was fifth.  United had other goals on the night:  finish playing strong, finish with a winning record and take an outside shot at making up the -13 goal differential the team faced.  By six minutes into the game it was clear that the team was going to try to make up the goals.  A free kick was awarded for United.  Martin Benitez set it up and found a breaking Colin Attarian who drilled the goal and then collided with the goalie.  Both players were OK.  Moments later Drogemeier found Taj Salman for a goal.  And before the shift was over, Drogemeier crossed for Attarian, who put in his second on the night.  United went in halftime up, 6-0.

Ethan Sheflin pokes the ball away from a Syrup Gang attacker along the boards.

The second half produced more of the same.  Attarian converted his first hat trick of the season when he scored off of another Drogemeier pass.  Benitez scored off of an Attarian pass.  The Syrup Gang finally broke the shutout, getting one goal by Brett Gault, who made several strong saves throughout the game, but United picked up the scoring immediately after.  Nico Gutierrez fed Ethan Sheflin for a goal.  Parizo became the second United player on the night to score a hat trick when he converted a goal from an odd angle that beat the Syrup goalie.  Brock Waters scored the first of a pair of goals when Stephen Pratt crossed the ball for an open net.  Pratt converted moments later off of an Attarian pass.  Salman drilled a ball from just across midfield for a goal, and then set up Waters, and United’s final goal of the night.

United put together this performance while missing most of the defense, the team’s goalie and the season’s leading assister.  Sam Sanger, Chris Brown, Gabe Amey and RJ Reyes were all unavailable.  But there were other important things taking place on the field.  United had two sets of brothers playing together on the same team when both Nico Gutierrez and Zach Gault returned to

Lightning Strikes:  United reformed the Lightning Line for the first time since 2010.

the lineup.  Nico’s brother Carlos has been as defensive stalwart all season for United.  Zach and Brett are brothers as well.  It marked the first time that United had brothers playing on the team since

Nico Gutierrez, Zach Gault, Colin Attarian and Martin Benitez share a moment after the game.  United defeated the Syrup Gang 14-2.

the team had a set triplets playing in 2003.  The return of Zach and Nico also meant the chance to reunite United’s Lightning Line of Nico, Zach and Colin for the first time since 2010.  The trio has combined for, and this took a lot of looking through the archives, 139 of United’s approximately 214 all-time goals, including a season where both Colin and Zach each outscored the aggregate total of all of United’s opponents.  Electricity was in the air tonight, too, as a member Lightning Line was involved in seven of United’s 14 goals on the against the Syrup Gang.   Attarian, Gault and Gutierrez joined long-time teammates Benitez and Sheflin for the final shift of the season.

United finishes the season 5-3.

Team Effort:

UNITED WINS BY FORFEIT; LOSES SCRIMMAGE
Last year United faced the Black Widows when the Black Widows filled in for another team.  The teams combined for 19 goals that night.  Friday night the Black Widows didn’t have a coach and a United parent stepped in.  The teams combined for 18 goals Friday in what ultimately will be a 1-0 United win on a forfeit.
United was down most of the defensive rotation as Chris Brown and Sam Sanger were absent.  Taylor Parizo and Stephen Pratt stepped in admirably for the missing defenders and Stephen Pratt started the United scoring when he took a pass from Gabe Amey and put it in the net.  Later Amey fed  Alec Drogemeier for Alec’s first goal since February 20.  Taj Salman scored off of a Colin Attarian wall pass before Amey fed Pratt for his second goal.  Ethan Sheflin was again a rock on defense, but he also stepped up to score off of a Brock Waters pass.  Pratt and Amey teamed up again for Stephen’s hat trick.  Gabe finished off the scoring when he converted a Colin Attarian cross.
United moves to 4-3 on the season and closes with the Syrup Gang next Friday.

Carlos Gutierrez controls the  ball as Martin Benetiz moves up field.

