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Friday, July 22, 2016

As One Season Ends Another Restarts - By Taylor Peyton

I know what you’re thinking. “Taylor, how does a season restart?!” It’ll be explained soon. I can’t promise you won’t still be confused. But it will be explained in due course. But there’s still the matter of one season ending that must be discussed.

On Saturday, July 16th, the Atlanta Silverbacks Men’s team were in Miami to take on Miami United in the South Region semifinals. It was a chippy game, to say the least, and there weren’t many scoring chances until late in the game. Miami broke through for the first time in the 74th minute, and for the second time in the 78th minute.

It was unfortunate that the Silverbacks found themselves in that situation, but they didn’t roll over and play dead. Far from it. Their response was a bit delayed but they their attack showed a lot of urgency towards the end of the game. In the 88th Minute Anthony Tokpah had his shirt pulled heavily in the box which prevented him from taking a shot. He continued to try to win the ball, and he ended up in battle with the keeper. Tokpah had his eye on the ball and attempted to kick it out of the keeper’s reach but then he seemed to make minimal if any contact with him. The keeper then waited for a good two second to go by before falling to the ground. The referee initially pointed to the penalty spot, but then when he noticed the Miami keeper rolling around like he had been shot, he showed Tokpah red. The Miami keeper then stayed on the ground for a long time when the worst the impact from the contact could have done was knock the wind out of him, but even that seems a little bit far-fetched. How bad was his reaction? Watch this GIF to see for yourself.

To add insult to injury, the Silverbacks ended up not getting a penalty kick and instead getting a free kick on the edge of the box. The initial delivery by Polaz was headed away by a defender, but the Silverbacks were able to retain possession when Garcia won a header. The ball found it’s way to Kulov who then flicked it on to a Silverbacks player who inserted it into the net, but unfortunately, the goal wasn’t given because a player was inexplicably ruled offside by the Linesman.

It stung a bit that the Men’s season ended the way it did. But It doesn’t change the fact that it was a great season for them. A stellar regular season with only one loss, and then winning the South Atlantic Conference by beating Carolina Railhawks and Tobacco Road FC in the playoff tournament. All of them put in tons of effort and won a lot of games in either dominating or dramatic fashion (not much in between but that's what made it so fun). It’s been a fun season and even though it’s only a friendly, it would be nice to beat Middlesborough’s U23 team to end the season on a high. Kickoff is 5 pm on Saturday, July 23rd at Silverbacks Park.

Before the Middlesbrough game, the Silverbacks Women will be hosting Lake Norman Eclipse in the Regional finals. Here comes the explanation of how a season restarts. The Women lost to Knoxville Force in the Southeast Conference Semifinals, which at the time looked like the end of their season. However, it seemed that a few teams have dropped out of the playoffs, and with their undefeated regular season the Silverbacks were invited by the WPSL to not only play in the Regional Final but host the game. Therefore, their season has restarted, for lack of a better way to describe it.

It’s a bit of a strange situation. But it’s very exciting that the Women’s team gets to play one more game at Silverbacks Park, with a chance to head to the National Championship Tournament in Columbus if they win. Their opponents Lake Norman Eclipse won the Carolinas Playoff Tournament after finishing second in the regular season standings. The Mooresville, North Carolina-based club finished the regular season with a 4-3-1 record and 13 points, 4 points less than regular season champion Carolina Elite Cobras. They have a few scoring threats on their team, such as forward Paige Trent and midfielder Victoria Bruce. The Silverbacks have been given a second chance at the National Championship, let’s see if they make the most of it. Kickoff at Silverbacks Park will be 2 pm. Let’s hope the last doubleheader at Silverbacks Park this season will result in two wins for the Silverbacks.

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