MANCHESTER -- Still searching for the first win of the 2014 USLPDL season, the Vermont Voltage came out and held much of the possession in the opening 20 minutes of Saturday's game against CFC Azul.
But a costly mistake in the 23rd minute put the Voltage a man down, and CFC Azul capitalized with a pair of second-half goals to take a 2-0 win at Applejack Field in Manchester.
The mistake was made by Duran Shand, who got into an altercation with an Azul player near the benches and prompted a straight red card.
"Basically, that changes the game, that changes our game plan, that changes everything," said Voltage coach Bo Vuckovic. "Playing man-down against an experienced team, it is always tough. They are very good at keeping the ball, and they used their opportunities."
The Voltage nearly took the lead, though, when Uros Antic played a ball into the path of Svetislav Milic on the left side of the box, but Milic's shot went wide at the near post.
From there, the Voltage held the fort down for the remainder of the first half and into the second, but the energy exerted to keep the Voltage in the game came at a price after CFC Azul coach David Kelly was able to make some halftime adjustments.
"Vermont were organized and they worked hard," Kelly said. "Once the red card came, they did a good job of setting up their block of eight. We made a couple of changes in the second half which I think helped us keep possession a bit.
In the 69th minute, Azul won a corner which DJ Pereira whipped low into the area. The ball fell to Ryan Kinne, who managed to flick the ball to Jonas Folstad and the Norwegian hit a shot off of Voltage goalie Andrew Coughlin and into the net.
"It was a bit lucky," Kelly said. "It was a good service by DJ, he put some pace on it and had good shape to it. I didn't see what happened [next], but my guy capitalized on it."
Offensively for the Voltage, the ejection of Shand left Nathan Olukamni alone up top to try and generate offense, and the Siena College player did his best to try and catch the Azul defense slipping on the counter. But with a lack of service, Olukamni was often left to run at the defense by himself.
"We tried to put eight guys behind the ball and be very disciplined," Vuckovic said. "Nate, he is a very fast forward, the idea was to try and catch them off the counterattack and see if it would work out."
Olukamni created the best chances in the game for the Voltage, playing through Uros Antic shortly after the Azul goal only for the midfielder to run into the goalie and a defender to snuff out the chance.
CFC Azul put in the second goal in the 75th minute, as the referee awarded a penalty kick for an exchange in the box on a corner, and Reco McLaren stepped up and hit the ball into the top right corner to put the team up 2-0.
"[There were] two big decisions by the referee," Kelly said. "Over the course of a season, you have to take advantage of those opportunities when they happen."
But while Coughlin did have to scoop the ball out of his own net twice, he did pull off a double-save in the first half that denied Daniel Joe Baccielo and Eddy Bogle from scoring, and Coughlin tipped a Baccielo shot over the bar in the second half with the game still scoreless.
The Voltage fall to 0-3-0 on the year, while CFC Azul improves to 2--0-1. The Voltage return to action this coming Saturday against the Westchester Flames at the Collins-Perley Sports Complex in St. Albans. The team's next game at Applejack will be on June 21.