TEANECK, N.J. – Sjur Gundersen swooped in to volley home his fourth goal of the season just seconds before the final whistle, but it was the goal that he did not score that highlighted his Player of the Week performance during Hakoah's 5-0 win over Real Wyckoff at University Stadium on Sunday. Midway through the second half, Gundersen pounced on a loose ball and fired a rocket from 35 yards out that flew past the goalkeeper and rattled the crossbar, momentarily stunning players and spectators alike.
It was not the first time Gundersen had figured in the attack, nor would it be the last. In the eighth minute, following a nice buildup that included a well-executed one-two from father-son tandem Harel and Niv Nahar, Gundersen whistled a low shot just wide of the post. And late in the game, Gundersen turned provider, playing a perfectly weighted ball out wide to Jonah Silk who found Saeed Sulemana-Baba at the far post for the tap-in to extend Hakoah's lead to 4-0.
Gundersen's forays into the attack were made possible in part by a very composed performance by the Hakoah backline, which helped goalkeeper Aleksey Nazarov record his first clean sheet in league play. The younger Nahar continued to impress in just his second league game, and Jake Weinberg had a very successful league debut for the home side.
"I really feel like we are coming together defensively," said Ofir Singal.
Hakoah started the game confidently, as Michel Asayag hustled right off the opening kick off to chase the ball down, beat his marker to the endline and loft a cross toward Sulemana-Baba. The Ghanaian striker's volley attempt was slightly mishit, and the Wyckoff goalkeeper made the save. Practice makes perfect, though, and when a nearly identical situation presented itself in the 12th minute, Sulemana-Baba made amends, bouncing Asayag's perfect cross into the back of the net to give Hakoah the lead.
Seven minutes later, Sulemana-Baba returned the favor, capitalizing on a bad giveaway in the Wyckoff half to gain possession and put Asayag through on goal. Asayag calmly rounded the keeper and deposited the ball into the back of the net to extend the advantage to 2-0.
As Hakoah tightened its grip on the game, the match became a bit more physical, and a hard tackle on Singal earned a visiting player the first of two yellow cards issued to the team on either side of halftime.
Hakoah's high pressure gave Wyckoff trouble as the second half progressed, and errant backpasses and poor touches began to yield additional scoring chances. In the 51st minute, Sulemana-Baba won the ball from a defender near midfield and sent Asayag in on goal. His attempt to chip the keeper was deflected over the bar for a corner.
Wyckoff's stout goalkeeping kept the game close until the 62nd minute, when Sulemana-Baba broke in on goal and held off two defenders and the keeper long enough for Asayag to arrive in support and score his second goal off a Sulemana-Baba assist for a 3-0 lead. Asayag nearly completed the hat trick ten minutes later as he latched on to a ball rolling near the top of the box but blazed his attempt over the bar.
The sky blues have now won five consecutive league matches and will look to continue their successful run of form on Sunday, April 1st against EFC. Kickoff is at 8 am at University Stadium.
SCH -- Sulemana-Baba (Asayag) 12
SCH -- Asayag (Sulemana-Baba) 19
SCH -- Asayag (Sulemana-Baba) 62
SCH -- Sulemana-Baba (Silk) 81
SCH -- Gundersen (Sulemana-Baba) 90
RWY -- Unknown (caution; Reckless tackle) 39
RWY -- unknown (caution; Reckless tackle) 54
SCH -- Weinberg (caution; Dissent)
Time of Game: 94 minutes
Weather: Cloudy and 47 degrees