Barcelona vs. Athletico
Fall was finally in the air on Sunday, and FC Barcelona was definitely feeling crisp as they beat an Athletico squad 2-0 in early morning play. Barcelona center-forward Bryan Gomez broke through 15 minutes in on a nice assist from captain Aidan Rogers, who forced the ball into the attacking zone after a sideline throw-in. Gomez was unstoppable as he sidestepped two defenders and buried a point-blank shot into the right corner of the net.
Athletico fought back with several fine rushes by stars Michael Banks and Dylan Prior, but each was turned aside by goaltender Jim Demsak. Athletico goalie William Carr also had a fine game, teaming with defender Lazlo Horvath to make saves on Rogers and winger Chloe Lombardi to keep the game close.
Midfielder Leah Anthony showed flashes of brilliance, adding to the fine team play for Athletico. Barcelona midfielder Anthony O’Donnell also shined as he unleashed a 20-yard boot to speedy wing Nigel Epps, whose shot flew wide right.
Prior teamed up with Justin Wong for one of Atheltico’s better chances of the day, but defensive captain Michael Shorris raced up for a clearing shot just as Prior was smelling a goal.
Defender Vilde Stokke turned in her finest game for FC Barcelona, picking off several crossing passes from the fleet-footed Banks. This defensive force completed numerous outlet passes to midfield standout Eve Grassfield, who turned in another excellent game. She and Lombardi applied relentless pressure in the second half, tirelessly forcing the ball up the left side and eventually finding striker Hunter Wolf, who bulled his way through a group of defenders for his first tally of the season to put Barcelona up 2-0.
Athletico Striker Sammy Davis refused to fade, breaking through the Barcelona defense for several impressive rushes late in the game. But the fight seemed to have gone out of Athletico, and Davis repeatedly found himself alone as the Barcelona defense closed in around him.
Sevilla vs. Villa Real
Sevilla defeated Villa Real on a beautifully executed centering pass by Kai Glick to a streaking Keunwoo Pak, whose blast found the net. Annie Dobler and Najee Hall also starred for Sevilla. Marcus and Merryl Chan, Mikayla Toffler and Anya Dombrowski were standouts for Villa Real.
Valencia vs. Espanyol
Division frontrunner Valencia banked another win, this time against serious contender Espanyol, as captain Mat Bialosky, Taro Nakagawa and Zach Trachtenberg all hit pay dirt. Alex Hirsch, Elliot Loving and Theo Fandrich all had breakaway opportunities for Espanyol but were turned aside by goalie Jack Friedman. Chun Schlesinger-Fried was outstanding for Espanyol in the midfield.
Real Madrid vs. Mallorca
A suddenly resurgent Real Madrid defeated title contender Mallorca 4-1 as perennial all-star Matt Wheldon returned from the injured list to rejoin co-captains Jake Jiler, Theo Klein and Bayley Arens. Madrid fans also cheered the return of defensive all-star Rozanne Zerres, whose excellent play held Mallorca high-scorer Dario Flores in check to seal the win.
Hibernian vs. Motherwell
After two disappointing losses in the past two weeks against the Rangers and Dundee, the Hibernian team took to the field with great energy to face Motherwell on a cool but sunny day. In the first half, Hibernian’s Gabriel Colon and Lumia Nocita made some excellent offensive moves. Jacob Roter booted one toward Benjamin Beaumont in the Motherwell goal, but Beaumont made a fine save. Motherwell’s Wallis Perry and Lorren Winder were also tough offensively, but Hibernian’s goalie Elias Griffin saw little action, thanks to formidable defense by James Carney, Anthony Miguez and Daphne Tsapalas. Alexander Monticciolo and Eva Vignola did well clearing the ball, and Tyler Adams had great hustle and footwork for Motherwell. Tyler Rohan of Hibernian made a good cross to Margaret Matthews, whose shot on goal was also saved by Beaumont. In return, Nico Le Moal-Polumbo of Motherwell shot, but her attempt was also thwarted by Hibernian’s Griffin. Rohan’s corner kick to Roter resulted in Hibernian’s first goal. Motherwell’s Karyna Lambert was persistent in bringing the ball down, but was unable to connect for a goal. On the other hand, Hibernian’s fast breaks were deflated by the strong presence of Motherwell’s Miles Rimbaud.
In the second half, Motherwell’s Vignola and Lambert were strong defensively, and Yani Porter and Beaumont put a lot of pressure from the offense, with help from Kayla Stanke and Charlotte Pecot. Hibernian’s Nicky Leong continued his consistent perseverance and skill, and Nocito did very well in her maiden voyage as goalie, with help from Romy Macari on defense. Colon, who played well at the beginning of the second on defense, moved to striker and shot on goal, but his first shot was deflected. He was able to recover the rebound, however, and fire the ball over Le Moal-Polumbo’s head. The final score was Hibernian 2, Motherwell 0.