PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL – Boca Raton FC squared off against Palm Beach United on Wednesday night, looking to rebound from a tough loss in Jacksonville. Unfortunately, Boca Raton were unable to turn things around, falling 4-1.
Boca Raton started the game strongly, enjoying the majority of possession and working the ball into the final third. Just five minutes into the game, midfielder Alec McKinley headed home from a corner taken by Carlos Meneses, giving the Boys in Blue an early lead.
After getting in front, Boca Raton FC looked likely to add to their lead, controlling the flow of the game and playing the ball around with precision. However, in a span of just three minutes, McKinley picked up two yellow cards and was sent off, reducing Boca Raton to 10 men.
Despite being a man down, Boca Raton remained sharp and was well organized, not allowing Palm Beach to capitalize on their man advantage. In fact, Palm Beach United did not record their first shot until the 43rd minute. The two sides went into the break with the score at 0-1, with the only difference being Alec McKinley’s early goal.
In an effort to strengthen the defense and prevent the short-handed team from growing tired, head coach Jim Rooney made three halftime substitutions. Eusebio replaced Giovanni Amoroso, Gabriel Diniz came on for Alex Norton, and Austin Lukasik took the place of Alec-Michael Petrizzi.
A few minutes into the second half, the momentum clearly shifted in Palm Beach United’s favor. Just seven minutes after the break, a Palm Beach player was brought down in the penalty area during a corner kick, prompting the referee to award a penalty to the hosts. Sebastian Andreassen converted from the spot to even the score at 1-1.
One of Boca Raton FC’s biggest faults this season has been conceding penalties. In eight NPSL games, the Boys in Blue have conceded six penalties, with spot kicks accounting for 25% (6/24) of all opposition goals.
Palm Beach United continued to apply pressure and claimed the lead in the 67th minute as Markus Smarzoch cut inside and slotted a right-footed shot inside the near post.
The hosts were in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the game after overturning Boca Raton FC’s early lead. Palm Beach United scored twice in the final 30 minutes to win by a score of 4-1.
Defender Breno Ertty identified some of Boca Raton’s recent shortcomings and explained how the Boys in Blue can get back on track: “We need to remain composed and avoid losing focus during the game. I think we lost focus halfway through the game, which leaves room for mistakes, like conceding penalties.”
Head coach Jim Rooney explained the impact of such an early sending-off: “It changes everything. We were winning 1-0, we were keeping possession, and we looked really good. Then, all of a sudden, we have to adjust. It changes things up almost right from the start; we tried to battle, but it was just too much.”
On Saturday, Boca Raton FC will travel to the west coast to take on Naples United FC at Lely High School. The Boys in Blue will look to end their four-game road trip with a win, which would see Boca Raton achieve a higher point total than last season, with three games yet to be played.
Photo by: Heather Lukasik