April 23, 2006
Vertigo Makes the Semi-Finals
But dreams of the championship end suddenly in the closing minutes

CARSON CITY - The Davis Vertigo had an excellent weekend at the Comstock Shootout in Carson City, Nevada, although dreams of a championship were dashed in a heartbreaking loss in the semi-finals. Defensive teamwork and some spectacular goals carried the Vertigo through the first day, with a 3-2 win over the Carson Arsenal and a 7-0 victory over the SSC Atomics.

Against the talented Arsenal, it was Steven Orr’s pass into the box that got things started. Luke Hampton was fouled after receiving the pass and Eli Siegel drilled the PK past the diving Arsenal keeper. Arsenal further hurt their cause with an own-goal header off a Hampton corner. Vertigo added a third goal the old-fashioned way in the third quarter, with a nice series of one-touch passing. Joe Murray dropped the ball to Em Medina, who crossed to Hampton in the middle, who dropped to Tyler Darrah at center-mid, who drilled it into the net. The three-goal lead was barely enough to hold back the Arsenal, who scored twice late in the game and threatened to equalize on a corner when time ran out.

Vertigo then enjoyed a 7-0 rout over the SSC Atomics (from Truckee), against a backdrop of rain-streaked skies from nearby thunderstorms. Hampton poked in the first goal, cleaning up a rebound after a shot by Em Medina caught the inside of the near post. Matthew Austin emerged from his goal slumber with two in the game, and narrowly missed a hat trick when his header hit the post. Siegel also had two goals, including a header off a Hampton corner. Darrah also converted on a corner by Danny Pugh, sliding to poke the ball past the Atomic keeper. This marked Vertigo’s third corner kick goal of the day. Hayden Smith, who played flawless sweeper throughout the tournament, pushed up to forward and took advantage of a beautiful thru-pass from Ben Crow for Vertigo’s final goal of the game.

This set the stage for an intense match-up against the Pleasant Hill Ballistic in the semi-finals. Vertigo was in for a rude early morning awakening when the Ballistic scored in the opening minute. Constantly on the defensive, Vertigo caught a break when Austin broke free on a counter-attack, only to be fouled hard in the box. Hampton converted on the PK to tie the game. Austin then added a goal of his own, threading a shot from the top of the box between the bar and the keeper’s hands to give Vertigo a rather fortunate 2-1 halftime lead. While the Vertigo defense, anchored by Smith and Anthony Berardi, was excellent throughout the second half, Pleasant Hill eventually equalized, converting on a PK of their own. Countering the intensity of the Ballistic and fueled by the aggressive play of Connor Anderson, Vertigo finally began to control the run-of-play midway through the second half, threatening to break the 2-2 tie several times late in the game. Alas, shots by Murray, Austin, Crow, and several by Siegel failed to find the net. Vertigo hopes ended abruptly when Pleasant Hill converted on a counter-attack in the 58th minute to win the game 3-2. The play began on a controversial throw-in call, and ended when the Ballistic employed a quick re-start on a direct kick and caught the Vertigo defense, trying to set up an offside trap, unprepared.

Vertigo will head to Pleasant Hill next. They are guaranteed another chance at the Ballistic in the Davis World Cup, where they are both seeded in the same bracket. Vertigo was not without a champion in Carson City, however, as Danny Pugh took first place in the Goalie Wars competition.