Albion Pros Defeat North County Battalion in First San Diego Derby
The first San Diego Derby of the season lived up to the hype as Albion SC Pros topped North County Battalion in week three of the NPSL season. NC Battalion struck first to give the home side the lead but were unable to maintain the advantage as Albion Pros leveled the score just before the break and added two more goals in the second half of play.
The match was highlighted as NPSL National Game of the Week welcoming over 1,000 fans as the battle for the top spot of the league took place. The derby match was full of energy and support as NC Battalion fans cheered on the home side along with Albion Pros’ supporter group The Deep End traveling and raising the intense atmosphere. San Diego is a soccer city and the fans love a rivalry.
Chants from The Deep End started off the match with “We are San Diego, We Are Albion” and “There is nothing to do in North County”. NC Battalion supporters responded with “We own our homes, we are your landlords” and “What is an Albion”. Even reflecting on this — it clearly shows a passion for soccer as as well as humor.
As the match kicked off, NC Battalion pressured high looking to catch an Albion mistake early. Albion struggled giving the ball away as NC Battalion saw its first chance when left midfielder Esteban Reyes sent a cross in that was handled by Albion goalkeeper Jean Antoine. In the 10th minute, Reyes collected the ball at the top of the box and finished a curling shot to beat Antoine. NC Battalion supporters erupted with “It only took ten minutes” as Antoine’s shutout streak ended at 190 minutes.
NC Battalion kept the pressure on missing wide and over the bar as they looked to double its advantage. In the 30th minute, Honduran centerback Ricky McKenzie came off with a strained groin having Kainoa Owens replace him. Owens quickly went in for a hard foul on the sideline receiving a yellow card as the momentum began to shift for Albion.
A few minutes later, Felipe Liborio put in a cross that NC Battalion goalkeeper mishandled, dropping the ball to Tre Hayes who fired in a shot but was denied by center back Justin Picou who took the ball to the face to keep the score level.
In the 42nd minute, Albion equalized as Liborio stole the ball from right back Jose Merlo and played Douglas Andrade who passed the ball to David Luquen. Luquen dribbled through NC Battalion’s defense and made a hard left cut catching the keeper off guard to finish the ball with ease. The match went into the break level at 1-1.
Albion came out in the second half looking to keep the pressure up linking passes and aiming to capitalize on the counterattack. In the 59th minute, NC Battalion goalkeeper mistakenly passed the ball directly to Hayes as they swung the ball along the backline. Hayes finished the open chance putting the away side up 2-1.
Eight minutes later Matt Clare stepped up to a free kick 25 yards out and finished with a strike into the top left corner giving Albion the 3-1 lead.
With 15 minutes left, Albion’s Luis Cardona went in for a tough challenge on Ryan Guy earning him a straight red card. A scuffle between the two teams broke out as tempers began to rise on the pitch. Albion were reduced to ten men with enough time for NC Battalion to possibly get back into the match.
NC Battalion pressured high, creating numerous chances but were unable to capitalize. In the final minutes of the match, substitute Oscar Ortega was sent off for his second yellow card but there was not enough time on the clock for NC Battalion to make a comeback.
Albion Pros finished the match with a 3-1 victory giving them the top spot in the league as well as the first win of the San Diego Derby. North County Battalion are set to travel to Mission Bay High School Stadium on May 21st as the two sides face off once again on Albion’s home turf.
Coach Ziggy Korytoski comments after the game, “This result means we’re the team to beat. We’re top of the table. Our performance after the first 20 minutes was fantastic with guys rising to the challenge. I think we’ve won over a lot of San Diego fans. We’re here to stay. We are San Diego.”
NPSL Man of the Match Felipe Liborio commented, “We really had to grind it out. We trained hard all week and weren’t going to let a game like this go. We came out as a big group, as a family and got the result I feel we deserved.”
Albion Pros host Corinthians USA on Saturday at Mission Bay High School Stadium as NC Battalion travel to play Deportivo Coras USA in Riverside on Sunday.
Photo Credit: Albion SC Pros and NC Battalion Facebook