Unwin, Regna help Blitzers plow Snow
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • June 04, 2011 @ 11:35pm
A little familiarity made a massive difference. With two weeks of training and a road win sandwiched between, the FC Buffalo Blitzers blanked the Pocono Snow 2-0 on Saturday night in front of a boisterous 275 fans at Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium.
“We were a lot more organized tonight. We played a lot better as a team, we worked a lot harder…we’re getting used to each other,” FC Buffalo head coach Dan Krzyzanowicz said. “It was much better than the first game.”
University at Buffalo product Mike Unwin, a holdover from the 2010 Blitzer squad, notched the game’s first goal in the 40th minute and played a pivotal role in Stephen Baker’s clincher in the 63rd.
After Pocono’s Joey Scanlon pinged the post twice on headers early on, ever-dangerous FC Buffalo striker Mike Reidy played distributor to put the home side in front. Saving the ball along the right touchline, Reidy kept his balance and swiveled upfield, wrong-footing a defender in the process. Unwin exploded off the ball with a diagonal run as Reidy threaded the ball into space; the UB graduate gently lobbed the ball over the helpless keeper and inside the back post.
Although his name won’t appear on the score-sheet for the second tally, Unwin wanted to talk about Baker’s second half goal that sealed the victory.
“I took the guy [on] and made sure he stopped so I could drag [the ball] past him, and I looked up and had [Zelko] free at the back post, and I played it to him and we [eventually] got the goal, and that effectively finished the game, so I think I’d be happier with the second to be honest,” Unwin admitted.
Blitzer keeper Pat Regna, in action for the first time since he had a Brooklyn Italians’ striker’s teeth removed from his knee, preserved the clean sheet without many nervy moments. Saved by the woodwork twice, Regna pitched in with a daring breakaway challenge on Pocono’s Nick Fernandez in the 50th minute. The Blitzer keeper sprinted off his line to fluster Hernandez; attacker and goalie arrived at the same time, and the ball deflected harmlessly out of bounds.
“Pat was solid tonight, but I thought our back line was much better [than two weeks ago], and I thought they protected him well,” Krzyzanowicz said.
It was a relief for Blitzer fans to see steady Mbwana Johnson back in the lineup. A fearsome presence in the air, Johnson has shed considerable weight since last summer and was his usual composed self on the ball.
Additionally, Josh Faga, FC Buffalo’s Man of the Match, and defensive midfielder Chris Walter were instrumental in snuffing the Snow attack repeatedly with well-timed tackles and triggering the offense with quick, simple passes.
“There’s no tackle I’m not going to win,” the fleet-footed Walter said post-game.
Despite the individual performances, cohesiveness as a unit was the deciding factor.
“Overall, I’m getting a handle for who plays well off of others and what blocks work well together, and I definitely feel that I’m getting more adjusted to them as they adjust to each other,” Krzyzanowicz explained.
Watch the Blitzers continue to jell as they host the undefeated Erie Admirals at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at All-High Stadium. Tickets are $5, but The Situation Room’s witty cheers are priceless. “Snow’s not orange…it’s not yellow either” was today’s best chant.