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Bethlehem Steel and Red Bullls II on the field for Opening Kick-off. Courtesy of Anthony Paradiso.

New York Red Bulls II

Baby Red Bulls Stampede Bethlehem Steel 4-0

On Friday night, Red Bulls II bounced back from a three match winless streak in a big way with a 4-0 thrashing of  Bethlehem Steel. This win reaped two major benefits for Red Bulls II. One, they end a three-match-winless-streak, and secondly, the win moves the Bulls past Nashville SC into second place in the United Soccer League (USL) Eastern Conference standings.

Red Bulls II defender Rece Buckmaster played inspired against Bethlehem. The 22-year-old from Auburn, Indiana won every ball in his own half-of-the-field and the fans at MSU Soccer Park roared in approval. When the momentum shifted in the opponent’s favor, the Baby Bulls had no problem regaining possession.

The Baby Bulls would open the scoring when midfielder Jared Stroud set rookie Kyle Zajec up on the edge of the box. Zajec took the shot first-time and slotted it into the bottom right corner of the Steel Goalkeeper’s net. The public address announcer informed the fan the goal was Zajec’s first goal as a professional soccer player. On his first goal Zajec said, “It was awesome, Jared gave me a good pass though, he made it easy, but it was a great feeling.”

The Baby Bulls took no prisoners and in the 31st minute, Sebastian Elney squared a pass to Zajec who pounded a volley into the net for his second of the match. Heading into halftime, the Baby Bulls had blasted the Steel for 16 shots and two goals. 

Things began slowly in the second half. Bethlehem Steel kept attacking the Bulls’ left flank but left-back Rece Buckmaster was equal to the task. Buckmaster was busy covering Steel forwards who were bigger than him and showed great positioning and skill to stymie Steel threats to the Red Bull goal. In the 58th minute the Baby Bulls subbed out defender Edgardo Rito for German Janos Loebe.

In the 64th minute, off-season signing Mathias Jorgenson was hauled down by a Steel defender. The referee immediately pointed to a penalty shot. Jorgenson’s attempt deflected past Romero’s hands and into the right side of the net for his fourth goal of the year.

The Red Bulls II were cruising and subbed out their key players. Sal Esposito replaced Stroud in the 75th minute and defender Chris Tiao replaced midfielder Kyle Zajec.

In the 76th minute Captain Marcus Epps took a shot on goal that trickled past the goalkeeper. Steel defender Dante Huckaby clumsily knocked the ball into his own net for an own goal. The Red Bulls would cruise to a resounding 4-nil victory in front of their home fans. Players walked over to the stands where the supporters were cheering and greeted, they and some young fans who saw them play Friday night.

Head Coach John Wolyniec discussed breakthrough performances by certain players after Friday night’s win;

On Kyle Zajec who scored his first two professional goals Friday, “He’s a real hard worker, as much as he isn’t a starter, we like to get him in games, for him to get a couple of goals, not only for Kyle but for the group is great.”

On Rece Buckmaster’s gritty defensive game, Wolyniec said.

“He’s a guy whose been really consistent and is a defender first, and we really like that,” Wolyniec said,

Buckmaster’s work-ethic stood out on the field Friday and Wolyniec said that, “I think that’s just built-in, [it’s] the way you look at the world [and] the game,” Wolyniec said, “Rece is a guy who doesn’t want the spotlight he just wants to do his job and that’s a winning attitude, especially for a defender.”

The Baby Bulls are back in action for a crucial conference battle with Atlanta United on June 7.

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