Temperatures reached the 90s Wednesday afternoon as the Brighton boys’ soccer team faced off against Snowden in a scorcher at White Stadium.
Behind the foot of midfielder Michale Wineh -- who had a hat trick -- Brighton (1-0) prevailed, 5-1, over a gassed Snowden squad (0-1).
This kickoff to Wineh’s senior season was anything but ordinary: This was his first game as a Bengal, and for that matter his first game in America.
“It was a little difficult today, but I’m happy.” Wineh said. “This is my first game I’ve played that’s not in Ethiopia, so I wanted to do the best I could. And my teammates made some great passes to me.”
Eleven minutes into the game, Snowden drew first blood when freshman Jean Ramsey darted through the defense and scored following a great pass from sophomore forward Anthony Senalin.
The Brighton players looked as if the heat was getting to them. But following a timeout and a pep talk from coach Hussein Issa, it was all Bengals.
“In the beginning of the game, we were panicking,” Issa said. “And it was tough day to start [the season] with the heat. But when we settled down, we started to play together as a team and that’s when we did well.”
Brighton’s first goal came from midfielder Jonathan Morancie on an assist from Erik Solis. Nine minutes later, Wineh’s first strike came on an unassisted breakaway during the 38th minute, giving the Bengals a 2-1 lead entering the half.
The momentum had swung Brighton’s way, and would remain there for the rest of the game.
Senior forward Lizandro Noguera took off where his Bengals took off early in the second half with a nifty strike that fooled Snowden goalie Ibrahim Bah.
With Brighton having taken a 3-1 lead, Wineh’s last two goals came within three minutes of each other to secure the victory.
“Today was special because it was my country's New Year, too,” said a smiling Wineh, referring to Ethiopia. “I’m definitely happy with today’s win.”
Snowden coach Joao Barros commended his team’s hard work but cited fatigue as a problem for his young players.
“The heat was tough," he said. "We definitely have to work on conditioning. But we’re going to continue to practice and work hard for next week, where we’ll have at least five or six players playing who weren’t eligible today.”
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