Corpus Christi FC got the ball rolling on their second-ever USL League Two campaign with a phenomenal performance against AHFC Royals at the Dr. Jack Dugan Stadium, with thanks to an Ollie Wright hat-trick and goals from Noah Wagner and Stefan Lukic.
The Sharks started the game on the evening of May 17, having already witnessed all the other Mid South clubs take to the field, meaning the pressure had certainly mounted on the shoulders of this new squad.
However, the boys got off to a flyer thanks to Ollie Wright’s fortuitous goal, which dinked over the Royals keeper, and Corpus lead 1-0 early on.
Dr. Sebastian Giraldo’s men continued to dictate the speed of the game, with some beautiful link-up play between captain Stanley Smith and Wright causing constant disruption for the Royals’ men.
Despite the pressure and tempo from the Sharks constantly worrying the opposition, the Royals crept back into the game, and eventually, Javier Montez slotted one into the net to bring the game level.
However, it did not take long for the home side to take back their lead. Wright delivered a magnificent ball over the top for striker Stefan Lukic to delicately chip the ball over the Royals’ keeper. It was a remarkable goal from the Serbian, and it was matched by another fantastic piece of trickery from Wright, who dazed and confused the Royals’ defense and tidily slotted the ball home just before the end of the first 45.
Thanks to the brilliance from Wright and the audacity from Lukic, the Sharks finished the half 3-1.
In the second 45, the Royals came out with a vengeance and immediately struck back, thanks to a wonderful looping header from Edgar Alaniz. The game was brought to 3-2 and Giraldo’s men were taken back ever so slightly by the tenacity from the away side, and for the beginning of the second period, the home side struggled to keep the Royals at bay.
With the wind against them late into this Texas evening, the boys had to work extremely hard to keep their lead, and – thanks to a Save of the Season contender – Gerard Roebuck tipped away a fabulous strike from the Royals midfielder from far out.
Once the Australian Roebuck produced this brilliant stop, it seemed to ignite a new flame for the home side. Soon, after more tremendous play and skill, Wright single -handely beat the Royals’ defense and secured his hat-trick with a delicate finish. This capped off an incredible game from the Englishman, who delivered his second consecutive hat-trick.
The Sharks now lead 4-2, and with the fans roaring on the home side, Giraldo’s men had taken back the tempo of this incredible match.
With the lead intact and the fresh legs of Salifu Jatta and his lightning pace troubling the away side, Corpus Christi eased towards the finish line. Jatta himself came close, hitting the woodwork, however, it was number 11 Noah Wagner who finalized proceedings here for the club on opening day, with his smart finish past the keeper which secured all three points.
This victory has put the Sharks top of the Mid South division, level on points with Brazos Valley Cavalry FC, but tipping them to the top spot because of goal difference.
Up next for Corpus Christi is the away trip to Houston FC. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all live updates on the game, post and pre-match words from our lads in Houston.