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Aviators start new year with victory over Rapids
BY MERRICK PARNELL
ARLINGTON — The Arlington Aviators started the new year off with a bang, running down the Whatcom S.A. Rapids 7-4 in Bellingham, on Jan. 4.
Since the schedule was first released by the Premier Arena Soccer League, players, coaches and fans circled the Jan. 4 date on their calendars, because the Rapids and Aviators have emerged as fierce rivals on the I-5 corridor, and even the pre-season match was highly competitive, intense and physical. This match would be no different.
In front of a near-capacity crowd at the Bellingham Sportsplex, the Aviators took the pitch against the Rapids, eager to slug it out in what would be a heavyweight bout.
The Rapids would score quickly on a goal from Sean Connor at the 2:30 mark. The Aviators would not get on the score line until 1:15 left in the first, from a solid goal from Gunnar Johannesson. The first period ended in a 1-1 tie, and the rest of the first half would stay neck and neck, with both teams trading scores. The Rapids led at the half by a 3-2 score, with a goal from Bellingham’s 15-year-old prospect Tyler Hughes, and a goal by Nick Selleto.
At the half, both teams headed back into their clubhouses, but only one returned with the energy, heart and passion needed to surge into the second half.
“It was a tale of two halves. The first half we were lucky to be down 3-2, the second half we came out controlling the game,” said Arlington coach Phil Bartlow.
The Aviators looked like an entirely different ball club in the second half, playing the game at a streaking pace. Sprinting every shift, battling for every ball and blasting solid shots past the Rapids’ keeper. At the end of the third, the Aviators were up 4-3 on the Rapids, with one of those goals scored on the Aviators’ only power play of the match, by James Doherty.
The Rapids tied the game on another Sean Connor goal, but that was not enough to stop an Aviator Attack that cannoned three more goals to win 7-4. With the win, the Aviators move to a 4-1 record. Bellingham moves to 2-3 on the season.
From here, the Aviators will hit the road again for two more matches, against Burnaby FC and Snohomish. Arlington will return home on Feb. 1 at Soccer First Indoor Sports Arena, to face the Rapids in what should be an intense rematch. Tickets are going for $5 at the door.