The Bradenton Academics ended a turbulent season with a stellar performance against the Nashville Metros, winning 6-0 led by Taylor Morgan's goal and two assists. Conditions were messy but the wet field did not keep the Academics from controlling the ball, and the game, from the start.
Though the midfield possessed the ball well from the opening minutes, they faced short-lived troubles connecting up front. But the Academics quickly found ways to penetrate up top finding the net in the 25th minute for the first goal of the night: a Morgan to Mark McGee connection that ended up just inside the lower near post. The second goal came in the 29th minute after the team found a beautiful rhythm, ending with a Gerard Barbero left-footed, near-post volley from a Morgan cross.
Nashville's only offense came in the form of counterattacks that were quickly interrupted but a stingy defense. After the Academics second goal of the night, the Metros possessed the ball in brief stints but the Academics defense continued to frustrate the Metros forwards. Bradenton found themselves up 2-0 at the half, a score that still hardly spoke for the dominating performance.
Post half-time, it was more of the same, with the Academics controlling the game through the defense and midfield, connecting up top just minutes in. Their first goal of the second half came when McGee settled a cross for a Morgan low shot to the post. It was all Academics from there as Nashville failed to muster up any sort of offense aside from rare and short-lived midfield control during counter-attacks.
Bradenton continued the display of impressive ball movement, possession, and penetration, as the crowd witnessed a Luis Calzadilla goal from a Leo Nogueira through ball he slipped behind the defense; a Taureen Manders to Leo goal in which Leo battled the keeper for the final touch; and a back post Barbero header off a Tommy MCabe corner kick in the 88th minute for a final score of 6-0.
Larry "LJ" Jackson and Shawn Doyle split time in the goal with LJ tallying the Academic's only save of the night. The team ended with 15 shots compared to Nashville's one.
Earlier in July, the Academics traveled to Nashville to battle the Metros to a 0-0 draw, despite a dominating offensive effort. This time around, Bradenton was able to find the goal six times. The win was impressive but the Academics ended the season at 5-5-4 with no advancement to the playoffs.
"It speaks for the success of our Academy teams which we normally draw from. But since they are ending their seasons so late, we cannot sign them to this team, taking a big bite out of our player pool. We ended up with a very average record. The four ties could easily have been four wins as well as one of our losses. We could have easily been in first place. I hope it was a good experience for kids but they have a lot of work ahead of them on the way to becoming. Hopefully IMG can be a part of that."