Current WWU player, former Viking, lead Bellingham United to victory
May 7, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
TJ COTTERILL, THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
The long anticipated marriage between Bellingham and its first professional soccer club couldn't have been received better.
With temperatures in the low 60s on a bright, sunny Sunday, May 6, it wasn't too warm to keep the estimated 1,473 people attending Bellingham United's inaugural home game from proudly wearing their team scarves.
"Oh my God, there were a lot of people here," said forward Kellan Brown. "Something like this had to have taken a lot of time an effort from the owners."
If Civic Stadium had a roof, it might have been blown off when the crowd erupted as Andrew Weishaar broke through the middle of the field and scored in the 85th minute for the game-winning goal to lift Bellingham United past Langley Athletic for a 3-2 victory.
Weishaar attacked late but had the ball taken by Langley Athletic in its own end. Bellingham United's Joel Grossman applied the pressure and Langley Athletic flubbed a cross attempt.
Weishaar took full advantage. He gained a full head of steam, jumped through a hole in the defense, took the ball and shot straight-on for the go-ahead goal, cueing an uproar of jubilation and drum-banging from the fans.
Weishaar, who will play his junior season with the Western Washington University men's soccer team next fall, came in as a substitute and didn't even start practicing with Bellingham United until a week ago because of the Pacific Coast Soccer League's regulations against active collegiate players playing professionally.
"He just started training with us, but we knew what he could do," said Bellingham United coach Lance Calloway. "He was very poised in front of the goal and just put the ball in front of the net. That is what good forwards do when the game is on the line."
Once the pregame ceremonies finished, capped by a helicopter flying just above the field, the inaugural home match that Bellingham United president and general manager Jeff McIntyre worked on putting together since February of 2011 was underway.
Twelve minutes into the match, Bellingham United was awarded an indirect free kick and Brown was about to make his mark in club history.
Greg Young took the free kick and tapped it to Brown, who stroked it to the back of the net for Bellingham United's first home goal.
"That was absolutely awesome," Calloway said. "It couldn't have been a better person to score that goal than Kellan Brown. He is a very talented player and the spark plug for our squad."
"It's always good to get a goal, I love that feeling," Brown said. "But to get that first one, there were a lot of people in the stands, so when I got it, it felt really nice."
Brown added a second goal off an assist from Tyler Bjork just eight minutes later as Bellingham United looked like it might would run away with the win.
It came out playing just as well to start the second half and got off eight shots to Langley's two.
The air was sucked out of the crowd in the 64th minute, though, as Langley's Andrew Dobbie scored on a well set-up corner kick from David Malamura. Twelve minutes later, with 14 minutes left in the match, Bellingham United goalkeeper Leo Cohen made a fantastic diving save to bat down a shot from Rohla Mitchell, but Malamura was there for the rebound and his shot barely crossed the goal line, tied the match at 2-2.
"At the beginning of the game we were the aggressive team, we initiated contact and we were the first to balls then it slowly flip flopped," Grossman said. "It was just a game of momentum and swings. It was a battle."
Grossman and Weishaar made sure Langley's momentum stopped there, as they combined to create the game-winning the goal that ended what initially looked to be a good day for Bellingham United's home debut with a thrilling finish.
"It was huge to get a win, especially after going up 2-0," Grossman said. "Even ending up with a tie would have been extremely disappointing.
"So it was huge to get a win because of the atmosphere the owners created. We really wanted to get a win for them."
McIntyre was one of the first to run out to the field after the match, carrying a sledgehammer along the way, and handed it to Brendan Quilici, something McIntyre said he plans to do after every win to honor the 'Man of the Match.'
"My glasses got a little steamy there at the end," McIntyre said. "It got a little hairy, but the boys stuck with it and finished it out strong."
But the final horn to signal the end of the match was more than just an opportunity for McIntyre to wipe off the fog from his sunglasses and run to the field wielding a sledgehammer - it was about seeing his dream of bringing professional soccer to the Bellingham community finally come to fruition.
"I had butterflies in my stomach for the past week just thinking about this," McIntyre said. "Relief is a good word because it was pretty stressful leading up to this. But our fans were happy and the players came out and did their job and gave a great showing and had a good performance today."
McIntyre said he came in wanting to create a thrilling atmosphere and that was exactly what happened on Sunday. The scarfs were out, the large contingency huddled from the beer garden was boisterous, Hooligans Row was even more so, and the players could feel it.
"Everyone one our team was feeling the chills," Grossman said. "We were ready to go out there and get stuck in there to play. Obviously the ownership, the coaching and the staff has done a great job of setting up this atmosphere. It was definitely exciting to just have everything, like the helicopter. It was a fantastic atmosphere."
BELLINGHAM UNITED F.C. 3, LANGLEY ATHLETIC F.C. 2
Scoring: Goal: Kellan Brown (BUFC), assist: Greg Young, time: 12. Goal: Kellan Brown (BUFC), assist: Tyler Bjork, time: 20. Goal: Andrew Dobbie (LAFC), assist: David Malamura, time: 64. Goal: David Malamura (LAFC), time: 76. Goal: Andrew Weishaar (BUFC), time: 85. Shots on goal: LAFC 8, BUFC 10. Goalkeeper (saves): LAFC Evan Lowther (7), BUFC Leo Cohen (6)
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