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Before more than 11,000 fans, Hartford Athletic battle to tie in first home game

Hartford’s Mac Steeves races onto the ball and gets it past Charlotte goalie Curtis Anderson in Saturday night’s USL game in East Hartford (Photo courtesy Hartford Athletic)

EAST HARTFORD, May 5 – The Hartford Athletic pro soccer team finally made their way back to Connecticut on Saturday night. The Athletic played their first-ever United Soccer League home game against the Charlotte Independence and battled to a 1-1 tie at Rentschler Field before an announced crowd of 11,346 fans.

Hartford technically still isn’t home yet. Renovations continue at their permanent home of Dillon Stadium but the Athletic were thrilled to be back in Connecticut after a winless eight-game road trip to begin their first season in the USL, a Division II league that is one step below Major League Soccer.

The Athletic are Connecticut’s first Division II level team since the Connecticut Wolves played five seasons in the old A League from 1997-2001 out of Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in New Britain.

Hartford earned their first points of the season with the tie. The Athletic have struggled to score in their first eight games, putting just four goals in the net while giving up a league-high 22 goals.

Charlotte (1-5-3) took an early 1-0 lead in the third minute when Dominic Oduro got in back of the Hartford defense and dropped a ball off for the trailing Adoulie Mansally, who scored in just the third minute of the game.

But Hartford answered quickly. Raymond Lee played a beautiful ball down into the penalty box and Hartford’s Mac Steeves chipped the ball over on-rushing Charlotte goalie Curtis Anderson to tie the game with 10 minutes gone.

Steeves, a 6-foot-4 forward from Needham, Mass., played four years at Providence College scoring 35 goals. It was Steeves’ first goal in 11 USL contests. He played three games with Houston affiliate Rio Grande Valley a year ago.

Hartford had a few changes in the second half but Anderson, who was named USL goalie of the week for his excellent play a week ago, was up to the task. Hartford’s Alex Dixon had a great shot from outside the box but Anderson made a great diving save.

Minutes later, Steeves had another outstanding scoring opportunity that Anderson just tipped over the cross bar. Anderson finished with two saves.

Hartford returns to Rentschler Field on Friday night when they host Memphis 901 at 7 p.m.

More than 11,000 fans were in the stands for the home opener for the USL’s Hartford Athletic Saturday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. (Photo courtesy Hartford Athletic)

Hartford 1, Charlotte 1
At East Hartford
Charlotte (1-5-3)         1  0  — 1
Hartford (0-8-1)          1  0  — 1
Goals:
C: Abdoulie Mansally 3 (Dominic Oduro); H: Mac Steeves 12 (Raymond Lee); Shots: Hartford, 11-8; Shots on target: Hartford, 3-1; Corner kicks: Hartford, 5-4; Fouls: Charlotte, 12-6; Saves: Jacob Lissek (H) 0, Curtis Anderson (C) 2
Hartford — Jacob Lissek; Raymond Lee, Sem de Wit, Philip Rasmussen, Harry Swartz (Giuseppe Gentile 77′); Sebastian Dalgaard, Collin Martin, Nicky Downs, Jonny Brown; Mac Steeves (Jose Angulo 64′), Alex Dixon (Wojciech Wojcik 80′)
Charlotte — Curtis Anderson; Hugh Roberts, Steven Thicot, Andrew Gutman, Joel Johnson; Michael Maria, Alex Martinez (Enzo Martinez 73′), Afrim Taku; Dominic Oduro, Jorge Herrera, Abdoulie Mansally (Zyen Jones, 76′).

 

USL Eastern Conference W-L-T   Pts
New York Red Bulls II 6-1-1 19
Saint Louis FC 5-1-2 17
Tampa Bay Rowdies 4-0-5 17
North Carolina FC 4-1-3 15
Charleston Battery 4-1-3 15
Indy Eleven 4-2-2 14
Nashville SC 4-2-2 14
Louisville City FC 4-3-1 13
Birmingham Legion 3-3-2 11
Bethlehem Steel 3-4-2 11
Pittsburgh RIverhounds 2-1-5 11
Ottawa Fury 3-2-1 10
Atlanta United II 3-5-1 10
Loudoun United 1-3-3 6
Memphis 901 1-6-3 6
Charlotte Independence 1-5-3 6
Swope Park Rangers 0-4-2 2
Hartford Athletic 0-8-1 1

Three points for a win, one point for a tie. Top 10 teams earn a berth in the USL playoffs.

Upcoming matches
Friday, May 10: Memphis at Hartford (Renthschler Field), 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 19: at Louden United (Audi Field, Washington, D.C.), 2 p.m.

Since 2009, the Collinsville Press has been providing award-winning coverage of sports and news in the Farmington Valley and across Connecticut.

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