The Bellingham United Football Club Hammers fell 5-1 in their season opener to South Sound Football Club in front of around 400 supporters on Sunday, April 26.
The Hammers were outmatched in almost every aspect of the game in the first half. Even with much improved defense, their second half rally fell far short.
Bellingham United head coach Lance Calloway was not pleased with his team’s performance overall.
“Our outside defending was very poor and it cost us,” Calloway said. “We shouldn’t have allowed some of those goals that took place in the first place.”
South Sound FC player Tyler John scored their first goal within six minutes of the match beginning. Danny Minniti then followed up with back-to-back goals in the 26th and 32nd minutes.
Only two minutes later, South Sound’s Kellan Brown scored again, soon to be followed by another goal by John.
United made some personnel changes at the half, subbing Riley Liddle in at goalie. This proved to be a move that paid off, as United allowed no goals in the second period of play.
Five minutes into the second half, Bellingham United had a chance to score, but Robbie Tice’s shot went wide right. The Hammers finally got on the board in the 68th minute on a goal by Mo Marenah, but that proved to be the only offense United would manage for the day. Marenah scored on a well-placed cross from Nick Cashmere.
Fans of United did not seem to be phased by the scoreboard, even in the waning minutes of the game. Cheering supporters banged drums and sang taunts at South Sound, but the environment remained friendly and the teams greeted each other warmly after the final whistle.
Even after the tough loss, Calloway does not think this game will define his teams season.
“Hell yeah I’m optimistic on the season,” Calloway said. “This is only one game and there have been situations last year where a team got blown out and won the next battle.”
United’s Liddle remained upbeat after the game, but said that improvements must be made if they want to come up with a win next week. “Going forward I’m hoping that we can battle harder in the first half and not come out flat,” Liddle said.
Bellingham United’s “Hammer of the Match” award went to defender Nolan Smith.
Sunday’s game marks the start of the second season for the Evergreen Premier League, said Marc Ronney, general manager of Bellingham United. The Evergreen Premier League is open to college and post-college age players and players maintain amateur status, meaning that they are not paid.
“The goal is to give kids that want to continue to play at a high level an arena to play in,” Ronney said. “It’s a fun, local team to come support.”