PUT UP AND SHUT UP:  UNITED SLICES THROUGH PINEAPPLES FOR VICTORY
United faced a physical and vocal Diced Pineapples team and short-handed and, after trading goals, united pulled away, winning 8-4.  United was down goalie RJ Reyes, defender Chris Brown and midfielders Gabe Amey and Stephen Pratt, but brought back Martin Benetiz, who stepped in for goal, and long-time players Nico Gutierrez and Zach Gault cheered from the bench.

It was another long-time United player who started the scoring.  Ethan Sheflin stepped up and took a free kick from the right side of the field and scored.  The Pineapples scored the next two, but really had no answer for Sheflin.  Brock Waters crossed to Sheflin, who bodied through the defender for United to tie it.  Sheflin then crossed the ball to Taj Salman and United led 3-2 at the half.

The second half saw Sheflin get his hat trick, scoring off of a Taylor Parizo pass.  But the Pineapples came back, scoring the next two to tie the game.  Salman put United back ahead when Colin Attarian found him on the other side of the goal.  Waters scored his first goal of the season when Benetiz sent the ball across the field.  Brock scored again off of a Sheflin pass.  Salman scored his hat trick when Attarian crossed the ball to him.

United’s defense was huge again.  Without subs for the defenders, the unit, led by Sheflin, Carlos Gutierrez, Sam Sanger and Martin Benitez, played the entire match.  Sam Sanger and Martin Benitez shared net duty.

United has been improving each week and, while the Pineapples were big and physical, and up to antics, it was the first time all season where United was able to string passes together like in season’s past.  United is back at 500 (3-3) and faces the Black Widows, a team that beat United 10-9 last year in their only other meeting, next week.

United's defense was rock-solid against the Preston Mom's Fan Club.  Missed opportunities on the offensive side did in United, 8-4.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES SEAL UNITED AGAINST FIRST PLACE PRESTON
United changed formation and changed its energy, playing well but ultimately falling to first place Preston Mom’s Fan Club, 8-4.  United switched from a 2-2-1 to a 3-2 and played even with Preston.  Alec Drogemeier took a shot that bounced off of the top of the net and fell directly down.  Ethan Sheflin missed from close range and United had a three on none and couldn’t convert.  Any of those would have put the team up.  On the other end of the field, Sheflin, Sam Sanger, Chris Brown and Carlos Gutierrez were strong in front of RJ Reyes, who made several key saves.

Ultimately Preston kept chipping away and scored three before United answered.  Drogemeier scored off of a Gabe Amey pass.  Then Stephen Pratt converted off of an Ethan Sheflin pass.  Both Sheflin and Colin Attarian had scoring opportunities in the next few minutes to potentially tie the game but could not convert, and Preston went on a power play.  United almost killed the power play but, with three seconds remaining, Preston scored, to make it 4-2.  Moments later Drogemeier fed Amey to cut the lead to one, but united had two miscues and Preston converted, pushing the lead to 7-3.

The remaining 10 minutes produced end-to-end action.  Taylor Parizo stole a pass and sent a shot wide.  United newcomer Taj Salman displayed fancy footwork and helped control the midfield.  The defense continued to play well and so did Reyes, who stopped several Preston attempts.  The final two goal came in the final minutes.  Preston scored to make it 8-3 and Gabe Amey scored when he dribbled around the Preston keeper in the final five seconds of the game.

United drops to 2-3 on the season and faces Diced Pineapples (2-3-1) on Friday.

UNITED DOWNS SPARTANS IN CLOSE GAME
United scored three goals in the first half, and scored the first in the second, and then held on to beat the CASL Spartans, 4-3, Friday night.

Early on, it was the United defense that held strong.  Ethan Sheflin, Carlos Gutierrez and Sam Sanger controlled the

United's Sam Sanger takes the ball from a CASL Spartan player during Friday's 4-3 victory.

defensive third of the field in front of United goalie RJ Reyes, and together the unit went 79 minutes without surrendering a goal.  Meanwhile, Gabe Abey and Alec Drogemeier took charge on the offense, each scoring a pair of goals to give United a 4-0 lead.  Ethan Sheflin and Colin Attarian assisted on Amey’s, while Amey tallied the assists on Drogemeier’s.  Stephen Pratt, Taylor Parizo and Brock Waters also peppered the Spartan net.

