Loudoun United, Loudoun’s own professional football team, played in front of the home crowd for the first time Friday, Aug 9, drawing against Charlottesville Independence.
Head Coach Ryan Martin said the opening night crowd was in part to thank for the team’s endurance.
Three times, the visiting team took the lead, and each time, the home team put a point on the board to equalize, finishing 3-3 after tying up the game for the third time at 79-minute mark. Defender Harry Hawkins scored both his first goal for Loudoun United and the first-ever Loudoun United goal at Segra Field, the teams’ home at Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park near Leesburg. Anotonio Bustamante scored his second career United Soccer League goal to tie the game in the 65th minute, and Carlos Alvarez scored his first goal for Loudoun United to tie the game.
“I think the biggest takeaway is the resiliency of the guys to come back and get a late equalizer,” said head coach Ryan Martin after the game.
And he said the team arrived at the stadium at 5 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff to find the tailgating, grilling and music already well underway.
PHOTOS BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM/LOUDOUN NOW
“That was just something that this group hasn’t had yet, and just to have it here, have it be home in Loudoun, was just an incredible night,” Martin said. “The guys were beyond excited to kick off, and I had to kind of calm them down a little, to be honest.”
The players on the field felt the excitement in the stands, too, he said.
“For us, when we walked out there to our fans in Loudoun, and the guys were just excited, that’s where you saw the resiliency at the end,” Martin said. “People always say ‘the twelfth man,’ and how fans can help—it’s a situation like that where they can almost will you to equalize.”
As Loudoun United continues to improve on its 5-9-5 record in its inaugural season, Martin said the team is “getting better every day” and “focusing on the process and not the results.”
“If everybody does their job, if everybody continues to focus on what the task at hand is, the results will come,” Martin said.
Hawkins, who scored the team’s first-ever home goal, said there was “a great atmosphere” at the game.
“As a defender I’m going to look at it slightly disappointed because of the three goals, all of which I think definitely could have been prevented, but credit to the boys we were down a goal three times, and we came back and pulled something out of the game,” Hawkins said.
Loudoun United also controlled the ball for almost two-thirds of the game, taking 11 shots on goal and keeper Callie Brown, a Loudoun County High School grad, recording 8 saves, including this “must-see moment in extra time.
The team is just past the halfway mark its first season, only assembling shortly before the season began at a stadium that was ready only a year after county supervisors announced they had been working in secret on a deal to bring the team to Loudoun. The 5,000-seat stadium is the first part of a $15 million sports complex that will also include the headquarters and training center for Major League Soccer franchise D.C. United.