While the first half went United’s way, in the second half the Spartans came out firing and creating chances around the United net.  The chaos resulted in two own goals and put United on its heels, but the team held on for the victory.  The win improves United to 29-4 all-time against teams from the Capital Area Soccer League.  United faces the unbeaten eLemonators next Friday.

BOUNCE BACK:  UNITED REBOUNDS FROM ONE OF TEAMS WORST LOSSES WITH STRONG PERFORMANCE AGAINST BRAVEHEARTS
United got its first win of the season Friday night when it downed the CASL Bravehearts 1-0 in a defensive battle.  United was down several players but did get Chris Brown back, who with Carlos Gutierrez, controlled the defense.  Gabe Amey, Colin Attarian and Stephen Pratt ran the midfield while Alex Drogemeier and Taylor Parizo played up front while RJ Reyes recorded his first shutout in net for United.
The teams were evenly matched and went into halftime tied despite multiple chances at each end.  In the second half, Pratt got the ball to Amey in front of the net, who flicked it to Drogemeier for the game-winning goal.
United moves to 3-0 lifetime against the Bravehearts.  The teams played in the Winter II, 2012 and Winter II, 2014 seasons.  United is in a group of four teams tied in second place with three points, but is last of those teams due to goal differential.  United faces the CASL Spartans on Friday.

MEET THE TEAM – UNITED RETURNS LOTS OF FAMILIAR FACES
United returns its top two scorers and top three assisters for the Winter II, 2015 season.  Gabe Amey led all scorers with nine goals.  Brock Waters scored eight and Alec Drogemeier scored seven.  Colin Attarian led all assisters with six.  Stephen Pratt and Gabe Amey followed with five each.

Amey, Waters and Drogemeier will have help this season.  United adds Carlos Gutierrez, Nico’s Brother, and Taylor Parizo to the offense.  The defense remains strong.  Led by long-time United Players Ethan Sheflin, Sam Sanger and Chris Brown, United adds Brendan Boyd back to the mix.  Brendan has played various seasons for United since 2010.

United will have a new face in goal.  RJ Reyes joins the team for his first season and will anchor net.  The season starts this Friday.

SCHEDULE PREVIEW – WINTER II 2015
United plays a schedule against a lot of new opponents and some familiar faces in this year’s indoor season.  Of the eight opponents, United has only faced off against two.  United is unbeaten against the CASL Bravehearts.  The two teams first met on February 2, 2012, when United won, 12-2, en route to a Winter II finalist position.  The teams met again during the Winter II 2014 season.  That game was much closer.  United came out ahead, 5-3, for the team’s first win of the season.

United faced the Black Widows in the Winter II, 2014 season and, in spite of scoring nine goals, still came up short.  The Black Widows were a fill-in team for Alpha Q, which forfeited.  The teams combined for 19 goals, but it was the Black Widows which scored the game-winner with 30 seconds to go.

IT'S TIME!  THE 2015 UNITED DEBUTS ON FRIDAY NIGHT!

JUST LE TOUX OF THEM - Sebastien Le Toux of the Philadelphia Union and United's Colin Attarian stop for a picture on Saturday.  Le Toux scored the lone goal in the Union's opening day victory over the New England Revolution and was named Man of the Match moments before.  Attarian is in Philadelphia for training and heads back to PPL Park on Sunday.

LE TOUX MIDFIELDERS, ONE HAT – Sebastien Le Toux of the Philadelphia Union and United’s Colin Attarian stop for a picture on Saturday. Le Toux scored the lone goal in the Union’s opening day victory over the New England Revolution and was named Man of the Match moments before. Attarian is in Philadelphia for training and heads back to PPL Park on Sunday.

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